“Piss off ghost!”

Brothers will fight

and kill each other,

sisters’ children

will defile kinship.

It is harsh in the world,

Whoredom rife

—an axe age, a sword age

—shields are riven—

a wind age, a wolf age—

before the world goes headlong.

No man will have

               mercy on another.

               And a vessel built for orgies

               Shall enter the devil’s anus

                                                   Prophecy of the Volva

 

Pity Joss Whedon.

I mean okay, he’s a hugely successful film and TV professional with a devoted fanbase and more money than a fabled king of old so don’t pity him too much but….yeah, squeeze out a tear for the guy.

See, Age of Ultron was an absolute nightmare for Whedon, not least because of Marvel’s insistence that he grind his movie to a halt several times to painstakingly set up the dark, gritty, epic, Thor 3. Ohhhh it was going to be so dark and gritty, you guys. Look! Heimdall’s blind! That’s how dark we’re talking. And there were snakes and dark, gritty, sexy dancing.

What exactly does this have to do with robots destroying the world?

And then Marvel gave the job of helming the movie to Taika Waititi, celebrated fim-maker and Māori god of mischief and trickery and he was all “Hee hee! I shall use none of this! And I have cast a spell on your wife and swopped faces with her, for she is beautiful and I am ugly! Ha ha!” And then he transformed into a bird and flew out the window, leaving Joss Whedon to wonder what the fuck just happened and thinking that maybe making DC movies for Warners wasn’t actually the worst idea in the world.

INCORRECT.

Anyway, the Vikings were a bunch of monastery razing, monk-stabbing, Battle-of-Clontarf-losing assholes but I’ll give them this; they knew how to do series finales. The tales of the Norse gods end with a big, stonking climactic battle where pretty much every major god dies including the really popular ones like Thor, Odin and Loki because the Vikings were not overly concerned with action figure sales. Ragnarok (or Ragnarök when it’s got its little hat on) is the most famous of all these tales, and not surprisingly, the Thor comic has retold it many times over the years, usually when sales are a little slack. And typically, these stories tend to be pretty grim affairs like the sagas they’re based on. And I totally thought that’s where they were going with this movie. Heck, for a long time I bet Marvel thought that’s where they were going with this movie. Everything was set up for it. The Dark World ends with Odin seemingly dead, and Loki secretly ruling Asgard. Age of Ultron seemlessly and organically (hah!) hinted at a desperate Götterdämmerung for Thor and his homies.

We knew what to expect. It was not this.

So the movie begins with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) imprisoned by the fire demon Surtur (Clancy fucking Brown!) and narrating as to how he got here. After his totally accurate visions in Age of Ultron he went looking for the Infinity Stones but couldn’t find them because they were, respectively, on Knowhere, Xander, Asgard,  Vision’s noggin, Benedict Cumberbatch’s elegant, swan-like neck and on the planet Vormir being guarded by…

“Hey! Hey! Hey! Spoilers, GAWD!”

Sorry. So Thor is brought before Surtur who reveals his big plan to bring Ragnarok to Asgard and Thor is all “cool story bro” and breaks out of his chains with Mjolnir and then, oh Lord…

Thor. God of Thunder. Fights an army of fire demons. Kills Surtur. Takes his crown. Flies away while volcanoes erupts. Chased by a GODDAMNED ROCKET POWERED FUCKING DRAGON. All to the chords of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”.

It is fucking METAL. It is awesome. It’s just…

Like, the rest of the movie could be Thor and Loki sitting in a blandly furnished room discussing fiscal policy as it pertains to emerging markets and I’d be still like “damn, that was awesome”. THAT is how you open a movie.

Anyway, Thor returns to Asgard and is surprised to see that Bifrost is not guarded by Heimdall but by Skurge (Karl Urban), a shifty bloke who’s been using Bifrost to steal “stahf”.

Thor doesn’t like new daddy and wants to know where old daddy is and Skurge says that Odin had Heimdall exiled for treason. Which obviously is RIDICULOUS because no one’s more loyal than Heimdall.

“Well, he DID betray Lolki when Odin was asleep and he was the rightful ruler of Asgard.”

“Oh yeah. And he betrayed Odin to help me break Loki out of jail. Damn. He WAS disloyal.”

Well anyway, Thor doesn’t think that the fact that he’s betrayed the rightful king of Asgard twice in as many movies is any reason to suspect Heimdall and flies off to confront Odin. To his horror, he finds that in his absence Asgard has become a peaceful paradise with liberal funding for the arts. Odin and his court are watching a play depicting Loki’s death saving Thor in The Dark World and damn but the Asgard Community Players were able to bring in some top tier talent, having cast Luke Hemsworth as Thor, Sam Neill as Odin and  Matt Damon as Loki. (Must be an am-dram contest coming up and they brought in some ringers. The Coolock Musical Society used to pull shit like that all the time. Like sure, Liam Neeson just happens to live in the neighbourhood and wanted to be in your production of Chicago. Right.)

