Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett
Written by: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, Christopher L. Yost
Directed by: Taika Waititi
How good is this movie?
As a movie in its own right, Thor: Ragnarok is a lot of fun: a brightly-coloured retro-sci-fi classic-rock-fueled action-adventure. As a sequel, it is definitely a departure from its predecessors, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The dramatic arcs have arguably played themselves out, and it’s time to take a lighter tone with the story. The Thor-Loki family melodrama isn’t really resolved in a satisfying way, but “resolution” in this situation may be neither possible nor dramatically desirable. A fair amount of the movie sees them playing off each other as reluctant allies, which was always the most enjoyable side of their relationship. A more unfortunate departure is Thor’s loss of many of his most loveable attributes, notably his long blond tresses, his hammer, and his Scoobies. The disappearance of all the female characters is a source of particular disappointment for me and makes this the first Thor film that doesn’t pass the Bechdel test. It also means that scientists play no role in saving the day, with even Bruce portrayed as mostly useless outside of Hulk form. On the plus side, Cate Blanchett as Hela is one of the best Marvel villains yet, and Tessa Thompson’s Scrapper 142 is a fun and engaging new character. The film’s other major departure is its stubbornly comical tone. For the most part, once you get into it, the humour is genuinely funny and entertaining. But it can occasionally be tiresome, slow the story down, or get pushed a little too far. I’m okay with Thor being the butt of jokes, though I could have done with fewer of them. I also appreciate that Loki finally comes in for his fair share of ridicule. But the film fails at the delicate balance between comedy and drama that other Marvel movies manage so well. In trying to be more like Guardians of the Galaxy, it misses out on the raw emotionalism that made the first two films so oddly compelling. I was solidly entertained by it, but the only reason I had any emotional investment in the characters was because I already knew them from earlier movies.
How ace is this movie?
Basically, there’s no sex or romance in this movie. We’re told in passing that Thor and Jane have broken up, but he doesn’t treat that as a licence to hit on every pretty girl he meets. Instead, romance simply disappears from his story. Loki, meanwhile, continues to show no interest in sex or romance.
As for their relationship with each other, they both seem to have moved on from their earlier angst. Thor still thinks of Loki as his brother, but he’s also accepted the fact that his brother is a lying little scum. While he may be nostalgic for their lost friendship, he’s mostly over it. Loki, for his part, no longer seems set on disowning his family. When Asgard is threatened, he helps Thor to defend it, and when Odin tells him he loves him, he looks like he might actually believe it! Their ambivalent brotherhood is also contrasted favourably with the blood relationship between Thor and Hela, who proves a far greater threat to Asgard than Loki ever was. In the end, both brothers choose the adoptive relationship over the biological relationship. Even if the adoptive relationship is far from perfect.
2.5 Stars; 3 Aces