Friday, April 10, 2020

Review: "Thor: Ragnarok" Strikes an Odd, Pleasant Note

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 7 (of 2020) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This movie review was originally posted on Patreon.]

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Running time:  130 minutes (2 hours, 10 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material
DIRECTOR:  Taika Waititi
WRITERS: Eric Pearson and Christopher L. Yost and Craig Kyle (based on the comic book and characters created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby)
PRODUCERS:  Kevin Feige p.g.a
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Javier Aguirresarobe, ASC (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Zene Baker and Joel Negron
COMPOSER:  Mark Mothersbaugh
NAACP Image Award winner


Starring:  Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Taika Waititi (voice), and Clancy Brown (voice) with Stan Lee

Thor: Ragnarok is a 2017 superhero movie from Marvel Studios, directed by Taika Waititi.  It is the third film in Marvel's Thor film series, following Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013).  Thor is a Marvel Comics character that first appeared in the comic book, Journey into Mystery #83 (cover dated: August 1962).  Created by artist Jack Kirby and writers (and siblings) Stan Lee and Larry Leiber, Thor is based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name.  Thor: Ragnarok finds the Norse god of thunder a slave on an alien world while his home of Asgard is controlled by the goddess of death.

Thor: Ragnarok opens two years after the battle of Sokovia (as seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron).  Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is imprisoned by the fire demon, Surtur (voice of Clancy Brown), who reveals that Thor's father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), is no longer on the realm of Asgard.  Surtur explains that he himself will destroy the realm by uniting his crown with the “Eternal Flame” that burns in Odin's vault, thus initiating the prophesied end-times, “Ragnarök.”  Thor frees himself and defeats Surtur, and he takes Surtur's crown, believing that he has prevented Ragnarök.

The threats to Asgard have not ended.  Thor's estranged brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), is posing as Odin, but Thor and Loki eventually find Odin in Norway.  Odin explains to his sons that he is dying and that his death will free his firstborn child, Hela (Cate Blanchett), from a prison where he sealed her long ago.  When Hela is freed, Ragnarök is imminent.  But before Thor can stop Hela and save Asgard, he must escape from his own imprisonment, the garbage planet, Sakaar, where he is an enslaved gladiator.  And Thor's greatest opponent turns out to be an old friend.

Thor: Ragnarok plays out as one would expect.  Thor saves the day with a lot of help from friends old and new and from adversaries-turned-allies old and new.  What makes this film different and so very endearing is the work of director Taika Waititi, the New Zealand-born director whose films (such as 2014's What We Do in the Shadows) are known for the both the originality of execution and their offbeat sensibilities.  That that originality and sensibility show in Thor: Ragnarok's color palette, its costume designs, sets and art direction.  Some critics and fans have claimed that all Marvel Studios' films look alike, which is certainly not true.  In fact, no superhero movie looks like Thor: Ragnarok, and Mark Mothersbaugh's fantastic, glorious, ear-candy musical score is the finishing touch that makes Thor: Ragnarok stand out from any pack.

Waititi and his cast make the most of Eric Pearson and Christopher L. Yost and Craig Kyle's screenplay.  The pace and acting is lively, wry, spry, and witty, and, in fact, Thor: Ragnarok is, to date, the film that makes the best use of Chris Hemsworth's droll sense of humor.  The film is a bit soft in the middle, but its unique visual appearance keeps the film from going dry.

Some time ago, I read that Marvel Studios had been trying to find the right balance of superhero fantasy, action, and humor in the Thor films, but believed that they had not quite done so in the first two films.  The third time is the charm.  Thor: Ragnarok is the best film in the Thor series, and it is the kind of superhero film that will appeal to movie audiences that don't normally watch superhero movies.

8 of 10

Friday, February 21, 2020

2018 Black Reel Awards:  1 nomination: “Outstanding Supporting Actress, Motion Picture” (Tessa Thompson)

2018 Image Awards (NAACP):  1 winner: “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture” (Idris Elba); 1 nomination: “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” (Tessa Thompson)

The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for syndication rights and fees.


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