Now, of course, when last we saw Loki he was impersonating Odin and ruling in his stead. And, friend, if you’re ever blue and in need of cheering up, I implore you to watch this scene of Anthony Hopkins pretending to be Tom Hiddleston pretending to be Loki pretending to be Odin. Pure joy. Just, sunshine on a screen.

Having finally figured what’s going on, Thor forces Loki to reveal himself and threatens him until he reveals where Odin is.

Turns out Loki, God of Mischief, stuck his father in a retirement home. They journey to New York and find that Odin’s retirement home is just a pile of rubble (I think that place was featured on 60 Minutes). Loki patiently explains that the retirement home wasn’t a pile of rubble when he put Odin in it and they’re interrupted by two girls who want to take a selfie with Thor. Interestingly, they’re apparently big enough fans to know who he is, know who Jane is, and know that they broke up, but not who Loki is. Or maybe they just mistook him for somebody else.

“Oh wow, I didn’t know you were friends with Tommy Wiseau!”

Loki suddenly disappears and is replaced by a small business card instructing him to come to an address on Bleecher street. Thor meets Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) who icily asks to know why he’s brought Loki, (aka the Asgardian Bin Landen) back to New York. Thor explains the sitch and Strange is all “So, I tell you where Odin is you’ll piss off?” and Thor is all “Verily” so Strange agrees to help them. He releases Loki from a pocket dimension where he’s been falling further than American prestige and teleports them to Norway where Odin is gazing wistfully over a cliff.

Odin tells his sons that they have a secret sister called Hela that he hid from them all these years and they’re all “Oh God, is this going to be like the last season of Sherlock?!” and Odin’s all “No, no, don’t worry, she’s just going to destroy the world” and they’re all “Oh thank Christ.” He tells them that Hela is the goddess of death and that she got really into her work and so he had to squirrel her away but now he’s dying and she’s coming back and she’s going to kill everyone. So, to be clear, Odin’s plan for protecting the world from Hela involved him never, ever dying at any point.

Odin tells his sons that he loves them both, and vanishes like a Jedi.

Thor is just about to smush Loki’s face all over the fjords when Hela (Cate Blanchett) arrives and oh me oh my.

Firstly, have we really gotten to seventeen films without a female main antagonist? God damn.

Second, oh my lord but I love this. Yeah, yeah, she’s not exactly the most layered villain in the MCU (though I think Blanchett finds plenty of interesting wrinkles) but honestly WHO CARES? Hela is a RIOT. She is a wise-cracking, all-powerful dominatrix who never told the universe the safe word. She is a HOOT.

She is also off-the-charts powerful. She demands that Thor and Loki kneel before her and when Thor responds with a hammer to the face she catches Mjolnir in mid-air and crushes it with her bare hands.

Loki screams for the Bifrost, but as they get beamed up Hela follows them and kicks them out of the stream. She arrives alone in Asgard and promptly slaughters Volstagg and Fandral. She spares Skurge though, as he’s got a “Gríma Wormtongue” vibe that she figures she can use.

Meanwhile, Thor has got his ass kicked so hard that has ended up in a completely different movie. Namely, he’s a in a sci-fi B-movie from the eighties with a kick-ass electro soundtrack and a demented crayola colour pallette that I just adore. Ragnarok has the most distinctive feel of any of the movies of the MCU so far and it’s glorious. Thor ends up in a massive junkyard where he gets ambushed by scavengers who want to eat him. He gets rescued by Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), who gets one of the all-time great character introductions when she steps out of her spaceship, barks “He’s mine” and then stumbles off the gangway and falls into a decaying monster carcass because she’s so pissed she can hardly stand. Notwithstanding, she massacres all the scavengers and subdues Thor with a little neck-thingy and takes him to meet oh my stars and garters…

Yes. YES.

This is Jeff Goldblum, played by Jeff Goldblum. Jeff Goldblum was the best possible choice to play Jeff Goldblum. I can think of no other actor than Jeff Goldblum who could have so perfectly captured the essence of Jeff Goldblum. Jeff Goldblum, of course, originated the part of Jeff Goldblum, but I think this may be his finest performance as Jeff Goldblum.

“Jeff? I need you to play Jeff Goldblum.”

