Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios
Directed by Taika Watiti
Produced by Kevin Feige
Screenplay by Eric Pearson/Craig Kyle/Christopher Yost
Based on “Thor” created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & Larry Lieber
I can sum up for you quite easily as to why I enjoy Marvel’s Superhero movies more than I do DC’s. And no, I am not one of those people who has to pick one over the other. I remember the days when the best we got was a Captain America wearing a motorcycle helmet for a mask, a Daredevil in an all-black ninja outfit and “Superfriends” on Saturday morning. So I’m delighted for all the Superhero movies we’re getting. Even the ones I didn’t enjoy so much such as “Man of Steel” and “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
But for me, Marvel has the edge in that these are Larger Than Life characters and Marvel is not afraid to let them be Larger Than Life with Larger Than Life concerns, ambitions and attitudes. Whereas DC strives at every turn to yank their heroes down to a human level and make them “relatable” Marvel just goes full tilt boogie and gives us Superheroes who actually like being Superheroes and enjoy having adventures and don’t mope around with a lot of manufactured angst that belongs in a soap opera, not a Superhero Movie. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Thor movies. Thor has been my favorite superhero since I first started reading comic books way back in the 1970s and I still re-read the Lee/Kirby issues I’m proud to own over and over as they’re some of the finest comic books Marvel has ever produced. I loved both Thor” and “Thor: The Dark World” and I really love THOR: RAGNAROK. It isn’t ashamed or embarrassed to be a totally off the wall Space Opera/Heroic Fantasy adventure that has no interest at all in being realistic or some phony angst-filled drama. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its dramatic moments. It does. Man, does it ever. There’s a whole lot of death and destruction in this one and by the end of the movie, Thor’s entire world has been transformed. THOR: RAGNAROK has something in common with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” in that it’s not afraid to ruthlessly rip up Thor’s status quo and shake up his entire reason for being. The Thor I got at the end of the movie is for all purposes a brand-new incarnation of the character but since director Taika Watiti and writers Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost meticulously took me through the stripping away of much of what previously made Thor THOR, I bought it.
When the movie begins Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has just beaten the hellfire out of the Fire Demon Surtur (Clancy Brown) and taken his crown. Thor is confident that without his crown, Surtur cannot bring about the prophesied Ragnarok which in a nutshell is the destruction of Asgard and all who live there. Returning to Asgard, Thor finds his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) posing as Odin. After unmasking him, the brothers travel to Earth to find their father in Norway just in time to witness Odin’s passing which releases from captivity a relative they never knew they had; Odin’s first-born child Hela, The Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett). Possessed of seemingly unlimited power, Hela effortlessly destroys Thor’s weapon, the enchanted hammer Mjolnir and while Thor and Loki try to escape back to Asgard by means of the Bifrost, she throws them out of it and into intergalactic space.
Thor and Loki both end up on the planet Sakarr, a world of garbage whose only value is that it is surrounded by wormholes. Loki arrived on the planet some time ahead of Thor and so has managed to ingratiate himself into the favor of The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) an Elder of The Universe who sponsors a gladiatorial game he calls “The Contest of Champions.” Having been captured and sold to The Grandmaster by a bounty hunter named Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson) Thor is slated to fight in the arena, put up against The Grandmaster’s undefeated champion, The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
Thor’s only concern is to get back to Asgard and save it from Hela, who along with Skurge The Executioner (Karl Urban) is hunting for Heimdall (Idris Elba) who is not only hiding and protecting Asgard’s citizenry from her but also has the sword that controls the Bifrost. And without the Bifrost, Hela cannot conquer The Nine Realms and beyond.
Saying that THOR: RAGNAROK is utterly and totally spectacular is an understatement. Cate Blanchett effortlessly steals the movie as Hela and I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve seen her have so much fun in a movie. And she looks exactly like a Jack Kirby drawing of Hela come to life. My respects to the costuming and special effects department as I would never have believed that Hela’s complicated headdress could be pulled off in live action but they do it. And Karl Urban as Skurge looks exactly like Walt Simonson’s incarnation of the character. As for his performance…c’mon, be honest now…when have you ever seen Karl Urban deliver a bad performance? He wouldn’t have been my pick for Skurge but damn if he doesn’t pull it off.
THOR: RAGNAROK leans heavily on Chris Hemsworth’s comedic skills and I didn’t mind because he truly is gifted at comedy but there are dramatic scenes that he knows how to sell equally well. As I mentioned earlier, Thor is stripped away one by one of the trademarks and accoutrements by which we’ve come to know him and so has to reinvent himself with new skills and new weapons and it’s interesting to watch Thor transform himself into what is essentially a new character. Tom Hiddleston could easily get away with coasting as Loki but he doesn’t. It says a lot about the rapport he and Chris Hemsworth have built up in that they can continue to find new spins on the relationship between Thor and Loki. And there are some truly fantastic action sequences such as the no holds barred fight between Thor and The Hulk, The Hulk Vs. The Fenris Wolf, Hela Vs. The Valkyries, Hela Vs. The Army of Asgard and the final showdown between Our Heroes and Hela.
In short, if you haven’t already seen THOR: RAGNAROK then you need to get yourself to a movie theater and do so. This is one terrific movie and I can’t recommend it highly enough. You want a movie that is nothing but entertaining from start to finish? THOR: RAGNAROK is it.