Thor: Ragnarok
Directed by: Taika Waititi
Written by: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Tom Hiddleston, Jeff Goldblum, Cate Blanchett

Review by Stephanie Cooke

Ever since the first trailer for Thor: Ragnarok was released, I’ve been on board with this third installment in the Thor franchise. I am not a fan of the previous two Thor movies. For me, Thor and Thor: The Dark World are easily among the most forgettable of the Marvel movies to date. Despite the fact that Chris Hemsworth is the perfect Thor, the films never managed to resonate with me and left me feeling indifferent.

The premise of Thor: Ragnarok is more or less directly in the title of the film. After scouring the galaxy for a source of the imbalance in the world, Thor warned of the impending Ragnarok and heads home. Upon his arrival in Asgard, he finds his home in disarray with Loki as ruler in the form of their father. Things only get more chaotic when the goddess of death, Hela shows up and demands her rightful place in Asgard. She casts both Thor and Loki into the beyond.

From there, Thor must find his way back to Asgard. He assembles his own team of misfit soldiers to face Hela head on and put a stop to Ragnarok.

With Ragnarok, Chris Hemsworth is given a chance to shine properly as Thor. Alongside a fantastic cast with a great script and a great director that turns the film into a fun adventure comedy. Thor Ragnarok loses its lacklustre female lead from the previous films (thank GOD… no pun intended) and goes in a different direction. Within the film, a joke is made that she broke up with him. That’s all they do in regards to addressing her absence which I’m honestly perfectly fine with.

Our female lead in Thor: Ragnarok is Tessa Thompson who plays Valkyrie (yesssssssss!!!!!!!!!!) and knocks it out of the park. Before I get to the rest of the cast though, I want to talk a bit more about Valkyrie within the film. There’s a couple of sort of problematic things circling the character. In particular, the regards to Thompson’s comment mentioning that the character of Valkyrie is bisexual.

The character within the comics is queer, and she mentioned that she wanted her interpretation of the character to be faithful to that. People noted that it’s not fair to say that when the movie itself doesn’t back that up. It doesn’t mean anything to the LGBQT community without actual representation, which is fair. Within the movie, I did get the impression during one scene that the character did have a relationship with a woman. It wasn’t explicitly stated and was just a feeling that I got. So, I guess there was a little case of queerbaiting a bit.

The other thing to address with the character of Valkyrie is that she’s the first WOC given this amount of screen time within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The character, while fantastic overall, is also a raging alcoholic. They sort of justify why Valkyrie would drink herself into oblivion but don’t really address the overall problematic nature of that beast.

I desperately want more of Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie within the MCU. I preemptively ship the HELL out of Gamora and Valkyrie.

The rest of the cast is flawless as well. Cate Blanchett as Hela, goddess of death is *chef’s kiss to the air* in so many ways. In her first scene on screen, I had a moment when I questioned my sexuality (like with Kate McKinnon in Ghostbusters). Her makeup, her costume, her EVERYTHING was fantastic. I was completely invested in her storyline as a villain. Alongside her was Skurge as played by Karl Urban who acted as Hela’s executioner and right-hand fella. It would’ve been easy to turn him into a mindless minion doing Hela’s bidding. He was very much his own character and was fascinating to watch on screen, even without a ton of screen time.

Jeff Goldblum plays the Grandmaster. He kind of just plays like, Space Jeff Goldblum? But it works, and I really enjoyed his performance and his characterization. His early interactions with Valkyrie with Ragnarok are so much fun that I almost wished for a little spinoff where Valkyrie and Grandmaster go on some little mini adventures.

There are other great performances within the film. Some of them would point out some plot points of the film. I think, for now, it’s best to leave them without much more than a THEY WERE GREAT.

It’s 2017, and we now have a TON of Marvel movies. It’s a beautiful time to be a geek. So how does Thor: Ragnarok stack up against some of those heavy hitters? Well, as mentioned, I am not a fan of the previous Thor movies… like, not even a little bit. However, Thor: Ragnarok feels like a bit of a team-up movie more along the lines of Captain America: Winter Soldier. Where Winter Soldier is definitely an action spy movie, Ragnarok is the equivalent that, as mentioned, falls into the comedy adventure realm and it is a lot of fun.

Taika Waititi breathed new life into the character of Thor for me. Ragnarok really painted him in a new light that made me appreciate him. Bringing Waititi onto this film was one of the best decisions that Marvel has made in a while. You can tell that everyone in the film had a lot of fun working together on the project. All of the actors just seem to be that much more charismatic on screen. Waititi brought out incredible performances from every one of them.

At the end of the day, Thor: Ragnarok is a movie about comic book characters. In a world post-Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight franchise, it’s sometimes easy to forget that they’re goofy characters with even goofier stories. There is a right way to tell those stories in a serious manner, but they can’t all be like that – it’s exhausting to watch. Thor: Ragnarok feels like the heart of a great comic book that doesn’t take itself too seriously but still tells an amazing story that you feel invested in.

Now POST-CREDITS STUFF…
First off, should you stay for the credits? Yes, yes you should. I won’t review what they were about, but there was two: a mid-credit sequence and one at the very end. They weren’t super revealing about the future of the MCU, but I enjoyed them.

Verdict:
Thor: Ragnarok is a more than worthy film to carry on the franchise. It’s easily and by far the best that the Thor films have offered to date. It’s a Must See in theatres and something that you’ll want to see over and over again.

Stephanie Cooke
scooke@hotmail.ca
Stephanie is a Toronto based writer and editor. She's a comic book fan, avid gamer, movie watcher, lover of music, and sarcasm. She is a purveyor of too many projects and has done work for Talking Comics, JoBlo.com, Agents of Geek, Word of the Nerd, C&G Magazine, Dork Shelf, and more. Her writing credits include "Home Sweet Huck" (Mark Millar's Millarworld Annual 2017), "Lungarella (Secret Loves of Geek Girls, 2016), "Behind Enemy Linens" (BLOCKED Anthology, 2017), "Home and Country" (Toronto Comics Anthology, 2017) and more to come. You can read more about her shenanigans over on her <a href="http://www.stephaniecooke.ca">personal web site</a>.

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