[Sci-Fi Month] Flashy Visuals and Disappointing Villains | Review: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Thor: Ragnarok
Directed by: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, et al.
Based on: characters by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Larry Lieber
Genre: Superhero/Action/Comedy
Released: November 3 2017 by Walt Disney Pictures
Running time: 130 mins (2 hours, 10 mins)
Cert: 12 (UK) PG-13 (US)
Rating: ★★✰✰✰

IMDb | View Trailer

Imprisoned, the almighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.

Before I start this review, I feel like I should make it clear that I’m not reviewing this movie from the viewpoint of a comics fan because I don’t read Marvel comics. What I know about these characters comes only from the movies and nothing else. I’m not a Marvel fan but the Thor movies are my favourites in the franchise even though they’re not the best critically received. I loved the mythology of them and the Shakespearean aspects that are combined with a modern-day setting to make for an exciting story. Then Natalie Portman had a big falling out with Marvel Studios and left, so they decided to have a pseudo-reboot of the series and take the series in a different direction. That both excited me and made me concerned because the more comedic, brightly-coloured take did not feel like Thor to me, but I pushed that aside because I don’t think it’s fair to harshly judge something before you experience it. Also, Tom Hiddleston is my favourite actor and I’ll support any movie that he’s in so of course I would give it a go. Unfortunately, that concern turned out to be true for me. Prepare yourselves, friends. This may get a bit salty.
First, I would talk about the plot of this movie, but I barely remember it. It hasn’t been that long since I watched the movie but I can’t remember what happened because nothing really stood out to me. I have a terrible memory, I’ll admit that, but movie plots are something that never escape my mind. There are lots of parts of this movie that felt disjointed to me and also felt like they had nothing to do with the actual Ragnarok plot. Norse mythology? I don’t know her. From what I know, Ragnarok is supposed to be a giant deal because it’s basically the end of the world, but in this movie, I don’t think enough emphasis is put on this until about twenty minutes before the end of the movie. Most of the plot centres around the gladiator battles on the Grandmaster’s planet rather than the actual Ragnarok aspects with Hela. This next gripe might just be me but it doesn’t sit right with me that eighty percent of the movie’s dialogue is improvised. To some people, that’s a sign of artistry. To me, it’s a sign of an unfinished script. It may make more time for humour (which didn’t make me laugh) but the plot suffers from it. And you can’t just add in silly jokes to distract your audience from the fact that your plot is lacking. One more gripe that I have with the plot is actually down to me because I have not seen Doctor Strange. Why is he in this movie? He appears for five minutes and then never appears ever again. What was the actual point? And more importantly: why is Benedict Cumberbatch’s American accent so bad? Good grief.

 

On to the characters. Thor’s characterisation in this movie is something that kind of bugged me because of how drastically different he is. Thor was never the brightest of the Avengers, or even in his own family, but this movie turns him into a giant goofball who gets into a childish argument with a giant green man. Naturally, I’m not very impressed. I had a feeling that I would not like this characterisation of Thor as soon as the first lines are said. Chris Hemsworth is supposed to be ‘hilarious’ according to everyone he works with but I just didn’t see it. I don’t want a funny goofball Thor who tells jokes all the time, I want a Thor who is headstrong and stubborn but does learn from his mistakes, which he was in the first two movies. I just don’t care for the character since this is now the direction that he’s been taken in.

 

Loki is my favourite Marvel character. In fact, he’s the only character that I like, and I feel like this movie did him so badly. In previous movies, Loki poses as an actual threat. Here, he’s the comic relief which is a role that does not suit him at all. There was almost no point of him being involved in the movie at all after the first twenty minutes or so because he becomes somewhat irrelevant. To me, this is the biggest disappointment in the movie because Tom Hiddleston is easily the best actor in the MCU and his character deserves better. And also, I have to have one slight nit-pick. His makeup. It’s so cakey and it got on my nerves for the whole thing. Loki is supposed to be pale and look different to the rest of the Asgardians, but his skin looks like it’s caked in foundation. It’s not so obvious in promotional stills or on small screens, but on the big screen it bugged me. I don’t get why the MUAs felt it was necessary to put so much on him. Tom’s not a tanned guy and his skin is always perfect, there was no need to put so much foundation on him. But that’s my one nit-pick. If there is one aspect of Loki being in the movie that was a redeeming point for me is the relationship that he has with Thor. I do prefer them to be at odds with each other, but to see them work together the way they do here is quite nice.
I’m going to put it out there straight away: I do not like the Hulk. I think he’s boring and the only time I’m interested in him is when he isn’t the Hulk. I knew that he was going to appear in the movie but when he did my reaction was still “why”. Again, this is probably down to me having not seen Age of Ultron but I just did not understand why the Hulk was included in this story. Was it to remind people that these movies take place in a shared universe? Because I don’t need characters from other movies appearing for me to know that. But whatever. My main issue with the Hulk in this movie is that he is just the Hulk for about half of it and for that half I just didn’t care about him. They made him have childish arguments with Thor over being idiots and terrible friends which I didn’t find either funny or emotional. I didn’t start to care about him until he was Banner again who was the only character I ended up caring about him. Especially when he sees a video message from Black Widow and freaks out. This was important to me because for once someone’s emotional state isn’t treated as a joke and is given the seriousness that it requires.

