I caught Thor Ragnarok over the weekend at a theater that wouldn’t let me bring booze into the theater. Let’s start there. What is this, the inquisition? You can’t stop me. Next time I’ll just be prepared and bring a flask. Unless the 90 pound 18 year old taking my ticket is a black belt in Judo and has psychic powers, the security at the local AMC isn’t exactly equipped to stop me from drinking in the movie theater.
Which is a shame, because Thor: Ragnarok would pair really well with drinking. It’s a very fun movie. From the opening sequence it’s easy to tell this is a huge departure from the LotR-lite, boring, slow, melodramatic route they’ve been going with the Thor movies previously. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although, I feel I need to disclose that I used to listen to Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song on repeat in 10 hour bursts as a teenager, it gives me chills to this day, and if it was in a pudding commercial I’d probably like that, too.
The rough overview of the plot is this: Thor has been dreaming that Ragnarok will come to Asgard, so he’s been on a journey to stop it. He returns to Asgard, thinking he’s done just that, only to find that the 9 realms under Asgard’s rule are in disarray. One thing leads to another, and Thor’s evil sister who he’s never heard of returns from exile to take over the… country? What would you call Asgard? Kingdom? Let’s go with Kingdom. In true comic book fashion, she beats the shit out of him to show what a badass she is and so he can fight her later in the climax. He ends up a slave on a weird, junkyard Mad Max meets Willy Wonka planet and has to fight for his freedom.
Here’s what I liked about the movie. It’s really funny. From the first moment of the first scene, it’s quite hilarious. It’s pretty much a straight-up comedy. Who knew Chris Hemsworth was capable of that kind of comedic timing and delivery? In addition to the humor, the visuals are awesome, and, of course, the Immigrant Song scored battles are epic. The movie gives enhanced screentime to Idris Elba’s Heimdall — but not too much — and Thor’s other space-faring compatriots, Loki, Hulk and Valkyrie, giving the Thor movie crew ensemble some texture and depth.
Here’s what I didn’t like about the movie. At times it felt like it was trying too hard. Like some producer said “There’s no joke this minute, cram something in there,” and some poor writer said “But there doesn’t need to be a joke every minute,” and then he got fired or eaten by a big dog or something. While Chris Hemsworth brought his comedy A-game to this movie, not every actor could keep up. Mark Ruffalo didn’t do *bad* exactly, but his comedic performance felt a little phoned in. He is solely at the center of probably the funniest thing that happens in the movie though, so I have to give it to him.
The plot is a little meandering. From the previews I expected this movie to be 20% Asgard and 80% escape from Sakaar, like Escape for LA or Soldier or… pretty much any other Kurt Russell movie. Actually, it’s more like 5% Muspelheim, 10% Earth, 40% Sakaar, 35% Asgard, 10% space. The Earth scenes were the roughest. The whole sequence with Dr. Strange was… kind of a funny bit, but it felt out of place with the vibe of the rest of the movie, and was somehow too quick to be meaningful and too long to be pithy. The scenes with Anthony Hopkins’ Odin were a little hard to get through, too. That whole sequence seemed like they needed to get Thor from point A to point B and they wanted to do it as fast as possible… but it wasn’t fast. So the emotion of it all was rushed, and the execution was slow.
Once we actually get to Sakaar, I was disappointed that the sequence wasn’t long enough. I thought Thor would have a few more fights. What does happen is incredibly satisfying, I just thought there’d be a *tad* more. When we finally get back to Asgard, the finishing sequence is maybe one of the best climactic battle sequences in a Marvel film to date. It’s epic, well-shot, funny, has high stakes and has permanent repercussions for the franchise. By the end of the movie, Thor’s ‘Revengers’ squad is pretty much full of Asgardian badasses.
I realize I wrote a lot more criticism than what I liked, but I actually really liked this movie. It’s just much easier to express what’s good about this movie — it’s funny as hell, super fun, fresh, visually great, with a cool ensemble cast and Immigrant Song — than what isn’t. I had a blast, strongly recommend it to you. Hopefully *your* AMC isn’t full of pimply little narcs and you can drink in the theater. B+.