“What..uh…what are..uh, uh, talking about? Exactly? I ALWAYS…uh, play, uh myself.”

“No Jeff. No. I need the real Jeff Goldblum. Pure. Total. I need true Goldblum.”

“You mad fool. The world is not ready.”

“Then let it BURN!”

So despite being an alien overlord who forces slaves to fight to the death for his amusement, Jeff Goldblum is a really fun guy who deejays and throws awesome parties and frankly we need more villains like that. He buys Thor from Valkyrie and at one of his banging parties Thor sees Loki who pretends that he’s never met him. Jeff Goldblum tells Thor that if he defeats his champion in the arena, he’ll win his freedom and throws him in a cell with Korg, a very polite rock monster who is played by Taika Waititi magically disguised as part of a ruse to steal fire for humanity far too complicated to go into here.

Meanwhile, Hela has just pulled a one-woman Helm’s Deep on the forces of Asgard, killing Hogun in the process. In Odin’s throne room, Hela is furious that she’s been erased from Asgard’s history. This is Waititi’s commentary on how nations gloss over the uglier aspects of their history, like how the British never talk about the atrocities that were committed by the empire, or how we Irish never mention the reason Sean Hannity’s ancestors were exiled centuries ago.

It involved pigs and having sex with things. I shall say no more.

Back on Sakaar, Loki visits Thor in his cell and tells him that he’s managed to ingratiate his way into Juff Goldblum’s favour with his penis and that if he and Thor play their cards right they could be running this shitpile. But Thor is adamant that he’s going to defeat Jeff Goldblum’s undefeatable champion  and win his freedom. While preparing for his first big fight, he sees a tattoo on Valkyrie’s arm and realises what she is. He tells Valkryie that, as a boy, he always looked up to the Valkyrior and wanted to be one which is nice and all but makes none of the sense. Because, as we later learn, the Valkrior were wiped out by Hela before Thor was even born. Look, here’s a picture that just happens to be the most gorgeous thing ever set to film.

“No words. Should have sent a poet.”

He asks Valkyrie to help him escape, but she’s all “newp” because she’s kinda done with Odin and Asgard and the whole schmear. Thor is thrown into the arena and finally gets a helmet with little wings, as he always should have had, and comes face to face with Jeff Goldlum’s champion, who, it turns out, is a friend from work.

No one has ever reacted this way to meeting someone from work outside the office. No one.

The arena fight is chock full of great moments. I’ll says this for Taika Waititi, he’s perfectly willing to say “piss off ghost!” to the previous films if it serves his purpose, but he’s also capable of mining continuity for fantastic gags. Like Loki’s horrified “I have to get off this planet” when he sees the Hulk for the first time, or Hulk tossing Thor around in the exact same way he did to Loki. Finally, Thor has enough and unleashes a huge thunder blast at Hulk. It actually looks like he’s going to beat him but then Jeff Goldblum activates his neck thingy and shocks him unconscious (Vince McMahon pulls shit like that all the time).

Thor wakes up in Hulk’s bedroom, which is not a shock that anyone needs, and discovers that Hulk can actually string full sentences together which I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen before. Thor asks Hulk how he got to Sakaar and Hulk says that his Quinjet just randomly flew through a wormhole and ended up on the planet. Which…seems awfully convenient. Are wormholes just randomly opening on to earth now? Meh. Maybe it’s an after-effect of the Chitauri invasion. Anyway, Hulk shows Thor where his Quinjet landed and Thor activates Natasha’s last message to Bruce. This causes Hulk to freak out and smash the Quinjet before reverting back to Bruce (Mark Ruffalo). So, here’s the thing.

Ruffalo is playing a completely different character than in the first two Avengers movies. Whereas Avengers Bruce Banner came off as someone who could give you plenty of trouble in a fight even without the Hulk, this time around it feels like Ruffalo is playing him like a Woody Allen character, all nervy and neurotic. I can handwave it, though. If the “I’m always angry” Bruce we saw in Avengers was Banner at his most balanced, then this is Banner at his most unbalanced. He’s been Hulk for two years straight, meaning that the Banner we see here is the most “Banner” he’s ever been, all Banner and no Hulk whatsoever. And he’s kinda a dork.

Jeff Goldblum isn’t happy with his prize fighter going missing and sets Valkyrie and Loki on his tail. Valkryie quickly overpowers Loki and when she finds Thor she tells him that she’s had a change of heart and is going to help him get back to Asgard.

