Thor: Ragnarok (2017): ‘A Matter of Style and Tone’ – A Film Review

Introduction

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been at the forefront of cinema for a while now. Really hitting home with The Avengers that tied Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and Thor together. This has only expanded since then, as comic book movies and superheroes got bigger and bigger. Each movie advances each character’s overarching story and strengthens the relationships between the films, and histories are built between the characters. So by the time we’ve gotten to Thor: Ragnarok we have a thorough understanding of Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and to some extent Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Heimdall (Idris Elba)and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano); as well as the importance of the Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) cameo. Thor: Ragnarok is also the end of the trilogy of Thor films and as such is almost a mini franchise within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and has it’s own expectations to live up to. Thor and Thor: Dark World were not exactly the big films that they were hoping to be in spite of setting up key characters to the universe. It has been implied previously that Guardians of the Galaxy, like Ant-Man and Dr Strange, would be integrated into this universe and with Avengers: Infinity War just round the corner – it’s an exciting time for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

 

Ratings

Entertainment:

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Performances:

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Predictability:

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Technical:

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Guardians of Asgard

Sitting between many moments in the timeline, Thor: Ragnarok thematically and visually feels like a bridge between films. The vast amount of colours and the designs of Asgard are back and if you didn’t like them before then you won’t like them here either. But as the narrative develops the visual look starts to take on a set design, mise-en-scène and colour palette akin to Guardians of the Galaxy. This makes sense as the film starts to look towards the films to come and how to fit in with the rest of the universe. As mentioned Dr. Strange makes a cameo establishing his involvement within this reality as well. This would appear to be what the film is trying to do and does walk a fine line of being consistent with Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy. Unfortunately the CGI work isn’t the best and holds back some characters particularly when they’re completely CGI or even worse: fighting. Hela (Cate Blanchett) attempts to be sinister and powerful but battles are to the powerful moves of video game characters, whilst having the CGI of Neo versus Smith from the Matrix sequels. This perhaps has one exception. SPOILERS: The fight between Thor and Hulk. END OF SPOILERS.

 

The uh Jokes and uh Entertainment?

Despite the problems with the look of Thor: Ragnarok, it remains to be entertaining. The cast pull together very well and keep an endearing energy to each character, whilst keeping a tongue in cheek humour throughout. This is a bit of a welcome change for a Marvel Cinematic Universe film, as it sets Thor: Ragnarok apart from Thor and Thor: Dark World, which were more serious. The humour keeps appropriate in a way that doesn’t undermine the serious moments of the film and keeps the energy fun and exciting. Newcomers Krog (Taika Waititi)and Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum)really add to this sense of humour, though Grandmaster runs the risk of bringing the films level down to camp. For all of the more entertaining and well-acted performances in the film, we are still left with some scenes that could have been better constructed. Problems lie around the antagonist: destructive power over challenge, not helped by the unfortunate fight sequences. SPOILERS: Furthermore, Skurge (Karl Urban), though performed well with a fitting character arc only is problematic in his position as Hela’s henchman as she has no reason to trust him but for plot. Similarly a missed opportunity arises in the death of Hogun, this does not affect the characters in any way – not even a second of sadness. END OF SPOILERS.

 

Conclusion

Overall Thor: Ragnarok does what it’s meant to do. It’s entertaining and brings new characters (Dr. Strange) into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and sets up a new look to the future. Whilst it has moments of humour and holds a tongue in cheek lack of seriousness to the tone, Thor: Ragnarok is entertaining but by no means perfect. The overall design is partly a product of previous films and partly the problems of a reliance on CGI that doesn’t always deliver. With a central cast being so strong and well established by now it is refreshing to see them take such a light hearted tone and it is this that remains at the core of Thor: Ragnarok’s entertainment.

 

A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below for any who wish to see one.

 

Synopsis

Hela, Thor and Loki’s unknown sister, returns to destroy Asgard. In their travels back to asgard, Thor and Loki fall on to the planet Sakaar, where they need to make their escape to help their home.

 

Films Mentioned

Ant-Man (d. Peyton Reed USA 2015)

Avengers: Infinity War (d. Anthony Russo, Joe Russo USA 2018)

Doctor Strange (d. Scott Derrickson USA 2016)

Guardians of the Galaxy (d. James Gunn USA 2014)

The Avengers (d. Joss Whedon  USA 2012) 

The Matrix Reloaded (d. Andy WachowskiLana Wachowski USA/Australia 2003)

The Matrix Revolutions (d. Andy WachowskiLana Wachowski USA/Australia 2003)

Thor (d. Kenneth Branagh USA 2011)

Thor: Dark World (d. Alan Taylor USA 2013)

Thor: Ragnarok (d. Taika Waititi USA 2017)

 

Further Reading

rottentomatoes.com

metacritic.com

Official Site

Interview with Taika Waititi

Interview with Chris Hemsworth

Interview with Javier Aguirresarobe (Cinematographer)

Behind the Scenes

Easter Eggs

Bloopers

The future of Marvel

Avengers: Disassemble

 

If you liked this…

Doctor Strange (2016) – A Film Review

Captain America: Civil War (2016) – A Film Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) – A Film Review

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – A Film Review

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – A Film Review

Spider-man: Homecoming (2017) – A Film Review

Iron Man 3 (2013) – A Film Review

 

This was an analytical review of….

 

Thor: Ragnarok (d. Taika Waititi USA 2017)



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