One might think by now the whole “superhero” takeover in Hollywood is getting old. I mean, we are at an overload level between what Marvel is doing versus what DC has been doing recently. But, these movies are not stopping and “Thor: Ragnarok” is a prime example, as that individual series has now concluded like “Iron Man” and “Captain America” before it. And what a conclusion it was, as it might be my favorite out of the three and one that holds up against its familiar competition within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So much fun and so much information to take in as we move toward part one of “Avengers: Infinity War” in 2018. But, don’t take my word for it, just look at the box office numbers which speaks volumes as to how well received this film has been since its release.
It’s getting a little hard to follow where all these stories pick up from an Avengers standpoint, but the good news about “Thor: Ragnarok” is it really doesn’t matter given the ‘realm’ it resides in. Meaning, it’s all so unique that you can pretty much buy into whatever is happening. It all starts with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) hanging upside down and tied up at the feet of a fire demon named Surtur. A precarious positon, sure, but one Thor is able to get out of. It’s been two years since the Battle of Sokovia and Thor is still no closer to finding the Infinity Stones. So the crown of Surtur would have to do, only it didn’t solve everything once he returned to Asgard. And after realizing his father Odin was not present, he grabbed his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to go find him. With the help of Dr. Strange, they find Odin in Norway where he tells him he is about die. Odin explains that when he is gone, the cursed prison he put his firstborn daughter Hela (Cate Blanchett) in will end. A short time later, that prediction came true sending this story down a wicked path that no one could have predicted. A path that featured planet Sakaar, where time is jacked up and there are a host of wormholes to escape through. But, the next thing Thor knew, he was being captured by one Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson) and put into a Contest of Champions to fight none other than his old buddy Hulk. What a coincidence, or was it? I guess you will have to watch to find out as this story proves to be quite colorful and revealing behind all the chaos in the foreground.
By now most people know who Chris Hemsworth, a.k.a. Thor, is. I mean, the guy has embodied this role better than expected and in my mind deserves all the attention he gets. He might not be as flamboyant as Iron Man or a screen stealer like Hulk, but he gets away with it thanks to his looks and nicely timed humor. And from what I read in an article by Mike Reyes (CinemaBlend), Hemsworth requested as much early on wanting this third installment to be “injected with that sort of smart wit and unexpected kind of humor, kind of what James Gunn came in and did with “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Well, it was ideal and exactly what we needed for what will be the final installment. So good by Hemsworth for recognizing this after the first two and obviously the producers for going with it. I think it helped the cast maneuver through the story and that’s big for a newcomers to the series like Tessa Thompson and even Cate Blanchet, although she could read a book and grab my attention. That’s the greatness of one Cate Blanchett, so I loved seeing her playing the ruthless Hela here. Pretty much everyone else filled in where needed, including some timely moments by Mark Ruffalo/Hulk, but I do need give props to Idris Elba for managing his own with a tad bit more screen time finally. Playing a roughed up version of Heimdall, he was nearly unstoppable as he helped protect and fight off Hela’s vicious army.
Whether people want to believe it or not, “Thor: Ragnarok” is kind of a beginning to the end. As the third installment to its series, the fifth in Phase Three and the 17th overall film, we are getting close to all this concluding. Yes, I realize we still have one more Avengers film that will consist of two parts, starting with “Avengers – Infinity War” next year, but that’s really it for all the mainstay characters we have watched since the first “Iron Man” back in 2008. Hard to believe, but I think it’s nice to sort of look back as we enjoy this latest “Thor” installment. And it sure was a lot of fun to endure thanks to some crafty direction by Taika Waititi, who actually won this job over other directors. A relatively unknown director to the U.S., Waititi has done quite a bit over in New Zealand, but directing within this universe had to be a giant leap. Although you wouldn’t know it given how smooth everything appeared. Sure, he had help, but the style is all him and I really couldn’t find too much wrong. He mixed the action sequences nicely and made sure to allow the script to breathe within the insane sets, especially on Sakaar. Even Hulk’s new animation was better than I expected, as I initially thought he might have been “too perfect.” Figure, before this film, Hulk never really spoke a whole lot, so this was new in a lot of ways. But, Waititi and his team of screenwriters did a great job working together to make sure it wasn’t too big if a change. I was impressed and the back and forth between he and Thor was extremely satisfying. So while the humor that is sprinkled throughout this film certainly helps carry it, Waititi and his cast did the rest.