Thor: Ragnarok has been out for weeks and I am only just NOW going to talk about it?! Yep, I saw it this weekend – I very rarely go see a movie on its opening weekend, remember? I mention that in almost all my movie reviews…
I was worried when I read the initial stories about this third Thor movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The press described it as a Hope & Crosby-esque Road Movie with Hulk and Thor. As the premier weekend arrived, the movie’s humor was the focus.
I was leery. Humor has its place in the Marvel Universe (cinematic or otherwise): Spider-Man revels in it. Robert Downey Jr imbues his personality into the Iron Man franchise. Guardians of the Galaxy had lots of laugh-out-loud-moments. Two words: Deadpool. Okay, that’s only one word.
The Thor franchise is the weakest of all the MCU films, with the exception of the two Hulk movies. Perhaps the powers-that-be thought to shake up their weakest link. The more successful movies are peppered with humor (Guardians, Deadpool), perhaps piling on the snark can revive this branch of the franchise and give it a blockbuster that will stand with the first Iron Man, the first Captain America and the first Avengers movie.
Humor has its place. Unfortunately, not in Thor; at least not this kind of humor.
It is mostly man-child dialogue enjoyed mostly by men-children. Goofy Wacky Fun. There is some physical/slapstick moments in the movie (as in the scene with Doctor Strange), but it is appropriate (it fits the scene) and does not smack of Stoogania…
(Oh, to have seen more of Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston together. Only one long shot of the two splendid actors together. Someone needs to develop a vehicle for the two actors. Please!)
Anyway, let’s get back to more Goofy Wacky Fun …
Chris Hemsworth may be excellent in comedic roles … in the future it may be what he is best known for …
But Thor is not a comedic role. Having other characters around him being the focus of humor, perhaps, may have worked better. But not Thor. He doesn’t need to be funny – Jack Benny and Bob Newhart made their careers allowing others around them to be funny. Thor could be serious – and more in character – and still have scenes with many laughs.
Remember the first two Thor movies had their comic relief with Darcy Lewis and Dr. Erik Selvig. So it CAN be done. I only wish in the prior movies it were done better.
Hiddleston’s Loki is ideal for this kind of humor – the character has shown it since his inception.
But not Thor. Seeing him shout “Oh my god” or “What the hell” or whine about his hair in the best frat-boy manner is out of character and takes us out of the immersion; reminding us we are watching a movie. A movie filled with Goofy Wacky Fun (hereinafter “GWF” for brevity’s sake).
And it seemed everyone had to have their day in the snarky sun, whether it fit the character or not.
Not even Cate Blanchette as Hela the Goddess of Death was immune. Her GWF (snarky comments) aimed at Karl Urban’s Executioner were also out of character.
Even Anthony Hopkins gets in the act – although only when he is Loki in disguise – otherwise his character is the typical (read: unknowable and unpredictable) All-Father.
It worked better with Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner – the befuddled scientist lost inside the Hulk for over two years. Banner is normally played as the pitiable victim or the super-scientist. The whiny wise-cracker here fit, considering his situation.
However, the dialogue between Hulk and Thor is mostly infantile posturing. Eight-year-olds on a playground. GWF.
The eye-rollingly bad acting of Jeff Goldblum as the secondary bad guy the Grandmaster is a waste of celluloid, but fits in perfectly with Director’s Taika Waititi’s vision of GWF.
While we are on this subject, the ending clip after the credits is not worth the wait. The middle clip after the cast credits apparently sets up Thor’s appearance in Infinity War.
The only character immune from GWF Syndrome was Heimdall, excellently and nobly played again by Idris Elba.
In sum, the GWF turned Thor into Downey’s Iron Man or Deadpool. We don’t need another snarky quipster.
It was humor at the expense of characterization and continuity; and that’s not worth the cost.
Plus, much of it wasn’t all that funny…
But I LIKED the movie! The good points vastly out-weigh the bad:
Tessa Thompson shines as Valkyrie. She will make a fine addition to the Marvel Universe – and note that except for Nighthawk we have most of the late-1970s Defenders in this movie!
The battle scenes are inspiring, helped by Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” as a soundtrack – a canny but good choice with its lyrics based on Norse and Tolkien (itself the son-of-Norse) mythology. (as with Wonder Woman‘s No-Man’s Land battle, the initial battle with Surtur is more effective and exciting than the big battle in the conclusion). Obvious, but it works. By the second airing, though, the song loses some of its thunder. Pun intended.
Cate Blanchette’s Hela was as evil as she was incredibly sexy!
And wasn’t it fun watching her and Karl Urban together? Two Lord of the Rings vets together again for the very first time…
Heroes acted heroically. Characters redeem themselves and we cheer. Characters and situations irrevocably change and we mourn. That’s all I can say without spoilers.
Some basic questions:
Why was the identity of the “Champion” so coyly secretive when the audience knew exactly who it was since the first preview aired?
Will we ever see Asgard (or at least Asgardians) again? It is hinted that after Infinity War II our original superheroes and the actors portraying them will be gone. Will Valkyrie take over Thor’s role in future films?
Another good-but-not-great Thor movie. A pity … the god of thunder still deserves better.
Copyright 2017 Michael Curry
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