Best of 2017: Thor Ragnarok (Belated) Review
Directed by Taika Waititi
Previously, after watching the trailer for Ragnarok, I was excited to see Marvel/Disney's sequel to the iconic Asgardian and Marvel's answer to DC's Superman. However, after learning of constant critiques of the film, I decided to put it on the "waitlist" and now that I have finally watched it over the weekend, here are my thoughts for this Johnny-come-lately review.
If I had a hammer....
During the beginning of the film, Thor is held captive by Surtur within Muspelheim while searching for the Infinity Stones. Thor of course, escapes and sometime afterwards, learns of both the prophecy of Ragnarok which spells the destruction of Asgard and even worse, Hela The Goddess of Death, has been released from prison and she ain't too happy about it and tries to overthrow the kingdom. Of course, The God of Thunder is not having it, and sometime after his brief encounter with Hela, Thor is captured, finds himself stripped of his powers, his hammer Mjolnir and as a gladiator slave on the planet Sakarr, his dignity. Can Thor escape in time to stop Hela's plan to conquer Asgard while preventing the foreseen prophecy of doom?
It is easy being green
Let's talk about the 5000-pound elephant in the room, the Hulk! After his last appearance in Age of Ultron, it’s not difficult to understand the circumstances of how the not so jolly green giant ended up on the battleworld controlled by the Grandmaster.
This isn't your average mute Hulk that we have seen from the previous Marvel films and before that, the Incredible Hulk TV series. Not only can he kick ass as in Thor's ass, but for the first time in live action history- he can actually TALK!! The dialogue exchange between Hulk and Thor is akin to some road buddy comedy and it’s a welcomed change of pace since the two characters were previously at odds.
On Earth, Hulk was somewhat of a menace and a pariah, but on Sakarr, he is worshipped like a god. Obviously, this plot arc was ripped from the Planet Hulk series and cartoon, but it works here as well. This Hulks got swagger!
Ragnarok n Roll
Aside from the brilliant use of cinematography and Waititi's direction, this was one of the better movie soundtracks of 2017! Mark Mothersbaugh adds an eclectic mix of futuristic techno thanks to a heaping dose of John Carpenter synth fused with contemporary orchestral sounds which gives this score, a sound unlike any other. Well, at times, it reminded me of what the band, Queen would've came up with, so there's that.
And if that wasn't enough, the implementation of Led Zepplin's "Immigrant Song" is a stroke of genius! I couldn't help but tap my foot every time this song was played while Thor is kicking ass!
The second you hear Zepplin's frontman Robert Plant yells "Aaaaaaah-ah"! You know shits about to go down! The second time this song was used, it was reminiscent of the first two Blade movies (Y'know, the good ones!) in where the vampire slayer takes down an army of henchmen while a catchy song is playing in the background to get you pumped up and it works! And for all you nostalgists out there, if you listen carefully, you'll hear the outro of Hulk's TV theme, the lonely man.
God of Blunder
Okay, one of the biggest if not the biggest critiques of Ragnarok, is no doubt the overuse of comedic bits. Where The Dark World was a more brooding tale, here we have constant attempts at humor and for the most part, the timing hits it's mark!
Yeah, I am aware that there are a few overdone lines and scenes like "the Devil's Anus", a bare-naked Hulk along with Thor's reaction to Hulk's junk, Korg's laid back persona and of course, the constant "Lord of Thunder" misnomers, but all in all, this "tonal shift" toward a more lightheaded narrative, is a slight return to the first Thor film which had its share of laughs and one-liners. But even more so than ever! Part of the film's core theme, is focused on redemption that pushes the narrative forward
and for you lovers of the oh so serious melancholy, there are a few moments when situations aren't that humorless; a few supporting characters are killed off, including a major one. There's death, a noble sacrifice, destruction and during the final act, all is practically lost. I won’t spoil it for those who have yet to watch it, but you'll see what I mean.
Lightning striking twice?
After the successful Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, Ragnarok serves as the perfect bookend for the MCU. With its unusual, but well received format and tone, especially for a project based on the titular character’s mythology, it’s a breakthrough film. The aesthetics are akin to 1980’s Flash Gordon and Star Wars which is good company and the supporting cast of characters like Loki, Heimdall, Hela, Hulk, Dr. Strange, Skurge, Grandmaster and especially Valkyrie adds so much credibility to an already great film that I rate it as the runner-up to my pick of best film of 2017!
Should a film based on Intellectual Properties like say, Micronauts and especially Masters of the Universe get greenlit, someone grab Taika Waititi! 2017 is the year, the MCU are hitching a ride further into space and so far, its a good trip!
“To infinity and beyond indeed”.