Valkyrie takes them back to her apartment where she’s got Loki tied up and hey! Hey! I see you fancficcers typing away, you cut that out! Thor forms a new team called “The Revengers” (action figures coming soon to a Tawainese supermarket near you) and Loki offers to help them steal Jeff Goldblum’s ship so they can get back to Asgard. On the way to the hanger, Thor tells Loki that he should stay in Sakaar because it’s perfect for him and Thor finally realises that his brother is never going to change his ways and that Loki should just do Loki.

What I love about this movie is that it recognises that there’s really only so long Loki and Thor can continue their endless cycle of betrayal and redemption before it gets old. By this stage, Thor and Loki are like the wolf and sheepdog from that old Warner Bros cartoon, just clocking in every morning and trying to destroy each other for an eight hour shift without any real malice. It’s just what they do. Sure enough, Loki tries to betray Thor to claim the bounty on him but Thor was expecting this (because of course he was) and leaves Loki with a neck thingy shocking him while he steals Jeff Goldblum’s gold orgy spaceship, which Jeff Goldblum very kindly leant the producers for this movies.

“Just…uh…uh, WASH it first?”

A thought occurred to me as I watched Thor and the Revengers speeding towards a giant wormhole called the devil’s anus while blasting spaceships with lasers while Mark Mothersbaugh’s awesome techno score rippled in the background: is this movie the greatest thing ever?

Yes. Yes it is.

Returning to Asgard, Thor meets up with Heimdall and his resistance movement and they take the fight to Hela. Thor confronts her in the throne room and tells her that he’d love to let her rule Asgard but for the fact that she’s bilgesnipe-shit crazy and as evil as Twitter. They fight and she gouges out his eye. Thor has a vision of Odin and tells him that he can’t defeat Hela without his hammer, and Odin replies “Are you Thor, god of hammers?” and explains that the hammer never gave him his powers, it just kept them in check.

Back in the real world, Hela hisses “I’m the goddess of death. What were you the god of again?”

Hela? I love ya. But you deserve everything that happens to you now.

Meanwhile, the Revengers and Heimdall are leading the last remaining Asgardians to the Bifrost when they’re trapped by Hela’s forces. All seems lost but then Loki shows up with a massive spaceship along with Korg and Meek.

Guys? I’m starting to think Loki might be a bit of a drama queen.

Thor realises that Hela is just too powerful and that a civilization built on genocide and conquest must eventually collapse under the weight of its own moral culpability he has to blow up Asgard to make Hela go boom. He gets Loki to throw Surtur’s helmet into the eternal flame, thereby triggering the very Ragnarok he was trying so hard to prevent oh what glorious irony! Surtur grows to Godzilla-size and starts thrashing Asgard while Thor tries his hardest to convince Hulk not to smash the giant monster.

“IF HULK NOT SMASH GIANT MONSTER, WHAT EVEN IS HULK? WHAT HULK’S PURPOSE? WOULD YOU DENY HULK AIR HULK BREATH? WOULD YOU DENY HULK PROVIDENCE THAT SUSTAIN HULK?”

And the movie ends with Surtur and Hela locked in a death battle as Thor leads his people through space looking for a new home and a place to start again and make a better Asgard.

“Guys, I know we’ve been through a lot. But trust me. It’s plain sailing from here on in.”

***

Good god DAMN but I love Phase 3. Ragnarok might not have the emotional heft of Guardians 2 but it is a sumptuous, effortlessly cool, frickin’ hilarious joy from start to finish.

Scoring

Adaptation 24/25

Throws Planet Hulk in a blender with a real loosey-goosey re-telling of several Thor storylines and somehow emerges with the best MCU film thus far. Hey, I’m not gonna question it.

Our Heroic Hero: 25/25

 “Wow! Chris Hemsworth is actually really good!” Yeah, I know. “Wow! He’s actually incredibly funny with killer comedic chops!” Yeah, I know. “Wow! He’s really found new layers and interesting things to do with what is, on the surface, a very one-note character!” Yeah, thanks for joining me rest of the world.

Our Nefarious Villains 23/25:

Cate Blanchett as Aussie S&M Maleficent? Oh, I could never be on board with that.

Our Plucky Sidekicks: 25/25

It’s called “the Loki rule”, people. Loki as a supporting character equals instant perfect score. Plus Valkyrie, Doctor Strange, Korg, Hulk, Grandmaster…I mean, it’s be a 38 if the scale went that high.

First Stinger:

Thor and Loki decide to go back to Earth despite Loki being a wanted war criminal. The two brothers share a tender moment that hints that they’ve finally managed to break from the past and move beyond their old rivalry. Thor says that everything’s going to be alright, and then Thanos’ ship appears.

And the audience went:

 

Second Stinger:

The Grandmaster is captured by the Scavengers and congratulates them on a successful revolution, while taking some of the credit.

