The third chapter in the Thor trilogy and the seventeenth instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best film to star the God of Thunder, and is also one of Marvel’s funniest entries to date. Discarding the mood set by its predecessors, revamping everything from the ground up, and boasting the most charismatic cast to ever surface in a superhero flick, Thor: Ragnarok is an absolute riot that’s downright hilarious, endlessly entertaining & highly satisfying. And the reason behind its vibrant feel, reinvigorated tone & distinctive humour is director Taika Waititi himself.
Set two years after the events that transpired in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the story of Thor: Ragnarok follows the God of Thunder after he loses his precious hammer at the hands of a new threat who emerges to reclaim her birthright and leaves him on the other side of the universe. Finding himself on a garbage planet where he is imprisoned & enlisted in a lethal gladiatorial contest against his former ally & fellow avenger, the incredible Hulk, the crown prince of Asgard not only has to fight for survival but must also find a way to escape his captivity, and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home & the Asgardian civilisation.
Directed by Taika Waititi (best known for What We Do in the Shadows & Hunt for the Wilderpeople), Thor: Ragnarok is a completely different beast when compared to the previous chapters, and is a Waititi film right down to the bone. Infused with a playful vibe, sprinkled with Kiwi humour & keeping its light-hearted tone alive for the entirety of its runtime, the film presents a completely different side of its titular character, and does so by first destroying & then resurrecting the almighty God from scratch. Waititi’s direction is top-notch and utilises the provided creative freedom to full measure to deliver a big-budget extravaganza that’s fun yet not devoid of heart.
The plot outline isn’t very different from the blueprint that Marvel implements for most of its flicks but what really separates it from other entries is the sense of joy it provides despite the tone of familiarity. The story has a much lighter & adventurous feel, as evident in the groovy textures of its images & vivid colour palette, and bears more similarity to James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy than previous Thor films. The decision to focus more on established characters’ arcs & their relationship with each other may divide a few viewers but it does work out in the film’s favour. The new characters don’t get as much screen time but they do get their moments to shine.
There is a whole lot of dismantling & rebuilding that goes on in Thor: Ragnarok from start to finish, and it’s apparent in both the storytelling & technical aspects. Its visual aesthetic is quite different, the characters are given an idiosyncratic side, the world we are introduced to has an oddball quality, and it all feels fresh, new & exciting. Its energetic camerawork & psychedelic use of colour really enriches the visual design. Editing is slick & smooth throughout, and its steady pace makes sure that the interest never fizzles out. VFX is seamless but that’s expected, considering its budget. And its synthesised score stays in sync with the unfolding events and utilises Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song to perfection.
Coming to the performances, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Mark Ruffalo & Idris Elba return to reprise their respective roles of Thor, Loki, Odin, Hulk aka Bruce Banner & Heimdall while new additions include Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson & Karl Urban, with Waititi himself in the role of Korg who is a breakout character for sure. The entire cast approaches their roles from a fresh perspective, and it seeps out in their performance that they all had a blast this time. Hemsworth leads the pack from the front but the rest manage to leave their marks too. Blanchett is in as Hela while Goldblum plays the Grandmaster and they both chip in with brilliant inputs, especially the latter who’s a gift that keeps giving.
On an overall scale, Thor: Ragnarok is everything one expects from a Taika Waititi film, and is one of the funniest films of 2017. An amalgamation of assured direction, clever writing, radiant photography, sharp editing, swift pace, groovy soundtrack & colourful performances, the film promises plenty of fun and effortlessly delivers it. One of the best comic book films to surface on the silver screen this year that finds its director trying to reinvent the whole franchise, Thor: Ragnarok is right up there with the most memorable entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and is another winning material from Marvel Studios that further widens the gap between them & their competition. What a year 2017 has been for Marvel, for three fascinating films were added to their ever expanding universe and amongst them, Thor: Ragnarok is definitely the most worthy of your time & money. Delightfully recommended.