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Movie Review: Thor Ragnarok

I finally had the time to watch Thor: Ragnarok.  Short version: it’s a crazy, fast-paced, often ADHD, humorous, adventure.  Go see it for yourself.

Long version: the movie is funny, the action scenes are over the top and Cate Blanchet is a fantastic villain.  The interactions between Thor and Loki are witty and charming and there’s even a couple of moments of endearing emotion, as you sense they are two brothers who have gone their (very) separate ways but still care for one another (even as they try to kill one another).

The constant humor is great, though I wonder how well it will hold up over time.  Thor, normally the straight man, is making witty quips and throwing out cheesy one-liners almost constantly.  At times, it feels like a series of 80’s one-liners tied together with a bunch of action scenes.  Still, the jokes are funny and the situations are dark enough that without this level of humor, it would be a pretty depressing movie.

There are no major plot twists (or at least, nothing that’s not hinted at from the beginning).  This is a movie about Thor beating down those who get in his path (and occasionally being electrocuted, I mean, what’s up with that, he’s the God of Thunder, how is electricity his weakness?).   It has something of a Blues Brother vibe, “We’re putting the band back together!”  But that campy humor works… because the situations are so ridiculous and desperate that sometimes unleashing a Hulk on your home planet is preferable to the alternative.

It’s not a movie without flaws.   The director definitely went with humor as a way to diffuse the very dark overall plot line.  That’s fine, but I do think they could have spent a bit more time exploring the sacrifices and efforts of all the non-Thor Asgardians.  They had some terrific actors like Idris Elba who were basically in cameo roles.  The plot was fairly predictable, the villain(ess) was bad, even charmingly so, much like Loki, but without as much background or motivation.

I really enjoyed the movie, I may go see it again, but  I didn’t love the movie, not the way I was hoping.  There were no deeper themes, other than the occasional bit about family.  This was an action movie, first and foremost.  Which is fine, but it left me wanting just that little bit more.

Thor: Dark World Review

I’ll preface this by commenting that I grew up on action and even a few comic book movies… but I never read comic books. So while I’m sure there are some diehard comic book fans who know far more about Thor than me, well, that’s fine. I’m reviewing this as a movie, and also as part of the series of movies that Marvel has done.

Disclaimer aside, I really enjoyed Thor: The Dark World. It was fun, exciting and adventurous. Better yet, the previews, for once, didn’t give the whole movie away. The movie had an irreverent sense of humor, epic scope and felt almost more like space opera than a comic book movie. Which is good, because I’m awful sick of the ‘dark gritty’ feel I’ve gotten from some comic book movies of late (Batman and Superman, I’m looking at you).

I’ll do a quick rundown of things I liked first, and I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers. First off, the characters. We got to see a different side of Thor, Loki, and the ‘mere’ mortals who run around in their circles. We got to see Thor planning and thinking, rather than just smashing. We saw Loki and some of his other motivations… and just how twisted his brain can be. There was some character development for Jane Foster, we got to see the long term effects of Loki’s mind control of Doctor Selvig, and we even got to see the indomitable Odin affected by events.

As far as the plot, things worked along at a pretty reasonable pace. There were plot twists, and changes and all manner of transitions. Thankfully, the movie didn’t try to overwhelm. I would say the best plot twists are those used in marketing. The trailers often suggested certain things to happen, yet they didn’t happen quite the way you might expect. In fact, some of the trailers set up false expectations which I really enjoyed during the movie, because when I got to those points, I had context and I realized that I didn’t know what was going to happen from the trailers. In fact, I had to figure things out during the movie.

As far as the actual effects and visuals… I found it interesting. I would not watch it in 3D if I saw it again (which I might). The 3D graphics were sort of meh. The overal visual effects were pretty good, though I would say that they made some parts of Asgard less grand in scale and other parts much bigger. I thought the overall looks of the movie were very impressive, and I never felt like the plot or any particular scenes happened just to show of some new special effect.

As far as the emotional impact, this movie managed to generate excitement, happiness, laughter, sadness, and even a sense of wonder. That’s pretty good for a superhero movie. In fact, they managed a couple scenes that were both beautiful and sad, which I found impressive. I’ve heard some complaints about the humor being buffonery of certain characters, but I’d disagree. In the context of how they presented the characters, it was at least internally consistant. Besides, they managed to produce the humor without undercutting the principle characteristics of those characters. The humor, the irreverence, kept this movie from feeling pretentious, and showed the audience that it wasn’t afraid to laugh at itself a little.

I continue to be impressed by how Marvel has both handled the individual movies of their series and also how they have continued to build the franchise. They’ve planned how these movies connect and yet managed to make them stand effectively alone. They’re big, blockbuster movies, but they’re fun, and they go into all of them with goals and plans of what they want to attain. It’s a refreshing change for movies, rather than how most sequels are “quick, milk the franchise for all the money we can!”