And the audience went:

Meh. Possibly the one joke that doesn’t really land for me.

Infinity Gem Count: 5

No new gems, but the Tesseract (Space Stone), gets a cameo when Hela sees it in the treasure room and admits that its “not bad”.

Wait a minute, was that Stan Lee?!

That was Stan Lee, sinning against nature by cutting Thor’s magnificent golden locks.

Hey, what’s Thanos doing?

Thanos is…oh crap.

Thanos is about to prove me very, very wrong about being a lame villain.

FINAL SCORE: 97%

NEXT UPDATE 24 May 2017

NEXT TIME: We look at what was, for a hot minute, generally considered the best comic book movie of all time…

47 comments

  1. Honestly I personally found Ragnarok kind of insufferable. There were certainly good parts but on the whole I found both villains completely dull and I couldn’t really get into it at all between the two basically wholly unrelated narratives of completely different tones and the way it couldn’t let anything be serious for two seconds without undercutting it with a stupid joke.

    1. This was a fun movie that fit well within the MCU, but it was too corporate and SO DUMB that it may wind up being pretty forgettable. The characterizations and dialogue make Stan Lee look like Snorri Sturluson.

      1. I mean, I wrote several paragraphs below as to why I didn’t like this movie, but I’m having a hard time understanding your point of view. If you want “corporate,” “dumb,” and “forgettable,” I’ll direct you to Justice League or last year’s Mummy movie. While, on a whole, I didn’t care for Ragnarok, I cannot deny that it is a visually stunning film, an aesthetic of a very specific and passionate filmmaker, and one that I can’t in good conscience call “forgettable” not just because of the two aforementioned points, but because Ragnarok comes after the other two Thor movies, The Dark World in particular I’d reason as being far more forgettable than Ragnarok.

  2. I read somewhere that the director said he’d have hired Freddie Mercury to do the soundtrack if he was still alive; he considered Flash Gordon a big inspiration.

  3. Hey, remember when the worst, most heartbreaking thing that had ever happened in the MCU was Yondu’s voluntary self sacrifice?

    Ah. What innocent children we were. Two weeks ago.

    Also, I’ll pay Marvel all 10 of my euros for a Valkyrie/Korg/Miek spinoff. The ultimate Good Cop/Bad Cop/Ugly Cop flick.

    She’s a booze-swilling veteran with PTSD, and a dragon tooth sword.

    He’s a…nice, rock, guy. With a hammer gun thing.

    And also there’s an incredibly violent stabby slug alien.

    They’ll have to put aside…OK, she’ll have to resist the urge to just get obliterated, and corral the only survivors of her homeworld. And the other two will, be, there?

  4. Oh man after Infinity War it was nice to revisit the simpler time of two movies ago. Such a great movie. While I do enjoy Thor 1 and am apathetic to Thor 2, this one is definitely one of the most rewatchable MCU movies for me.

  5. I think it is the fate of the Thor movies to be really uneven. The first one had an excellent Loki story but an generic Thor story. The second one had an outstanding Loki story and a god awful Thor story. The third one has a blast with Thor on Sakar but everything related to Ragnarök is really, really meh. If not for Kate Blanchet carrying the audience through those parts of the movie all on her own just by chewing up the scenery left and right (god, I love her! We don’t deserve her!), it wouldn’t work at all.

    And honestly, I am one of those people who didn’t like the movie all that much. I don’t hate it, but for one, I feel kind of cheated because I was really looking forward to Thor interacting with Odin not knowing that it was really Loki and trying to figure out what is going on is Asgard – preferably making me actually like the people in Asgard for a change BEFORE blowing it up, and two, while the tone of the Director works excellent for a Planet Hulk movie, it didn’t work for a Ragnarök movie at all. I was frankly frustrated with the movie because it undercut every single serious scene with a joke.

    Unpopular opinion, but to me the first Thor is still the best. It is the most balanced and doesn’t have this “let’s disregard what was set up before me” problem the later on had. I rather would have this two movies, one about Sakar, one about Ragnarök.

  6. Thor 3 was pretty damn good. Easily one of the most fun movies I’ve seen in the theater. Not sure if it’s the best MCU movie to date, but it’s a damn good one. Also, Mouse…I know you’re saving it for later, but what’d you think ’bout Infinity War? (I’ve seen it.)

  7. Mouse, having seen INFINITY WAR I just wanted to say “THIS is why we Do NOT taunt the Mad Titan” you flippant Irish murine you!

