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Out of 10: 'Thor Ragnarok'

An MCU Review (Done as a Favour—Thor's a Friend from Work)

By Conor HuftonPublished 6 years ago 5 min read
Thor does not have a tiny Jeff Goldblum in his chest in the film proper. False advertising.

Thor lands on Sakaar after discovering his sister’s destructive intentions. Well, now you know that you don’t need to watch the film. Or even read the rest of this (Please do I’m desperate for attention).

It feels appropriate to mention characterisation first, since it was surprisingly vital. Chris Hemsworth has chance to experiment with comic timing and general range. Thor’s been brilliantly developed as more playful and generally emotive while embellishing on warrior’s spirit. He’s also more cunning and the theatricality he always had is more pronounced.

'I notice you've copied my beard' hash tag 'Infinity War' jokes—seriously though, he totally copied my beard.

All of us out there who've had haircuts from old men using dangerous futuristic weapons before fighting for our lives in an area who DIDN'T end up looking like this deserve our money back.

Tom Hiddleston's Loki also developed and his constant double-crossing is given better in-story justification. He’s in a more complex role unrestricted to pure villainy, so shows more range. He’s obviously not completely heroic, after this much time that’d be a contrived rewrite. The fact he isn’t makes his interactions more layered and entertaining.

He too is theatrical, nothing lo-ki about his choice of words.

I said this when I came out of the womb.

Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster is superbly cast. He brings believably natural humour to a powerful threat, with a sense of necessary showmanship. It’s a satisfyingly unique writing strategy to use an antagonist who's a hedonist with no noticeable fighting skill or physical power. There are several non-sentimentally human (Technically Sakaarian) moments where he’s amused by his employees' comments or visibly enjoying events. His presence constantly showcases brutality and Joviality with seamless transitioning. Joviality is sadly not the name of a god in the MCU, but any producers who may be reading should know: You still have time.

You will meet The Grandmaster in 5 seconds, prepare yourself. You are now meeting the Grandmaster (face it, you could see the picture already).

I can never meet the grandmaster, our wardrobes are embarrassingly similar.

Tessa Thompson, who I’ve never seen elsewhere, is a refreshing Valkyrie. Audiences can be endlessly thankful that some writers understand tragic supporting characters can have actual personality beyond emotionlessly grunting simple words and fighting without style. Oh wait, the Hulk’s in this, we still get that. Valkyrie’s a capable grief-stricken drunk with both ruthlessness and compassion and, while not explicitly comical, adds more implicit humour. It’s also unbelievable that she’s American, her accent is the best superpower of the film. Well, technically she’s got an Asgardian accent it’s hard to judge how well one can adapt those. No viewer, for example, would say, "My family are from Asgard and they sound nothing like that." Side note: if anyone knows someone who’d say that, please tell them I exist.

Here's one of many pleasing visuals from this film.

How I take the bins out

I just insulted Hulk, the technical term for that should be "A hulk smash." Sorry. Hulk's involvement in this film was crucial to its quality. The character development, shown by the implicit merging of his two personalities (Hulk speaking and having some notably Mark Ruffalo esque features) is un-distractingly compelling. The change is justified and un-alienating, he’s still a destructive force. One excitingly tense scene shows a more physical conflict between them. That scene also involves Scarlett Johansson’s voice, which is massively undervalued. It’s the only reason I can type this. Spent years as a green monster before hearing it. My hobby is editing Scarlett Johansson voice clips together and then playing them as conversation responses while miming along. I never get the chance to put that under ‘interest’ in online profiles though. One time I used that technique on a Disney producer and they offered me a role in the Jungle Book remake. I’ve been distracted. Allow me to collect myself. Sun’s going down… sun’s going down, RIGHT.

In other scenes Ruffalo successfully avoids melodrama while behaving understandably neurotically and confused, resulting in brilliant dialogue driven energy. The effects of Hulk on him are genuinely convincing and un-invasive to the story. His subdued rage is cleverly conveyed and he has sense of comic and dramatic timing- well, just timing.

Even in Hulk form he's going grey- no wonder he's permanently angry

Cate Blanchett’s an extremely capable villain, Karl Urban, shows versatility as a conflicted accompanist and Anthony Hopkins is unsurprisingly effective as Odin. Idris Elba leads an immersive subplot. Director Taika Waititi superbly voices Korg, friendly humorous eccentrics with battle skill will never cease to entertain me. The fact the majority of these characters have fulfilling interactions is seriously rewarding. Cameos from other MCU characters such as Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr Strange and previously implied Black Widow are used as engaging world building devices.

Hela showing serious power catching the Mjolnir. Even MC hammer can't touch this (forced).

The film’s humour is effortlessly plentiful and necessary. It also never undermines the sense of danger. The fight scenes are vibrantly inventive. The film’s visual style is individual and varied. A battle sequence near the end embellishes the engrossing nature of combat, visual splendour and appropriate music choices to make an incredible joy inducing sequence. Another near-end scene shows an satisfying subversion of predictably clichéd plot point that was actually well foreshadowed. Another subtle achievement is the film has a strong story that involves no explicit romance. The solid performances, character motivations, subplots, genre balancing, textured settings and overall style create a surprise triumph of a film.

Now for the Rating

'Hey man, I'm gonna put a picture of Korg into a much later part of this piece because I forgot to earlier and also add a caption badly paraphrasing his lines, wanna come?' I literally read it aloud in his voice. You did aswell right? no? ah me neither then.

This one is the first non 9 of the group: But it does get an 8.5. While Cate Blanchett’s performance was flawless, her character felt unfinished. The best villains have a sense of benevolence, dark humour, theatrics a sympathetic backstory or gradual loss of morals/stability. While not all are necessary, barely any were explored with Hela. Her backstory reveals she was naturally evil before her downfall, which slightly undervalues its relevance. A more frequent sense of dark humour would have been welcome and actually enhanced the impetus of her power. She also wasn’t given a true opportunity to emote entertainingly, something Cate all shall love me and despair Blanchett (her passport must be HUGE) has a genuine talent for. There are some missed creative opportunities to expand on dormant traits so she almost felt two dimensional.

This being said, her fighting was enjoyably stylised and she was a credible threat from her first appearance.

Additionally an early arena battle begins strongly but becomes unnecessarily long and vaguely repetitive. Also there is one brief instance of manufactured sentimentality where Loki sadly asks "Do you really think so low of me?" It feels like an ineffective attempt to force sympathy. Given Loki’s actions before this point… HOW CAN THIS BE IN ANY WAY A SURPRISE TO HIM. In Thor’s position I’d answer "well, yes, you bellend, you’re clearly aware of it."

This took longer than I hoped to publish. Thor himself made using the laptop challenging:


About the Creator

Conor Hufton

getting better at this writing thing (aka slowly learning the alphabet, learnt how to use pen). Spanning critical writing, fantasy, parody and sci-fi (ruining all of them in the process).

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