WRITTEN BY ARSH VOHRA
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
‘Thor’ and ‘Thor: The Dark World’ are two unimportant films in Marvel’s cannon. Before ‘Ragnarok’, Thor was a hero that, frankly, few cared for. In the ensemble films, he was funny and still managed to have a godlike quality, but his standalones failed to walk this fine line. Filled with grey and blue tones, both these films were poor imitations of Greek tragedies in their best moments. Enter Taika Waititi. The director and voice actor for Korg who took the franchise, flipped it on its head, burned it and rebuilt it from scratch all within two hours and ten minutes.
‘Thor: Ragnarok’ changed the Thor we knew almost entirely. Thor loses his dad, his hair, Mjollnir, all of his friends within the first act, and by the third, he pretty much becomes a new character. Taika Waititi makes the conscious effort to differentiate this film from its predecessors. With a brand new colour palette of oranges and greens as well as a complete change in setting and costume, this film looks unique, not only with comparison to the Thor films, but with the MCU as a whole. Waititi lets the audience know that this film is different within the first five minutes. Instead of having a fight that opens the film that is of no real consequence to the plot, he opts to use a comedic gag where he is able to integrate world building while also having a fight that is of no real consequence.
This film is funny. Like actually, properly, genuinely funny. Not the PG12 Marvel humour that we’re all used to, but subtle and sarcastic comedy which is extremely rare in superhero films. This film also gives Thor a personality which he was severely lacking and completes Loki’s character arc which makes THAT scene in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ even more heartbreaking. Doctor Stange’s cameo in this film is great, in fact he is probably written better in the five minutes of screen time he has here than his entire solo movie.
The biggest win for this movie is that it feels like a film made by an esteemed filmmaker. Unlike most Marvel movies, this has a brilliant script, great structure, an amazing final fight sequence with high stakes and payoffs. Also, did I mention that it’s very very funny. There is a clear vision beyond just the action and plot; the time and energy spent on every joke and every shot highlights the brilliance of Waititi’s mind and displays his capability as a director. Finding a filmmaker’s movie in the Marvel cannon is not something which happens often, and this film is a prime example of it being done right.
There's more that this film does right, believe it or not. It embraces the weird comic book legacy with pride. Thor was a norse god written by a group of hippies in the 60’s so if you’ve read the comics, you can definitely see the use of vibrant colours and absolute madness which this film infuses into every scene, and that too with great class.
Some people - a minority - felt as if ‘Ragnarok’ got carried away in its comedy and didn’t give the emotional beats the importance they deserved. I wholeheartedly disagree; this film removes all the deadweight and focuses solely on the bare bones of the characters. By the end, I felt everything Waititi wanted me to feel owing to the fact that he had done it so masterfully. One criticism I agree with is that Hela, as a villain, was one dimensional and I really didn’t care for her. I understood her motivations but she didn’t secure emotional reactions from me. However, I am willing to overlook that because this masterclass of a film is a crazy rollercoaster ride at surface; but at its core, it tells a heartfelt story about home and the people who make it.