For the first twenty-thirty minutes of watching Thor: Ragnarok, I strongly feared I was about to repeat the Guardians of the Galaxy experience, ie see a comedic action/adventure/superhero film that most critics/audiences like but which Mr. Contrarian here would absolutely hate.
And it was a terrible sinking feeling, because I really enjoyed director Taika Waititi’s What We Do In The Shadows and was hopeful his comedic skills would suit the Marvel Universe films.
But those opening minutes were a freaking chore to watch, first with a confrontation between Thor and Surtur, who is presented as considerably less powerful than those familiar with Thor and his mythology would think, followed by a semi-amusing (but which went on too long) cameo by another prominent actor, to an incredibly unfunny Dr. Strange cameo (I recall a video clip released shortly before the movie was released hyped up the great “chemistry” between Benedict Cumberbatch as Strange and Chris Hemsworth as Thor. There may be chemistry -though I feel this is arguable- but the whole encounter, IMHO, was dull reflected with the groan worthy line “not tea”.), I felt my fingers reaching for the remote, to shut this whole thing down before more permanent damage is done.
And then, after most of this (IMHO!) boring/unnecessary stuff is dealt with, the movie proper actually began.
Thor and Loki meet Odin and then face the movie’s “big bad”, Hela (Cate Blanchett… merely OK in the role but that is more related to the fact that the script doesn’t give her much more to do than be evil) and things finally get off the ground and the movie starts to rock n’ roll.
Thor: Ragnarok may be the third Thor film but it eschews the past Thor films and instead tries hard to be a thematic twin to the 1980 film Flash Gordon. Don’t believe me? Check out this trailer…
If you’ve seen Flash Gordon, you probably know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, this trailer might give you some idea (and compare it with the trailer for Thor: Ragnarok below).
Thor: Ragnarok, like Flash Gordon, presents bright and very wild sci-fi worlds and at times the goofy encounters the hero has with the various wild creatures all while keeping his chin up despite the long odds against him.
There is the appearance of yet another very big superhero in this movie whose role, I strongly suspect, was meant to be a surprise but that didn’t happen (the trailer below shows who I’m talking about, in case you don’t know). That character’s appearance adds to the overall fun of the film as does Jeff Goldblum’s delightfully bizarre turn as the Grandmaster, Tom Hiddleston’s wonderful return as Loki (he just gets better and better in the role!), and Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie.
But a special mention should be made to Karl Urban as Skurge. His role is relatively minor but his character has the best story arc within the movie, from big mouth fool to unwilling ally in evil to… I won’t give it away, but with little actual dialogue and plenty of acting with his eyes and body posture Mr. Urban gives viewers a sense of a man in great conflict. Very much liked his role.
In sum, if you decide to see this film and you’re just about to shut it off after the first twenty or so minutes, stick around. The good stuff comes after the bad.