Admittedly I am a movie snob when it comes to tent pole or comic book films. I think they are a waste of resources and time. So much so that I stopped watching them years ago. I have not seen any of the Marvel Avengers or the latest X-Men films. Just cannot bear them. Then the Logan film came along and melted a little corner of my ice heart. The door was open a sliver and the Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, What We Do in the Shadows) is doing his best to burst it wide open.
Now, I am not going to say that Thor: Ragnarok is the best thing since sliced bread or anything (the 93% on Rotten Tomatoes is a bit high), but it is an enjoyable comic book film. Why? You ask. Well there are several reasons. The first and best is that Waititi and his team of screenwriters have taken the rather wooden Thor character towards a more comedic slant. And the world is a better place for it. An exaggeration, but I do so to make a point.
The threat of Ragnarok has been passed on amidst the Asgardians. Now it seems like the time has come to really worry. It warned of the destruction of Asgard. Thor (Chris Hemsworth – Avengers Assemble, The Huntsman: Winter’s War) is the god looked upon to stop it but he is trapped on the other side of the universe and forced to engage in a fight to the death against Hulk (Mark Ruffalo – Shutter Island, Spotlight). But the most immediate danger is the return of Thor and Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston – Thor, The Night Manager) previously imprisoned sister (that they did not know about), Hela (Cate Blanchett – Carol, How to Train Your Dragon 2), who is also the Goddess of Death.
Waititi has taken a rather tired offshoot of the Avengers films and reformatted it into a film that is clever, witty, soundly paced, filled with snappy dialogue, and a sight for your eyes with its fine visuals. That along with the fact that he has paired Thor up with a trio of unlikely pals like Hulk, Loki and a Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson – from television’s Westworld) really takes the load off the well-formed shoulders of the guy the with hammer.
Nothing about this comic book superhero film is typical and once again that is pure Waititi. Everything is a little unexpected and off center. In a good way. Making it worth a watch is that it is not wacky for the sake of being wacky. There is a method to Waititi’s madness. We laugh in all the right places, but when it is time for some action we are impressed by the kick buttedness and when a serious moment comes about we are truly listening and not just waiting for the next joke.
The only downside of the film was that the characters of Hela and Heimdall (Idris Elba – The Mountain Between Us, The Dark Tower) seem almost like they were tacked on. While Blanchett does get enough screen time and she seems more than willing to chew up scenery as the requisite baddie there is very little development going on here. That despite the fact that there seems to be plenty of material there for a rich backstory. Elba gets precious little to do. Which is a shame because he is a natural for this film genre.