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Full disclosure before we begin. I’m not a huge Thor fan from either the comics or the films. It’s just not a character that has ever spoken to me, in much the same way as Wonder Woman never has. If there’s a medieval feel, I’m usually not the proper audience for it. Game of Thrones is one of the only exceptions to that rule.
That said, Chris Hemsworth has always been good in the role, and I’ve enjoyed all of the Thor appearances in both his movies and the larger Marvel universe. But, when a new Thor film is on the horizon, it doesn’t make me stand up and cheer.
Or should I say, it didn’t until now, because after watching Thor: Ragnarok, I now will be geeked for any future installments. Yes, this movie is terrific. It may be the funniest superhero movie of all-time, with only Deadpool potentially above it. It’s hilarious, it’s clever, it’s adult oriented, and it’s fast paced. It’s more interested in making you laugh than wowing you with its action, and the result is hugely refreshing.
While 130 minutes can be an albatross for certain projects, this ain’t one of them. I loved this movie, because it was unique in approach and precise in its objectives. If you remember how you felt walking out of Guardians of the Galaxy, expect a similar feeling as you exit Thor: Ragnarok.
When it was time to hire a director for the movie, Marvel did something very unlike itself, and thought WAY out of the box. Taika Waititi isn’t a name you’re likely familiar with, unless you saw What We Do in the Shadows, but he’s someone to pay attention to going forward. The New Zealander is so good at a unique style of humor, and his brand of comedy plays well with Jemaine Clement (who he worked with on Shadows) and fellow Flight of the Conchord Bret McKenzie. His voice sounds remarkably like Rhys Darby, so much so that I thought it WAS Darby when I first heard his Ragnarok character, Korg.
This is his first major feature film, and it’s an unquestioned “A” effort. From the second the movie starts, you can tell it’s a little different. The plot isn’t particularly deep, but that plays to the film’s strengths. You’re never confused watching it, leaving you no choice but to listen for the jokes and watch for the various gags waiting to smack you in the face. They’re plentiful, as the story revolves around a prophecy that says a demon named Ragnarok will destroy Thor’s homeland, Asgard.
From there, it becomes a family story, as Thor, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Odin (Anthony Hopkins), and long lost sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) deal with various issues you can discover for yourself when you see the film. Blanchett is phenomenal, as usual, and the cast as a whole is strong. Also a standout is Tessa Thompson, who plays Valkyrie. But, the star of the movie? That would be the character Waititi himself voices, the rock gladiator with the softest voice on record.
It’s not hyperbole when I tell you Korg may be the greatest character ever to grace a Marvel Universe property. You can keep Groot and any of the Guardians of the Galaxy, as much as I like all of them, provided I get Korg. Virtually every sentence he speaks is tremendous, with some gut busting lines, and he’s an innocent creature with a kind heart. But my word is he funny. Also quite amusing is Mark Ruffalo, who brings a different level of antagonistic chemistry to his scenes with Hemsworth, which are the crux of the Avenger side of the movie. Hulk and Thor may be “friends from work,” but they’re always going to have some issues.
Jeff Goldblum, ruler of the planet Sakaar, is never not funny either. This film does villains so well, with Hela being the real evil of it all, and Goldblum being an enormous irritant ruling over underlings he tantalizes with hedonism and violence. He’s very good, just as Blanchett is, and giving us people to root against that we nonetheless want to see on screen is a trick a lot of blockbuster movies can’t pull off effectively.
Also, this may be the best Hemsworth and Hiddleston have been as a duo, with real emotion and humor behind the performances, and a good script that enables both Thor and Loki to showcase positive attributes. They’re brothers after all, and despite Loki’s constant trickery, he has a few legitimately uplifting moments. It gives me hope that the character has unseen depth that can play into Infinity War.
There’s another similarity to be found between Thor: Ragnarok and Wonder Woman. Not only are they movies centered around characters I’ve never been particularly high on, they’re also both fantastic movies. This is a supremely entertaining two-plus hours, and without going into any detail, stay through the credits. There are also some fun surprises you’ll encounter during the movie, which are just cherries on top of the Ragnarok sundae.
Waititi reportedly got the film through his sizzle reel to Marvel, which included Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” You’ll hear the tune multiple times in Thor: Ragnarok, and it’s a perfect choice for this film when it arrives. There’s something instantly likable and instantly energetic about it. Waititi nailed it with this movie. He has the tone right. He has the jokes right. He has the chemistry right. The CGI and visuals are outrageously good, and it’s just a powder keg of fun. Considering Taika based his version of Thor on Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China, he picked proper source material.
This is a different, more ebullient, more entertaining, far more charismatic Thor character, and you can tell Hemsworth, who himself has shown comedic chops in other films, enjoyed making this movie. It feels as if almost everyone on screen did, and that enjoyment diffuses right into the seats. You’re going to dig this one folks. It’s a complete blast. It gets an A from me, and is a top five all-time Marvel Universe film. I can’t wait to see it again. Get thyself to the theater to see this joint as soon as you can.
I’m @JMartOutkick. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me with thoughts and questions. All hail Korg! The world would be much better if we had more Korgs and less everything elses.