So what could draw me out of yet another lengthy blogging hiatus? How about the latest entry into the MCU? Last night, I headed to my local movie theater with an IMAX screen to see what the God of Thunder has gotten himself into this time. It turns out, a hilarious romp with truly apocalyptic stakes.
When we catch up to Thor, it turns out that he’s been on a cosmic quest to try and track down the various and sundry infinity stones. But he takes a detour to try to prevent Ragnarok, the prophesied cataclysm that will consume his beloved Asgard and destroy the world as he knows it. Along the way, he discovers that Loki replaced Odin at the end of Thor: Dark World (which is not a spoiler; I mean, come on. He had to figure it out eventually). The reunited sons of Odin encounter Hela, the goddess of death, and eventually, they get stranded on an alien planet where Thor is forced to fight in a gladiatorial arena against a very familiar face (it’s totally the Hulk). Thor has to escape his imprisonment, rally a number of unwilling allies, and return to Asgard to stop Hela before she can conquer the universe.
So far as I’ve been concerned, the Thor movies have been the weak links in the MCU (for the most part; the worst of the worst is still Iron Man 2, so far as I’m concerned). Thor was unimpressive (and really only interesting when it focused on Asgardian familial political strife). Dark World was just a mess that didn’t amount to much. In my opinion, that meant that Ragnarok had a very low bar to clear. And it did in spades.
Now, to be clear, this is a much more jokey and, in some ways, silly movie than the other Thor movies. I’ve seen a few people lament the fact that the stoic and reserved Thor is cracking one-liners. But I don’t think that’s much of an issue. For one thing, the best moments of the previous movies has been when Chris Hemsworth was able to let some humor sneak out of Thor’s dour countenance (think of the scene in the diner in the first movie). And for another, the MCU is clearly skewing in a much more comedic direction that the entirely too self-serious DCCU (more on that in two weeks, I guess).
Personally, I found the comedic nature of the movie to be a lot of fun. There were a lot of genuine laugh-out-loud moments in the movie and personally, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. And here’s the thing: in spite of the jokes and silliness, they were still able to create some seriously apocalyptic stakes in the story, which I think were resolved in a very creative and satisfying way.
That’s not to say that there weren’t some flies in the ointment. Cate Blanchett’s Hela was just okay as a villain, but that was mitigated by the fact that she wasn’t the true focus of what was going on. And I think they wanted Karl Urban’s Skurge to be more than he was. I was completely unimpressed with him and the character in this movie.
Overall, this is the best Thor movie to date. It’s a comedy, no doubt, but it works for me. It’ll be interesting to see where the character goes from here.