    1. This is all Mouse’s fault. Thanos was totally comfy in his chair, but Mouse just had to keep needling him about getting up…

    2. Yeah, I was about to say, Mouse is going to have to be eating his words pretty soon at the months of belittling Thanos’ payoff as a Big Bad.

  8. On a more serious note, RAGNAROK is a film full-worthy of a Queen + Freddie Mercury soundtrack; I would say more, but what praise could be higher? (on a less serious note, as a Proud & Patriotic Briton one would like to point out that we don’t really discuss the faults of British Empire is because the Rest of the World is having far too much fun telling us all about them, in detail and at such length that they’ll probably still be at it long after the centennial of decolonisation has come & gone).

    Getting back to RAGNAROK, I have to say that the THOR movies might well be my very favourite part of the MCU and the third instalment in this particular serial has done nothing to change my mind, from start to finish (particular praise to THE MIGHTY HEMSWORTH, the crafty Hiddleston, Hela the Very Best of the Worst – subtly in villains can be thoroughly overrated – Big ‘dris Elba, Tessa Thompson now my second favourite Superhero Warrior Woman* and all those other invaluable players, movers & shakers who make this film a delightfully cheesy joy).

    (Having said that, I still love Mr Patrick Doyle’s score for the first THOR more than I do Mr Mothersbaugh’s very excellent work – I’m also partial to the former’s work on Sir Kenneth Branagh’s FRANKENSTEIN – for when I think of the Thunderer’s personal theme, ’tis “Thor Kills the Destroyer” that pops into my head, not one of the tracks from his latest soundtrack suite).

    *Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman will be #1 for the foreseeable future and not just because I’m a DC gumshoe at heart (I thought about calling myself a “Detective Comics Bull” but recognised that would be the internet equivalent of painting a bullseye on my t-shirt and walking onto a shooting range singing “Shot through the heart”).

  9. By the way, I do hope all is well with the Fine Luch? (one trusts that the Lady Mouse and Miss Mouse are doing well, as well as your Good Self?).

    *Your EVIL Self can, of course, suffer in silence so far as I’m concerned. 😉

  10. This movie leaves me numb, and it baffles me. When it came out, I’d heard praise like you give it, and then I walk in the the theatre and…nothing. Kept giving it chances to do something for me – nada. I got so bored I started playing smartphone games beneath my coat, and I walked out around the time they’re escaping Sakaar. As I drove home, I worried, “Oh, God, did I just enter the mammajamma of all clinical depressions?” but then I went home, played some video games, and had a grand old time. Later, I rented it to see if anything changed and…nope. For me, this movie is like the event horizon of a black hole in terms of emotional response.

    And I can’t Express WHY. All I’ve got is a few theories:

    1) I had some ex-friends who were really hyped for this movie, then we had a fight, and now I might have a deep, psychological scar that prevents me from liking anything about this film. Which would be a bummer, because I’d gladly take the movie YOU see over those dipshits.

    2) Taika Waititi seems incapable of NOT being casual. Taika don’t give a fuck. And when you make a Marvel movie that doesn’t pretend to care about plot or characterization, you get a bunch of hollow CGI action and corny jokes you see coming a mile away, and it’s super dull.

    3) Ragnarok seems to unceremoniously close the door on the Asgardian side of the Marvel Universe, and it frustrates me because I don’t think any of the Thor movies ever really adapted what makes a Thor comic good. It felt more like we got two episodes of Doctor Who, followed by an episode of Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy. It seems possible that’s all we might ever get, and I think that’s sad.

    …and even then, none of those theories really satisfies me on why this movie does not work for me. I just don’t get it. It’s weird.

    Also, we’ve gotta be at least a year or so out before we cross that bridge, but are you covering the Deadpool movies in the X-Men series?

  11. Well, I was planning to begin this by saying I seem to be in the minority in my opinion…but just scrolling down through the comments thus far, it looks like I’m not the only one who came out with middling opinions about Thor: Ragnarok, so that’s a little reassuring.

    Here’s the short version: Everything on Sakaar was awesome. The set design, music, characters, all top notch. But the movie would screech to a halt once it would go back to Asgard.

    I just…did not like Hela. Sure, Blanchett was chewing up the scenery to an amusing extent, and the costuming was pretty cool, but there was next to nothing about her. And keep in mind, I’m one of those guys who will defend Ronan in the first Guardians (Speaking of which Mouse, have you heard both Ronan and Korath will be coming back for the Captain Marvel movie next year?) Yes, she is powerful, but I just felt she was WAY too overpowered. Without spoiling anything about Infinity War, I’ll just say that I felt a much more visceral sense of dread and anticipation with the fight scenes, especially with Thanos. It actually felt like two (Or more) characters using everything in their own respective capability to fight against one another. I had no such feeling when Hela was fighting ANYBODY; she was just conveniently OP’d to everyone, even “third act, character arc complete” Thor. Which is weird, since literally only the fight scenes with Hela feel this way to me; all the other action in Ragnarok is pretty solid in my book. To top it off, I felt no investment or drive in Hela; she could have been replaced completely by Surtur and I feel nothing would have changed.

