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Thor Ragnarok

Director: Taika Waititi

Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddlestone, Anthony Hopkins, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum, and Idris Elba.

Synopsis: It continues the Thor saga, with Thor returning to his home just as things go very wrong for Asgard.  

Before this film I would definitely say that the Thor series was the weakest link in the MCU. The first film is by far and away the worst film in the MCU. But the third entry in the series promised a major improvement, directed by acclaimed stylistic director Takia Waititi. Gone are the weak human characters that held the first two films down. In with several great new additions to the cast including Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, and Mark Ruffalo.  

Does Thor deliver?

I would certainly say that the film delivered on the promise of its roster. Waititi has managed to give us a fast-paced, high-adventure, laugh filled piece of escapist sci-fi/fantasy cinema. The film manages to stand out in the ever growing crowd that is the MCU. You might object to my assertion that a fast, laugh filled, escapist sci-fi film is unique in the MCU. After all, the two Guardians of the Galaxy films broadly fit into that description. What I would say to that is that Takia Waititi and James Gunn are quite different directors. James Gunn has the usual, American background for a major Hollywood director. However, Waititi, as a Maori New Zealander, has a different perspective.

Strengths

The film certainly has an indie sensibility which is what sets it apart in the MCU. An example of this is the character of Korg, played by Waititi himself. His character steals the show whenever he appears on screen and is probably the best thing about the film. The Polynesian accent and subtle humor which makes the character so great are things that wouldn’t be there without the director’s vision. Jeff Goldblum and Tessa Thompson also shine in their new roles, Jeff Goldblum is perfect at being his usual quirky self, and Tessa Thompson really makes her mark with a kind of female Han Solo type character.

This is definitely a character driven film, much of the humor comes from references to previous events with the characters (Loki being afraid of Hulk, Thor trying to calm Hulk down Black Widow style). This is a great strength of the MCU format, we know these characters and understand these in-jokes, much like a long running sitcom.  

Weaknesses

Marvel’s biggest weakness has always been villains and to some extent this is true again. Cate Blanchett is a great actress, and she does a good job at making an interesting villain. Her backstory is explored to an extent that we understand her more as a person. However I never really felt sympathetic for her, and I never felt threatened by her, and to make an interesting villain you really need to do one of those two. She’s better than most Marvel villains, it’s just that in this film, the bar for great characters is so high that no one can really blame her for not quite reaching it.

In conclusion…

Thor Ragnarok is another film which delivers on the promise of the MCU. It has a great mix of characters we know and fresh faces, and uses them all to entertaining effect. It is great within in the context of the MCU, and thanks to the indie-mentality of its director, it manages to stand out in the crowd of MCU films.

Pulse Rating: 7/10

-JM     

 

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