Fans and reviewers gave Thor: Ragnarok the overwhelming thumbs up. Glowing reviews and near perfect scores abound. It grossed over a $122 million in its opening weekend. When the movies perfect score plummeted from 100% to 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, after someone gave the film a bad review, Screen Geek ran a story on it. Since when has a bad review become a news story?
I must have missed something. I know I was in the right cinema and I saw the same film as everyone else. Unless I’d dropped into a parallel universe. Was I in a bad mood that day? Or was it that I’ve never really been a fan of Chris Hemsworth’s acting? Or was there something more that made the God of Thunder fizzle?
Thor: Ragnarok is a CG laden, comedic gladiator film. It’s full of self-aware punchlines and gags heaped with self-referential comedy. The great plot is Thor losing his hammer and having to overcome his self-doubt and to use only his electrical lightening powers to save the day. The characters are rushing back to Asgard, Thor’s home town where the final show down occurs between Thor, his evil sister Hela and a great big fiery beast. It’s a place that exists solely for the purpose of ending up in a massive fireball. It’s a simple goal driven by an equally simple character. Of course Thor: Ragnarok is funny and full of puns, because relying on CG alone and attempting anything other than comedy, would expose the film’s great big underlying hole. Thor: Ragnorak is vacuous and levity goes a long way in keeping a story from falling apart.
Perhaps I’m taking it all a bit too seriously.
Chris Hemsworth’s character is both Mr. Charisma and Mr Machismo. Audiences swoon at the boyish grins combined with the muscle and rugged looks, made even more rugged by Thor chopping off his long golden locks. Hemsworth is no doubt a smart guy in real life, but his shit eating grins that were so irritating in movies such as the Snow White and the Huntsman, reappear in Thor: Ragnarok and they’re just as irritating.
And much like Snow White and the Huntsman (where Hemsworth was eclipsed by his fellow cast members Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt), he risks the same fate again in Thor: Ragnarok, always standing with one foot in the shadows of his supporting cast, self-conscious and self deprecating. Or perhaps I’m meant to see him as a humble hero.
Enter the stars of the show…
Cate Blanchett as Hela the malevolent Goddess. Blanchett looked like she had a blast playing the high camp villainess.
Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), is the movies breakout star. Her character is terribly bored by all of it and she wants to get drunk in peace but ends up the reluctant hero of the pack.
Over the top game-master, Jeff Goldman, emboldens the film’s cosmic camp weirdness. Its entertaining although reminiscent of the high-camp game master from the Hunger Games.
The Hulk is meant to be Thor’s dumb sidekick, but his inner turmoil with Eric Banner competing for the same body and identity, actually makes him a more interesting potential protagonist.
The relationship between Thor and the self serving Loki is perhaps the most challenging. Thor accepts his brothers duplicitous nature – it’s the difficult realization that blood is not always thicker than water and that you can’t change people by loving them.
Kiwi-bro Korg, a big guy made of rock, ultimately gets the most laughs of all.
At the end of the movie, when Thor acquires his rightful thrown, he’s still self-deprecating and hesitant. Perhaps I should appreciate Thor as a wholesome, down to earth guy rather than a semi-capable heroic bit of fluff.
Director Waititi’s signature goofiness had me laughing along with the audience. I enjoyed the self deprecating humor in Hunt for the Wilderpeople however that’s an entirely different movie. Thor:Ragnarok’s jokes left me with a sense of trepidation. A constant nagging question playing at the back of my mind, What am I actually laughing at here? Granted flying spaceships through a devils anus was very funny at first. But the same joke repeated a dozen times over, stops being funny.
Or perhaps butt jokes just aren’t my thing. And banter for the sake of banter, without adding anything to the story, just isn’t that interesting.
It wasn’t until after I’d seen the film that I learned that 80% of the dialogue was improvised. Credit goes to the actors for their spontaneity. And it must be challenging for a director to keep a story from veering off the path with that much improvisation. But that’s how I felt watching Thor:Ragnarok, at any given moment it was going to run off the rails into oblivion.
Ultimately Thor: Ragnarok is a slick and entertaining collection of spectacular images and action. It implants visions of demonic antlers, a stylish city built on rubbish (some place called Sakaar), a big monstrous fiery creature, and a Valkyries swagger that I wish I could emulate. I left the cinema entertained but with the desire for a stiff drink and the need to scrub my mind and soul by watching a film with a little more substance.
Or perhaps I wasn’t in the right mood that day.