Looks like another Thor film but this one looks different. It will be interesting to see what the mostly comedic writer/director of The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, a much different film, does directing this.
Synopsis: Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok—the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk! (Marvel Studios)
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, and Cate Blanchett
Writers: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost
Director: Taika Waititi
Rating: PG (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)
Running Time: 130mins
For showtimes and more, check out Thor: Ragnarok on movietimes.com.
Thor has been a difficult character to pull off with his two solo films not faring as well as his collaborative efforts in the Avengers films. Beit writing, direction, or something else, the solo films haven’t quite done the character justice (full disclosure: I haven’t seen the second Thor solo film and I haven’t bothered to see it after Age of Ultron). This film hopes to change the course of the series by breaking the mould and for the most part, it succeeds in doing so.
The big secret here (assuming you haven’t seen any of the trailers) was comedy. Of course the MCU has had comedic elements in their films but this film takes it to a completely different level. Many will be surprised by how funny it is. The comedy hit most often than not although in trying to be both a comedy and an action film, the film sometimes failed to find the right balance tone-wise. However, it should still be commended as this new direction for the character of Thor is more consistent with the Avengers films.
Based on the trailers, it is easy to compare it to the Guardians of the Galaxy series, however, the similarities begin and end with the space setting. What set it apart was the retro action sci-fi look and feel from its cool visuals and soundtrack. Both fit well with the story, making it extremely fun to watch as a whole, including its use of Led Zeppelin’s The Immigrant song during multiple action sequences. We know about Loki (Hiddleston) and the Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) but the story also introduces other great characters like a fierce female Asgardian warrior named Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and a grandiose character known as the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) who served as a comedic villain to go along with the film’s main villain Hela (Blanchett).
Thor (Hemsworth) encounters Valkyrie during the middle portion of the film on the planet of Sakaar in what was a memorable entrance. She was a strong female character who could stand up to her male counterparts. She and Thor become allies, joining his team of “Revengers”. The Grandmaster is the ruler of Sakaar and he was a larger than life presence who could be sort of menacing and also imposing in a weird way. The rest of the planet was just as weird as he was which fit with the comedic and retro sci-fi feel. There were also a few other cameos, one of them being Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), that should surprise many.
While Thor and the Hulk were trying to escape from Sakaar, Hela was reaping havoc on Asgard. The film jumped back and forth between both settings, perhaps favoring the events on Sakaar and the Thor/Hulk teamup a little more than Asgard. The Thor/Hulk pairing was the best part of the film by far. The version of the Hulk we see was far more advanced than normal with a surprising amount of dialogue and shows a lot more personality here. We haven’t seen both characters since Age of Ultron, however, the film doesn’t fill in much backstory for Banner. The problem with all of this was that the time spent on Sakaar took away from time to develop Hela as a character as well as the conflict on Asgard. This prevented Hela to stand out ahead of other MCU villains or her motives to gain much traction.
The acting was excellent across the board with Hemsworth providing his best performance yet as Thor, collaborations included. The script and direction worked to his many strengths including his charisma, screen presence, and comedic timing. His chemistry with Hiddleston and Ruffalo, after working together in several films, made each pairing fun to watch. Hiddleston was excellent as Loki, returning to the role after a long absence like he never left. Loki has already had his character arc over previous films so the film utilized the character in an inventive way as the brunt of the humor. Despite being a little wasted and underwritten, Blanchett elevated the role of Hela, while having chemistry with Hemsworth and Hiddleston.
Overall, this was a great film that takes the story of Thor in a fresh direction with the addition of comedy and gives the story a retro action sci-fi feel through its visuals and soundtrack. While it didn’t always work, it was always fun to watch thanks to the script, direction, and the performances across the board.