#MOVIEREVIEWMONDAYS: "Thor Ragnarok"

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"Thor: Ragnarok" (2017) is directed by Taika Waititi, and follow the titular hero, played by Chris Hemsworth, as he and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is imprisoned on an alien world, and must escape in order to save Asgard from the rule of the villainous Hela (Cate Blanchett).

I’m going to be blunt… this is the best “Thor” film by far…

The previous Thor films: Thor (2011), and Thor: Thor: The Dark World (2013), are two of the weakest films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though enjoyable for fans, the two films are plagued with weak structure and narrative, and retain serious issues with acting and character development. 'Ragnarok' fixes many of these issues.

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They key problem solver was hiring the right director. Taika Waititi, an New Zealander filmmaker most known for his comedic works What We Do in the Shadows (2014) and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016), despite initial critiques among fans, was the perfect choice for the film. Waititi brings wit, humor, and a fine eye for filmmaking, something the MCU desperately needed.

While the film still suffers some problems, there are quite a bit of innovations presented that shine up the MCU.

First thing’s first: the comedy. This is arguably the funniest film of the MCU, and possibly the funniest superhero film in general. Most of this is thanks to Waititi, whose career is defined by innovative comedic efforts. From witty physical acting from Mark Ruffalo as Hulk to iconic storytelling from Thor, audiences best get ready for a good couple of laughs. However, a turnoff for some filmgoers is that the comedic aspects may be too overbearing, as many jokes may appear to be shoehorned in.

Another asset of the film is the acting. You wouldn’t expect a beefy Chris Hemsworth to be a comedic actor, but he in fact shines. The MCU regulars such as Tom Hiddleston and Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk are at their best in this film. The newcomers also show strength.

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Tessa Mae Thompson and Cate Blanchett are both very well cast as in their roles in spite of the lack of innovation in her character due to Marvel's sometimes lazy storytelling. A problem that has poisoned Marvel films are the villains. Marvel is fairly quick to cast away used villains (with exception to Loki, of course). Once her time was up, that was that. She will not become as memorable as some would hope.

Jeff Goldblum as The Grandmaster is at his quirky comedic best. There aren’t any bad performances in the film. Even Waititi establishes an iconic role as Korg, an alien gladiator.

Ragnarok also fixes the previous film’s issue of character development, particularly in the case of Thor himself. The other films portrayed him as relatively overdramatic, with nothing changing by the end of the films. In Ragnarok, Thor suffers loss and defeat, and this affects his actions throughout the course of the movie. This is a significant improvement over the majority of the films in the MCU.

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My second major problem with the film was the disposability and wastes of characters. The two characters that appear to be in the film for no real reason with minimal appearances are Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Skurge (Karl Urban). These two barely pass the two-minute mark of screen-time and seem to be a cheap way of attempting to arouse emotion. This attempt is rather lackluster.

There are also several minor complaints while, not a buzzkill, may get on some people’s nerves. The film has a rather fast pace, not leaving enough time for adequate storytelling. The music is rather dull and forgettable, minus a borrowed rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”. The editing could be far better. Although there were some exceptions to this, the film was rather choppy.

Consensus

Despite several technical problems and cheap storytelling, Thor: Ragnarok enters the MCU as an exciting, funny, and entertaining chapter to Thor’s adventures, aided by key direction from director Taika Waititi, on-point dialogue, and well-tuned acting mixed with just the right amount of action.

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