    And…unless Waititi has said this explicitly, I feel the whole colonialism metaphor is just a bit contrived (Not just with the fact that, you know, descendants of colonialists aren’t really morally culpable in the actions of their ancestors and maybe don’t deserve to be displaced from the only home they’ve ever known just because of shit that happened in the past. Just a thought.) To me, it just felt like a cheap way to give Hela a backstory and motivation HALFWAY through the movie. Which brings me to the biggest point about Ragnarok, that everything I didn’t like about it (A.k.a. Asgard itself) is so blatantly course correction. Waititi clearly had a vision, and he undeniably has a great eye for visual flair (I’m so happy he’s finally been given a movie with a budget like this). If Waititi was allowed to just do a Planet Hulk movie, it would have been fantastic, but unfortunately it was never going to happen (Thanks for that, Universal. You’re really using those movie rights splendidly). But there was clearly work to do first in order for Waititi to be able to make the movie he wanted. And, in his defense, the Thor movies are admittedly some of the weakest of the MCU. So as much as I want to belittle Ragnarok’s disingenuous attitude in the previous installments (Breaking up Thor and Jane off-screen, killing off two thirds of the Warriors Three so unceremoniously, destroying Asgard itself)…even I can’t bring myself to get angry, because I had such little investment in. I love the craftsmanship in Ragnarok immensely, and I’m happy that it will likely catapult Waititi into working on even more projects (He’s already trying to turn “What We Do In the Shadows” into an inter-connected TV universe), but I can’t really get myself to get invested in it. The story of Ragnarok IS about rebirth, and I have no idea what shape the MCU is going to take soon, so if there’s some way that Asgard and the whole Thor mythos can be done better in the near future, I’ll be all for it.

    One more thing: Am I the only one that noticed a minor parallel between Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther? Both Ragnarok and Panther are about the prince of a grand nation who must take up the reigns of leadership following the passing of his beloved father, only to realize that the seemingly wise kings before him (Including his late father) are guilty of transgressions that taint the spirit of their nation and is up to him to resolve it and craft a better, more honest future for his people. Hell, both movies had the main characters interact with their ghost dads two times in the movie looking for guidance. I am of the opinion that Panther handled this aspect PHENOMENALLY better…but I’ll get more into that when you review that one 😉

    1. On the merits of revolutionary destruction as a response to a civilization with a violent history, my own opinions… strongly differ from Waititi’s apparent stance. But I have to defend the movie: the political metaphor is *not* contrived. In fact, it’s right in line with the themes of the Ragnarok myth going back to when the original Vikings were telling it. They may not have had advanced theoretical critiques of colonialism, but their Ragnarok is still a reckoning for Odin’s crimes according to their own clan-based compensatory justice: Odin killed the first giant Ymir to create the world, and so Ymir’s children are going to destroy the world and take their vengeance on him. And the story doesn’t end there. Fast forward a millennium or so to Richard Wagner, and he writes the myth into his operas as a flat-out socialist allegory which eventually goes to some weird places. So, even if Thor: Ragnarok is the first retelling to have Fenrir do battle with the Incredible Hulk, I see Waititi as being faithful to a long, long tradition. And by my reading of him, he’s *way* too smart not to have known exactly what he was doing.

      1. I wasn’t entirely on board with the metaphor at first. But then Ms Mouse pointed out that Asgard isn’t supposed to be America or Britain but the British Empire.

      2. Allow me to clarify: I don’t believe the metaphor itself is contrived; I have no clue what the actual intent was with the story’s through-line, and if it’s how some interpret the movie, far be it for me to tell someone that their opinion is wrong. I just didn’t buy it myself. Maybe I’m just cynical, I just viewed it as an easy way to re-route the plot into the “thing that we’ve been trying to avoid is actually the solution”-type twist way too late in the game.

