The posters and trailers for Thor: Ragnarok promised one thing completely different — a film that’s slightly extra psychedelic than your typical Marvel movie, slightly extra retro, whereas taking itself quite a bit much less significantly.
Ragnarok principally delivers on that promise. The movie, which formally opens tomorrow within the U.S., is directed by Taika Waititi, finest identified for the comedies What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. It appears to be like just like the studio allowed him to play to his strengths right here, creating what may be the funniest Marvel film but.
The story picks up after the occasions of Thor: The Darkish World and Avengers: Age of Ultron, with the titular Norse god/superhero off on one other journey. Again in Asgard, his brother Loki has assumed the throne by impersonating their father Odin. Quickly, nonetheless, each Thor and Loki find yourself on the planet Sakaar, residence to an interstellar gladiator ring, whereas Asgard comes underneath siege from Hela, goddess of dying.
In different phrases, that is very a lot an exploration of the cosmic facet of the Marvel Universe. And whereas earlier Thor movies have been fairly drab-looking (significantly disappointing given the loopy great thing about the supply materials), Waititi actually embraces that reality — much more than Guardians of the Galaxy, Ragnarok is full of creatively designed aliens, alien costumes and alien expertise.
The aesthetic seems like a mixture of Jack Kirby and glam rock, with vivid, colourful photos that would completely be painted on the facet of a van (in a great way). The film’s additionally assured sufficient to let these designs get kinda goofy, and to let the characters acknowledge the goofiness.
Ragnarok additionally overcomes one of many greatest weaknesses of previous Marvel movies — their lack of memorable villains. Although I loved Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, the one actual exception to date has been Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, and he’s joined right here by Cate Blanchett, who’s clearly having blast as she preens in Hela’s modern black costume and hisses strains like, “I’m the goddess of dying!”
Jeff Goldblum, in the meantime, ostensibly performs the Grandmaster of Sakaar, however he’s actually simply giving us a villainous model of himself, in area — and who can resist Goldblum being Goldblum? Chris Hemsworth will get a haircut and brings out Thor’s humorous facet, whereas Mark Ruffalo reveals up as a extra articulate (however nonetheless enjoyably indignant) model of the Hulk.
My favourite character, nonetheless, is definitely performed by Waititi himself — he gives the voice of Korg, a rock-based alien gladiator who reliably turns up at odd moments to supply extremely well mannered commentary.
So Ragnarok is well the most effective Thor film, and the primary entry within the sequence that may stand with the most effective of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
However that doesn’t imply it completely breaks free from the Marvel components. For one factor, whereas Ragnarok doesn’t waste a lot time establishing different Marvel motion pictures, it nonetheless feels very very like a single chapter in an ongoing story, fairly than an entire expertise in and of itself.
For an additional, when the motion is performed for laughs (as it’s within the preliminary confrontation between Thor and the Hulk), it may be each satisfying and humorous. The extra straight-faced sequences, nonetheless, really feel weightless and forgettable, leaving me impatient for the one-liners to start out once more.
Nonetheless, I’m nitpicking right here. Ragnarok is a welcome signal that Marvel can snort at itself, and that the universe has gotten sufficiently big to make room for brighter colours, weirder designs and higher jokes.