“Thor: Ragnarok” was originally planned to be released on July 27, 2017. (Courtesy of Disney)
“Thor: Ragnarok” is the seventeenth movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it is easily the most middle of the road and generic Marvel film of them all.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself stranded on an alien planet and forced to fight in a gladiator ring while a powerful villainess (Cate Blanchett) seizes control of Asgard. In an effort to escape the planet and return to Asgard, Thor must rely on old and new allies in order to make his escape and save his home.
As stated above, “Thor: Ragnarok” is middle of the road and generic Marvel. There is nothing standout, good or bad, about it. It is just a bright, colorful, superhero movie. It has all of the usual tropes done to the extreme, leaving very little room for the movie to have any sort of uniqueness.
The lack of uniqueness comes from the fact that it feels like “Thor: Ragnarok” is trying to be a “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie instead of another “Thor” movie. All of the stuff on the gladiator fighting planet feels like it could be a plot line from the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, the overly comedic tone is similar, and there is even the usage of older rock songs in the soundtrack, in this case Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.”
In terms of typical Marvel tropes, there are a lot present in this one. The writing is way more comedic, even in scenes where it should not be funny, the villain is very generic and lacks an interesting character or motivation, and the references to other Marvel properties that need to be included for no reason other than to remind the audience that those properties exist. Not only does “Thor: Ragnarok” use these tropes, they use them to some of the worst extents that there have been in these movies. Take the pointless references of other Marvel properties in this one. Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) shows up briefly at the beginning to help Thor in a five-minute sequence that could have easily been written around and left out.
Serious pacing issues plague “Thor: Ragnarok” from the get-go. The first act is dedicated to cramming in a bunch of plot details and tying off loose ends of characters and plot points set up from “Thor: The Dark World” in rapid succession. The second act is spent on the gladiator world with Thor while brief clips of Asgard are shown. This act is dedicated to the progression of the plot and characters, but all of the plot and character progression just happen at points that seem arbitrarily picked out by the screenwriter instead of in a manner that would help the movie flow better, and thus it feels rather slow. The third act is dedicated to Thor fighting to free Asgard, and it feels really rushed.
The tone of the movie is also a major issue. Ragnarok is the biggest and most dangerous disaster that Thor has had to face so far in the five movies he has been in, yet the movie plays like a comedy where every scene needs to end with a punchline, every character is the comedic relief, and even the serious moments lose their dramatic impact thanks to a slapstick comic relief moment.
If “Thor: Ragnarok” excels at anything, it is managing to dissipate the tension and drama of a scene almost immediately. The comedy is a big factor of this, but the giddiness of the studio and the predictability of the script are also big factors of this. Two of the most important scenes in the movie are in the trailers, which robs them of any impact, especially the build up to the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), because those who watched the trailer before they saw the movie will know what is coming. The predictability does this as well because the audience can tell what is going to happen way before it happens, and thus any tension or surprise from the scene where the expected thing happens loses anything it has going for it.
The best part of the movie by far is the cast, despite the lack of actual characters that exists in this film. Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are likable on screen as always and have good chemistry with one another. Blanchett, Idris Elba, Karl Urban and Anthony Hopkins are nice to have around and play their parts as best they can, as they always do. Tessa Thompson is a nice new addition to the cast and has good chemistry with everyone. While the character of Banner is given an ill-fitting, somewhat comedic, personality this time around, Ruffalo does a good job of playing it. The best part of the movie by far is Jeff Goldblum, who is entertaining to watch and seems to be having a blast with playing his eccentric character.
“Thor: Ragnarok” sits on the middle road when it comes to Marvel. It is not terrible, but it is not offering much other than a good cast and a wickedly entertaining Goldblum.
Final grade: C