        Speaking of “hot takes”…that’s an interesting point you make about Odin in the original Ragnarok tale, how not even the gods are exempt of retribution, because when you think about it Odin is kind of a bastard. He spends ages ordering the mass pillaging of Asgard, locks up his daughter/executioner when the war is over and scrubs up all that nasty business, and ultimately gets out scot free, forcing his sons to clean up his mess for him. This ties into that Black Panther parallel I mentioned in my earlier comment, but again, all in due time. 😏

        One more note: Can we agree that Skurge was an utterly pointless character? He’s only there for Hela to exposit to, we have no hold on his personality other than being a braggart, he never has the inconvenience of having to get his hands dirty, and ultimately dies an undignified death. Kevin Feige claimed that the Warriors Three were given “noble ends,” which is obviously total bullshit. If you really wanted to give them “noble ends,” any one or all three could have played Skurge’s role and it would have been far more impactful.

      3. Odin is always a bastard. He is a trickster god, a war god, and a death god all in a single package. As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t play him as someone who deserves to die and knows it, you’ve missed the essence of the character. It’s one reason why I really didn’t like Anthony Hopkins’ version in the first two movies. (But also because his build is wrong for the role. Dream casting: Liam Neeson.)

        Gotta agree with the Mouse on Skurge. Maybe if he wasn’t Karl Urban, he’d have sucked. But he was Karl Urban.

  12. I recently rewatched this one on a flight to India (work trip) and man is it so fucking great. Agree with basically everything you say in this review Mouse, my only disagreement is that while the opening is fucking incredible, I think the Immigrant Song usage on the bridge fight at the end is EVEN MORE AWESOME. Thor flying down engulfed in lightning with that kickass guitar riff is just the goddam best thing ever.

  13. This was a fun movie. “I have to get off this planet” is one of my favorite lines in the MCU. I guess a complaint would be that the Sakaar scenes and Asgard scenes don’t mesh together well.

  14. “Thanos is about to prove me very, very wrong about being a lame villain.”

    So, Mouse, I take it you’ve eaten a lot of crow lately. How’s it taste?

  15. Ugh, I was never that impressed by X-2.

    Justice League was better then the first Avengers but comparing it to Age of Ultron is difficult. infinity War however is the best Crossover movie yet.

  16. Ragnarok really just comes across as a generic by the numbers MCU action flick with too many SNL sketches in between where MCU actors are just goofing off and not much else.

    Hulk has absolutely nothing to do in this movie after the titular gladiator fight with Thor and it’s a real missed opportunity that Taika didn’t do much of anything with the Hulk and Valkryie relationship aside from a stupid “I think I know you” joke. The movie can’t even be bothered with giving me an awesome Hulk vs giant wolf fight when it teases it so it couldn’t even please my stupid inner fanboy side.

    Hela is really just another Ronan and Makekeith to me. Oh, Kate Blanchett is having a ball in the role but she doesn’t have enough screen time to actually have much of an impact and she’s either giving lame exposition to Skurge or a jumping CGI muppet that kills everything. It also doesn’t help that aside from her giant wolf, all of her minions just look like Suicide Squad Enchantress minion rejects. It’s a shame because her backstory is the only thing that’s interesting about her but the movie never really goes into much detail about it and so it’s difficult for me to find any real investment in her as a character.

    Thor isn’t really Thor in this movie, he’s just Chris Hemsworth acting like Thor in an SNL sketch so it was difficult for me to even care what was happening with his character in the third act because he was too much of a joke throughout the rest of the movie and it was about as basic as “I can’t beat the bad guy, oh wait now I can”.

    I cannot beleive that this is the movie where Asgard, Thor’s home, gets destroyed and the movie doesn’t even bother having the audience spend any time there at all getting to know the inhabitants or the culture so I can’t even feel anything for Thor’s people and of course, the destruction has to end on some lame joke.

    The Warriors 3 getting axed so unceremoniously with no acknowledgement from Thor afterwards felt so insulting to me considering that they actually got a fair bit of screen time and character in Thor 1 along with Lady Sif who is NEVER mentioned and NEVER acknowledged and that’s just sloppy writing when you’re trying to build a universe. I don’t care if they weren’t the most popular, you just don’t do that.

    The colonialism metaphor doesn’t really come into play until the final act of the movie and I don’t think it is prevalent enough throughout the film to make me even buy that the movie didn’t just throw that in until the last third. The only parts where it comes into play kind of are the Asgard scenes but those go by so quick that anyone barely notices unless they like making their own headcanons actual canon in the movie which a lot of fans of this movie seem convinced of doing. We don’t even get the scene where Thor confronts his father’s sins, it’s just some pep talk about “Hey son, remember your subtitle.” Thank god Black Panther didn’t screw this up.

    The only vibe I got from the hype surrounding this movie was “Oh finally Thor made me laugh and I clapped when I saw Jack Kirby imagery.”

    Just felt like a complete waste of Thor and his universe despite the general outline of the plot being exceptional for a Thor movie.

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