Friday, November 3, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok Review | Spoiler Free

I can sum up what I love so much about this film in two words:


The character dynamic in this is spot on and, more importantly, it works overtime in oh so subtle ways to develop and deepen the characters we know and love, hate, or simply tolerate.

Take Hulk, for example. I've never been a big fan of The Incredible Hulk comics and -while the MCU has taught me to love adorkable, haunted Bruce Banner- I'm still iffy on the Hulk himself. When I first found out that Hulk would be playing such a big role in this film, I wasn't thrilled. But you know what? IT TOTALLY WORKS. They really focus on Hulk as a separate character and develop his personality enough that, well, now I actually like the Hulk. For maybe the first time ever. Guys, that's huge. (ahem. no pun intended.)

I was actually skeptical about a lot of the characters chosen for this film (mostly Hulk) but what could have been a disastrous chemical imbalance of personalities works out as a fantastic meshing of opposites and opposition. Because it's not just about the 'team' (Thor, Hulk, Loki, Valkyrie) dynamic that works together as a whole. They've delved deeper into the characters, taking more of an Avengers-style approach, giving each character unique dynamics and relationships with each other that paints the Thor franchise as a whole, I think, in a fresh coat of paint. Within the relationships there is so much foreshadowing and inversion dynamics in play as well, the qualities of one reflected in the flaws of another and vice versa. There is so much mirroring, so many layers, it's a wonderland for a character-lover like me.

So let's pull up those 5 THINGS I'M MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO from my initial Road to Ragnarok post and compare.

1. Loki
Loki has worn a lot of hats throughout his existence in the Marvel universes and I love the turn they take with him here. Scaling back from his epic Supervillain role, down to his more realistic amoral core, going back to the character's roots in Norse mythology (in more ways than one), all of it deepening and -dare we hope?- developing his character.

Minor Spoiler: Thor: Ragnarok doesn't deliver any dramatic redemption arcs or character development for Loki, like it 'kind of did' in The Dark World -and it's perfect.

2. Thor and Loki's Relationship and Dynamic
Oh. My. Gosh.
Just yes.
Everything about this is spectacular. 

Asgardians, we know, are prone to overreaction and theatricality. I mean, Odin banishing Thor and stripping him of his power to teach him a lesson, Thor and his ilk breaking Loki out of prison and committing treason to save the universe -the first two Thor films are filled with these big dramatic flourishes and reveals. Thor: Ragnarok handles these scenarios differently. The big moments and reveals -like when Loki is ousted and the truth about Odin- aren't the point of the story, they aren't The Plot; instead, they're character moments and they were treated as such. They have a more intimate, down-to-earth feel. They're simple. Simple but so powerful. There's no shouting or grand speeches -just being. Thor being Thor. Loki being Loki. And a little squabbling. I mean, come on, they're still brothers.

Overall, this simplistic approach makes those moments more important and to have more of an impact, because the film takes time to focus on character (unlike my complaint with Thor.)

Thor especially demonstrates growth and -in one of my favorite moments- he POINTS IT OUT TO LOKI, telling him that people are supposed to develop and grow. Thor tries to guide Loki, but he doesn't get preachy about it, which makes him feel so much more human and, possibly, more able to relate to Loki, especially this new angle of him we see.

One of my absolute favorite things is Thor's habit of throwing things at/through Loki to determine whether or not he's flesh or illusion. How realistic is that?!?


3. Hela
Again, OH MY GOSH.
I did not expect the twist they took with this character, but it fits so well. Again(!) offering up more layers and more dynamics between the familiar characters that continues to deepen the characters and their relationships, not only in this film, but in the films that have come before.

Cate Blanchet is amazing in this role, but we already knew that was going to happen.

4. Story

You know me, I get distracted by all things character. But the story here is awesome, not just for the next step in the MCU, but also for it's use and adaption of elements from both the comics and Norse mythology.

5. Kirby Krackle
To my utter shame, I did not actually notice the use of this artistic element. This time around. Distracted by character, remember? I got so caught up I did not distinguish any uses of the Kirby Krackle, but I totally plan to keep an eye out for it during my next viewing.

THOR: RAGNAROK HAD A LOT OF QUESTIONS TO DEAL WITH AND I LOVE THE WAY IT DECIDED TO ANSWER THEM. At the same time, it carries on the family theme seen in the other Thor franchise films and it continues to develop and mature Thor's journey to become and understanding of a true hero. The whole narrative has a nice but different feel to it, like Thor has finally figured out his own identity and his own voice, instead of trying to follow in his father's shadow or live up to expectations.

This a serious contender for my favorite Marvel movie of all. And I haven't even talked about Banner meltdowns and what an awesome character Valkyrie turned out to be! (Who, by the way, is not just your run-of-the-mill, kick-ass, I-can-do-anything-a-man-can-do female character overrun with testosterone. She is actually awesome, due to backstory and character.) 

This movie freaking rules.

The one thing I am not sure about is some of the humor they chose to use, like the slapstick comedy and a lot of Thor screaming/yelling/yelping. This kind of humor was funny first viewing, but has a notorious rep for getting tiring quickly there after. It really depends on how the humor holds up over time to determine whether this was a 4 star or 5 star film for me.

The question isn't "Should I see this film?" but "When?"

Have you seen Thor: Ragnarok yet?
What did YOU think?

The Road to Ragnarok
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  1. Same here with the Hulk- not a huge fan (lol) but from what I've heard it DOES work and I'm all for it. I mean the potential was there from the first avengers movie, and as a reader of the comics while they've scrapped a few times they've never been close- so for the movies to go there and have it work is a neat thing. I like too what you say about the character interactions- just from the trailers there looks like there is chemistry, and frankly I thought Thor NEEDED a new coat of paint, so to speak. Valkyrie too I'm really curious about as I was a fan of hers in the comics (including the old Defenders comics).

    The Thor/ Loki relationship sounds SO well done. Can't wait to see them together Throwing things at Loki=classic. It's so hard to pin down how Asgardians would BE, since there are so many possible takes (every writer and director gets a shot basically), so I'm glad it works here.

    I knew the moment I saw Cate Blanchett as Hela that that was gonna be awesome, even if the rest of the movie sucked. lol they just seemed to capture that "look" that reminded me of the comics so much- remote, aloof, like a force of nature, but also surprisingly emotional? I mean I'm assuming since I haven't seen the film yet, but that's the take I got.

    "Kirby Krackle"? I'll be watching for it. Can't wait to see this!!!

    1. I can't wait to hear what you think of it! It really is just AWESOME.

      I think the fresh-coat Thor looks much better. There wasn't anything wrong per-se with the previous Thor -I really enjoyed the first two movies- but there is something more grabbing about this one.