Thor: Ragnarok (2017)


It seems that we have reached a sort of singularity where the only movies released at this point are either super hero films or the latest Star Wars sequel or side project.  I know that somewhere out there someone is making decent (or indecent) action films that aren't mega-budget cartoons. 

Cartoons, however, seem to be what we are in for these days.  For some reason the recent round of Marvel films leading up to Avengers: Infinity War have seemed more and more like listening to a hyper six-year-old tell us about a movie he saw rather than attempting to be movies themselves.  Sadly, although I may be in the minority of truly liking Thor: The Dark World much more than its predecessor, the third visit to Asgard does nothing to improve on the series.

We find our titular Asgardian God (Chris Hemsworth) getting himself purposely captured by Surtur (Clancy Brown), a fire giant intent on bringing forth Ragnarok, or the end of days, to Asgard.  To prevent this Thor slays him and steels his crown to put away for safe-keeping.  However, upon returning to Asgard, he finds the Bifrost Bridge being guarded by a low-level official named Skurge (Karl Urban) and that his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), disguising himself as their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), has taken over the throne. 

Thor is not too happy to find his father missing, so he has Loki join him on a trip to Earth.  With the help of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), they find Odin hanging out in Norway and get a chance to meet with the Allfather before he passes away.  Unfortunately, his passing unleashes another family member: their sister Hela (Cate Blanchett), who happens to be the Goddess of Death.  Turns out before he had sons that Odin and Hela spent time conquering the Nine Realms before he decided to go a different path and locked her away. 

Hela spares no time crushing Mjolnir and beating the stuffing out of her brothers before heading to Asgard.  On the way both Loki and Thor are thrown off the bridge, with Thor landing on a garbage planet.  When a drunken scrapper (Tessa Thompson) rescues him from scavengers, he instead finds himself being sold into gladiatorial combat to the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), the planet's dictator.  He also finds that Loki ended up there before him and has weaseled his way into the Grandmaster's good graces.  Thor also finds out that the only way to win his freedom is to survive a battle with the Grandmaster's undefeated champion - who just turns out to be the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). 

After fighting to a draw, Thor tries to convince Hulk to help him escape and go to Asgard to defeat Hela.  Hulk wants nothing to do with it, and the scrapper that sold him - who is actually one of the last surviving Valkyries - refuses to help as well.  Eventually, though, Thor escapes and attempts to power up an Avengers jet that the Hulk piloted through to the planet, only to be pursued by the the green guy and have the ship torn to pieces before he shrinks back into Bruce Banner.  The Grandmaster is incensed at losing his prize fighters, but with the help of the Valkyrie they manage to start a gladiator rebellion and escape the planet.

Meanwhile, Hela quickly takes over the throne of Asgard, using Skurge as her executioner while the exiled Heimdall (Idris Elba) helps the inhabitants of Asgard escape her armies of undead soldiers and her familiar, the giant wolf Fenris.  Thor, Banner and the Valkyrie arrive to aid the evacuation of Asgard's people, but in order to destroy Hela Thor must make the toughest decision of his life.

Just explaining the plot sounds like, "And then the Incredible Hulk fought Thor and there was this guy made of rocks and some scissor creature and a big horned fire guy and space ships and monsters and..."  You get the picture.  It's too the point of someone writing fan fiction to impress their eighth grade English teacher.  On top of that, Thor: Ragnarok, with its tips of the hat to mythology and Cate Blanchett looking like Maleficent went on a Hot Topic shopping spree, can't decide whether it wants to be a serious film or slapstick comedy.  It fails heavily at both, with the only joke that works being Hulk's consternation at being told not to smash a giant monster.

Doctor Strange is another unnecessary cameo, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston phone the whole thing in and Blanchett is just as dull as every other Marvel villain.  Surtur was much more interesting and entertaining, and he was largely just a plot device.  Jeff Goldblum gets to act like Jeff Goldbum, which I guess is okay, but the Grandmaster really isn't any more interesting that Hela - he's just the Collectore reskinned.  In fact, that's who I thought it was at first, until I remembered that role is played by Benicio Del Torro.

Once again, special effects wise, hundreds of millions of dollars have gone into making the movie look like subpar video game. 

It's bad enough that Disney tends to do risk averse movies that seem to be stamped out in a factory.  Some of the Marvel films have been interesting exceptions, but at this point they might as well just be developing plots the same way South Park portrayed Family Guy writers coming up with jokes.  For the money they are dumping into these there should at least be an attempt to make a good movie rather than just a bunch of slapdash action scenes held together by the thinnest of well-worn plots.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Time: 130 minutes
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson
Director: Taika Waititi

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