Walking into Thor Ragnarok I fully expected to not like it.  All of the calls of, “It’s the funniest Marvel movie ever!” puts me right off.  It isn’t that I need a comic book film to be devoid of humor.  But humor doesn’t need to be a part of the winning formula.  My favorite Marvel film is Captain America: The Winter Soldier which has some brief humor but is overall just a kickass action film.  That’s the feeling I want when I read comic books.  Do you know when I was laughing reading comic books?  When I used to read Spider-Ham.  So….yeah…

Thor Ragnarok wasn’t so bad, I guess.  I found it to be a decent film if not a totally Disneyesque formulaic production.  The few surprises that popped up were pretty damn refreshing.  Thor has an almost stoner dude quality to himself.  Loki seems to be less evil and more quippy.  I mean that’s fine – I think that’s the character.  Hulk finally speaks which I think is fantastic.

This film is a mishmash of several different ideas including Guardians of the Galaxy (the colors! the spaceships!), the Lord of the Rings (complete with Doors of Durin…plus having Cate Blanchett & Karl Urban doesn’t hurt), and most glaringly Greg Pak’s Planet Hulk.  For years fans have been clamoring for a Planet Hulk film that will never be made.  Making a Hulk film means Disney teaming with Universal.  They won’t do that.  So the screenwriters plucked a couple things from Planet Hulk and shoved them into this movie.  It’s a damn shame.  It pretty much kills a Planet Hulk film which, if done seriously, would put most Marvel movies to shame.  But I guess the words “serious” and “Marvel Studios” films shouldn’t be put together much anymore.

The basic plot is Thor is going to try and stop Ragnarok.  In the beginning of the film he actually faces long time Thor villain Surtur which I thought was pretty cool.  Stopping Surtur the 20 foot tall demon stops Ragnarok or so Thor thinks.  Returning to Asgard after something like two years, Thor finds Loki ruling Asgard and is quite ticked off.  Thor wonders where Odin is and forces Loki to take him to the all powerful God.  This is when the two end up on Earth.  Earth is barely in this movie (YAY!) but actually leads to several of the best scenes in the film very early on.

Through not much of a series of events….wait…let me rephrase this…from amazingly lazy convenient film writing Hela the Goddess of Death is released.  In this movie Hela is Thor’s sister and her return basically means she’ll take over Asgard AND bring about Ragnarok.  Hela is pretty bad ass.   Thor and Loki try to run back to Asgard but are followed by Hela who throws the duo out of the inter-dimensional portal back to Asgard.  Hela then starts laying waste to the people of Asgard.  She is the Goddess of Death after all.

Thor lands on Sakaar and is forced to fight by the Grandmaster.  The Grandmaster is Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum.  The Planet Hulk comic has a vicious leader who ran Sakaar called The Red King.  But because this is a Marvel comedy we need Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum instead.  I will fully admit that I do LOVE me some Jeff Goldblum and that Jeff Goldblum was good in the role playing himself once again.  But why have a vicious tyrant ruling over Sakaar when you can have Jeff Goldblum?  Because we need more funny.  I get it.

Thor is forced to be a gladiator which was the main aspect of the Planet Hulk series.  Thor does battle with the Hulk as everyone has seen in the commercials where Thor yells, “YES!  I know him!  He’s a friend from work!”  It’s all very stupid.  Luckily The Hulk has come to kick ass and I really like what they did with the Hulk in this movie.  Hulk was one of the best parts (along with Hela).  There are several other characters from Planet Hulk in the film including Hulk’s teammates Korg and Miek.  They do have a presence in the film but are not really the tough hardened warriors that they became in Planet Hulk.  They are used for (drumroll please) comic relief.

The film then becomes an escape film as Thor tries to figure out how to escape Sakaar and get back to fight Hela who he can’t possibly beat one on one.  So he needs to team up with his brother, Hulk, and Valykrie.  You know what is going to happen in the end because Hela needs to be defeated so Thor can win.  The way this is accomplished was pretty surprising so I also dug that a ton.  Except when you actually think about the ending and what that means for the universe.  Most people will walk out of the people not even caring.

The rave reviews are already in and the comic fans are already screaming how this film is one of their favorite Marvel films ever.  I’m going to put aside the bastardization of Planet Hulk from this review.  Most comic book fans have no clue what that is and don’t care that the movie does so.  This movie does try too hard to be funny – trying to interject humor whenever it can.  Maybe that’s the screenwriters and possibly director Taika Waititi.  I think more the screenwriters.  Waititi has done a shitton of comedy but his directing of comedy is much more subtle as witnessed by past directorial efforts like Eagle Vs Shark and HBO’s Flight of the Conchords.  Waititi directed one hell of a film here which means that directors have gotten much better putting their actors in front of green screen and building the rest of the movie in a computer later.

Cate Blanchett played Hela and she is my favorite actress.  Putting her in a Marvel film is a brilliant idea.  Casting her as a bad guy is even more brilliant.  The problem with all of this is Hela is vastly underused, she is extremely powerful and can decimate everyone, and then is able to be written off so easily in the third act. But the acting by Cate was pretty outstanding.

On the flip side Mark Ruffalo is back as Bruce Banner in a pretty phoned in performance that didn’t feel much like the Banner we know.  The movie actually addresses this plot point and, from a writing standpoint, I’ll accept what they told the audience.  But Ruffalo himself just seemed so off in this film.  He turned in a good performance in Age of Ultron but was nominated for an Academy Award for Spotlight.  WHICH HE SHOULD HAVE WON.  Ruffalo was so damn good as Boston Globe reporter Michael Rezendes and he should have taken that trophy home.  If you haven’t seen Spotlight I can’t recommend a movie higher (maybe McCarthy’s first film The Station Agent.  Or even The Visitor).  Compare the two performances and it is night and day.  I will fully acknowledge one film is a deep dark drama about priests molesting children while the other is about a guy who turns into a green monster who is flying around spaceships.  I’m not talking about the roles though – I’m just talking about Ruffalo’s actual acting.

