Thor: Ragnarok

Published on October 30th, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok

Directed by Taika Waititi

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett

Reviewed by Julian Lehnert

Rating: ★★★½☆

Here we go again. Another multi-million dollar superhero romp has come to town, loudly parading its explosive fight scenes and larger-than-life characters. This surprisingly common position in todays’ world of clashing heroes and villains is now being filled by Thor: Ragnarok. The third film in Marvel’s stand-alone series once more follows Australian fan-favourite Chris Hemsworth’s rendition of the titular Norse deity – and with it his entourage of gods and mythical warriors.

However, things seem somewhat different this time around. Yes, it’s your usual suite of big CGI-infused battles and once more, the world is in danger – no, really – but when Ragnarok starts with a caged and bound Thor directly addressing the audience one can’t help but notice that something has changed. That is, apart from the fact that this is a scene that only lacks a flashback sequence initiated by “this is how it all began” to fit right in with 90’s rom-coms. When the following scenes keep piling on the laughs, we discover that this is indeed an action movie with a more than insignificant comedy twist. Director Taika Waititi, famous for previous funny-films such as What We Do in the Shadows (2014) is right back at it, providing some reliable chuckles throughout the film’s two hour screentime.

Ragnarok‘s story is nothing new and can thus largely go unstated – Thor’s sister Hela (Cate Blanchett), in her best Maleficent impression, threatens to take over the world. So, as is always the case, our powerful hero faces powerful adversity, some new characters are introduced, some old characters bow out (until a Han Solo-style spinoff, that is) and things more or less get resolved along the way. Fans of the series and the comics will rejoice upon spotting familiar faces and settings while newcomers won’t be left too much in the dark; Ragnarok doesn’t boldly stride forward with complex storytelling so much as it stays in its effects-laden comfort zone, but it does it well enough that I cannot fault it for that.

That said, after some of the more tonally serious movies in the Marvel canon – we don’t talk about Deadpool (2016) – Waititi’s comedic take may turn out to be a bit incongruous for some. The laughs especially seem to clash with the story: with bodies strewn around as Thor’s homeland is in peril, trying to break the tension by way of a funny-accented rock man’s quips, for instance, is more than a tad jarring. That said, Ragnarok never crosses the boundaries into total tone-deafness – it stays mostly light-hearted and in some cases actually quite funny, scattering its jokes and references between and throughout the bombastic fights. Here’s a task for you: spot the reference to The Castle (1997). Yes, this movie references the Australian classic. Laughs were had.

With the Australian summer bearing down on the public it is only sensible to seek some escape from the sun’s rays, and Thor: Ragnarok can definitely provide two entertaining, sheltered hours. Reliable jokes, a tried-and-tested cast with some interesting new additions and an at least servicable story serve to make Waititi’s foray into the superhero genre a pleasant one. Just don’t expect to be blown away.