 

While I am extremely grateful that Valkyrie is included in this movie, she also falls flat by having a sort of undefined character. She kicks a lot of ass but it doesn’t feel like it’s enough because that appears to be one of her only character traits. Her other character trait is one that really kind of boils my blood. Valkyrie is very obviously portrayed as an alcoholic. The first time we see her she’s so drunk that she can barely stand and she can finish a huge bottle of booze within two seconds. And it’s all for laughs. That doesn’t sit right with me at all and it’s a problem I have with other Marvel characters who are shown to have huge mental struggles like this. It’s either brushed off or played up as a joke, which is never going to be okay with me. It’s great that Marvel is taking steps to having a more diverse cast, but I would be more impressed if it were done better. If there’s one thing that I am happy about is that her being included didn’t mean that there would be any romance. I am all for there being no romance in movies these days.
The last character I’m going to talk about is Hela. I had been so hyped up to finally see a female villain in the MCU (anyone who claims she is the first female villain to ever appear in a superhero movie will have my entire dvd collection thrown at them) and this is another part where the movie severely let me down. Hela was boring. She shows up, does some things, disappears so that the plot can focus on the gladiator stuff, then does some more stuff, goes away again, and then is faced in the final battle. And that’s it. She did not interest me one bit. When she was supposed to be even vaguely threatening, it was ruined by some joke that was shoehorned in, which is actually a huge problem that I have with the MCU as a whole, and not just this movie. You do not need to make a joke or a snide remark every five seconds. It gets stale and predictable and ruins moments that have a lot of emotional weight to them. The fact that every single character has the same sense of humour really did not help.

 

On a more positive note, the visually, this movie is gorgeous. It is more colourful than previous Marvel movies that have a tendency to look kind of grey at times since they switched from film to digital so I’m glad that they fixed that issue because the colours look more vibrant. One concern that I had from watching the trailer and from seeing GIFs on Tumblr would be that the amount of colour used would be too much and would actually give me eye strain but thankfully it was the right amount and my eyes were saved. The CGI is very nice but does look a little off at times and because of the kind of movie this is, it gets a little CG heavy but it’s a sci-fi movie so I’ll be lenient. My only issue with the visuals is when it comes to practical effects like makeup. I’ve already addressed Loki’s cakey foundation but another thing that bugged me appears towards the end of the movie when Thor loses an eye in battle. I understand that this couldn’t be done too realistically to keep a mass market audience but you can really tell that Hemsworth is just holding his eye closed because it’s just painted over the top and doesn’t even look like a fresh wound.

 

It is highly unlikely that I will be watching this movie ever again because I feel like it’s ruined the Thor series for me. I miss Jane, Eric, and Darcy, I miss Sif and the Warriors Three. I miss the Shakespearean aspects and the mythology – as inaccurate as it is – and most of all, I miss there being an actual menacing, threatening Loki and a noble warrior Thor as opposed to the clowns that they became in this movie. This was basically Guardians of the Galaxy but with different characters and a different setting. And it just didn’t work for me. I want Kenneth Branagh back. Also, one more piece of salt: a shake weight joke? It’s 2017.

Have you seen Thor: Ragnarok? Did you enjoy it more than I did?

Louise ☆

Louise is a bookworm, writer, and aspiring librarian from the North East of England. When she’s not reading or procrastinating writing, she can be found dreaming up story ideas, watching anime, movies, or trashy reality TV, and annoying her pets.

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