Beyond that Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki are the basic same characters we’ve grown to love.  Hemsworth is a bit stupid in this film – moreso then the other film.  They’ve lightened up the character and this is because……because the screenwriters made him more funny because the film is more funny.  Loki is actually much less evil and probably would have taken away from the film except Hiddleston once again is able to steal the show.  He’s so awesome.

I guess I’ll touch on the rest of the characters.  Idris Elba is back as Heimdall and is actually given something to do in this movie.  Elba is really above this character and deserves a lead role as an actual Marvel hero.  When he is in the movie he is damn good.  Tessa Thompson plays Valykrie in a unconvincing role.  The character is supposed to be this uncaring drunk.  I sort of got the uncaring, didn’t buy the drunk, and didn’t buy Thompson as Valykrie.  Before anyone says, “Is it because Thompson is black?!?!?!” – no it isn’t that.  Put Taraji P. Henson in that role and I would have enjoyed it fifty times more.  Hell put her Hidden Figures co-star Octavia Spencer as Valykrie.  I bet Spencer would act the socks off most of these actors here.  I think it is Thompson’s acting (or the direction that was given) that just didn’t sell her character for me.

Karl Urban plays Skurge who ends up joining Hela.  He’s played by Karl Urban who is always badass in films no matter what part he is playing.  He plays a sniveling coward here and he plays the part beautifully.  The character actually collects things from around the planets and ends up finding two guns which he loves.  Two M-16s (or possibly AR-15s).  I will give away this very, very, very, very, very small plot point just because I don’t buy it.  In the beginning of the film Skurge shows off the rifles.  It ends up being foreshadowing because later Skurge ends up whipping them out from under a cloak and begins firing them.  We saw the character before he put this cloak on to hide.  He had no rifles.  When he whips out the rifles from the under the cloak he pulls them out of nowhere.  They are out of nowhere because the script dictated it not because he had three seconds of time to go get these rifles.  I can buy gigantic lava monsters, I can buy alien gladiators, I can buy the spaceships, I can buy a guy with a hammer who can fly through the air, but I can’t buy him whipping out the rifles.  It is lazy screenwriting and that’s all it is.  Most people will just right it off as, “Well it’s a comic book movie about a guy with a hammer so why are you worrying about the minutia?”  Because it is lazy screenwriting.  You choose to ignore it, fine.  I don’t.  And once he whips out the rifles?  Having one in each hand he fires about 100 bullets.  Even with the 30 round clips in each rifle he should have run out of bullets way quicker with his rate of fire.  YES I KNOW IT IS JUST A COMIC BOOK MOVIE BUT THESE THINGS BOTHER ME.  I don’t care that Hela can whip out dangerous super knives with just her thoughts.  But I care about Skurge not reloading a rifle and killing ad nauseam.  At least if you are going to foreshadow at least come up with a throwaway line in the beginning to write off the bad scripting.

Even with all the griping the film I still don’t think the movie is half bad.  I was not a huge fan of the Green Lantern remake Doctor Strange nor the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 which seemed to take away the fun of the first film (except for including Taserface – that was genius) and make Drax into some sort of laughing moron.  I did really enjoy Spider-Man Homecoming but as that was a joint Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios film I won’t include it. So Thor Ragnarok is the first Marvel Studios films I enjoyed since Civil War.  Though on an enjoyment scale Civil War is up there and Thor Ragnarok way down near the bottom.

My friend pointed out that he enjoyed the score of the film and the soundtrack.  I will say that the score may be the best thing about this film – it is that good.  As for the soundtrack it doesn’t take a genius to know that playing Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song to a battle sequence is a brilliant move.  Honestly it is perfect.  Much more perfect then having Baby Groot dancing around to Mr. Blue Sky during an action sequence.  But everyone loves Baby Groot so what the hell do I know.

Before the film the trailer for February’s Black Panther film played.  That 2 minute trailer beat the hell out of this entire film.  It doesn’t look like some goofy aw-shucks film.  There’s no shucking and jiving from T’Challa.  The film looks very similar in vein to Winter Soldier and that is what I want.  Sprinkle the film with some comedy but make it feel like a damn comic book film.  Black Panther has that feel.  I really can’t wait to see that movie and Black Panther is the first Marvel film since Civil War that I can’t wait to see.  I have a feeling that when Black Panther makes less than Thor Ragnarok they’ll want to then inject more comedy.  Forget the fact that this movie teams up Thor with Hulk…it is the comedy that made the move successful!

The first Thor saw the adventures of a God on Earth and it was a decent, passable film.  Thor: The Dark World was just a huge turd that stands as the worst of the worst of the Marvel films.  Thor Ragnarok is easily the best of the three films but would have been outstanding if they just didn’t make it so goddamn goofy all the time.  But it’s not terrible.  It’s not bad.  I don’t think it is one of the best Marvel movies ever made.  But I did like that Thor is out there in Asgard and the cosmos for a lot of the film and it isn’t just another Thor on Earth most of the time adventure.  But if you are going to make all of these films into comedy films at least recast Thor and Loki with some of Broken Lizard.  I don’t think I’d mind a Thor comedy so much with Kevin Heffernan as Thor and Jay Chandrasekhar as Loki.  Or at least have Chris and Tom as Thor and Loki in Thor 4: Baseketball Part II.

RANK: B

 

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not so much Hela

the score, led zeppelin

dr strange guardians 2 spideyhomecoming

m16s

2 minute black panther trailer

my friend dahmer