Monday, November 6, 2017

Thor Ragnarok - Movie Review

Thor Ragnarok is an awesome movie. Is it in the top 3 MCU movies? Not really. But it's a great film nonetheless, and a must-see for most MCU fans. Why didn't I say all MCU fans? I'll cover that and whether or not I think this is a family-friendly film.


Bear and I went to see Ragnarok today, for his birthday, which was not today. But we did a bunch of stuff on his actual birthday, so this was easier. Now, just like with my Spider-Man review, I'm going to warn you ahead of time: while I won't go out of my way just to spoil things, there probably will be some mild to moderate spoilers. And yeah, there you go.

So, if I characterize Spider-Man Homecoming by saying it had heart, this movie had funny bone. In a whole backstory I won't bore you with, Chris Hemsworth and some other people who aren't Chris Hemsworth decided to make Thor funnier than before. Which is, to say, funny at all.  They definitely injected the humor into this film, and it mostly works. Really, the only time I thought it was a misstep would be when there were some pretty serious things going on on the screen, such as attempted genocide, and then Blam! Thor is being funny. While they didn't literally juxtapose jokes with genocide, the jumps from serious to funny were at times jarring. But really, this would be my biggest complaint about the movie, and it's a minor one. After a couple of minutes, the less serious parts would start feeling totally natural again.

Overall, this is the Thor we all know and wanted to love already, but now he's ready for our adulation. Thor is funny, and also pretty awesome. I've described Thor in the past as "You know, he should be just about the most powerful character in the universe, but he just isn't, know what I mean?" Well, without giving too much away, some of the awesomest (yes, it's a word.  I just made it up. Got a problem with that? Consult the section on Hawkeye in my Spider-Man Homecoming review.) scenes in this movie take place once Thor learns a few things about himself. And you don't have to wait until the very end for anything good to happen. Except to Doug. Nothing good happens to Doug.

Seriously, there are some amazing visuals in this film. In terms of bright colors coming at your face, I'd put it just behind Dr. Strange. Also, the entirety of the planet Sakaar seems to occur in the 1980s, somehow. So there are lots of 80s colors, and synthy music, and a Duran Duran t-shirt. (No, really.) Oh, and the synthy soundtrack was all composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, so that's kind of awesome, as well. This whole segment never gets too serious, and also introduces us to the Grandmaster, who is incredibly evil. So evil, in fact, that Bear actually despised him well beyond Hela, who impales just about everyone in the film  I suspect she has an impalement addiction. He even hates him more than Kylo Ren, who killed Han Solo. (You need to understand, nobody is worse than Kylo Ren, in Bear's eyes.) In many ways, the Grandmaster is the true villain of the picture; Hela serves more as a plot device/force of nature with a whole lot of eye shadow. But possibly still less then Jeff Golblum's Grandmaster, who is so greasy it feels like he's going to leave spots on the movie screen.

Bear's Favorite scene: The hugest bolt of lightning in the history of lightning.
My Favorite scene: Either when Thor does a little self-discovery around the middle of the film, or when similar life-affirming transformations occur in several other characters toward the end.

Okay, so here's the big question- to whom would I recommend this movie?
  • If you're an MCU aficionado, and not quite as picky about writing as I am, definitely.
  • If you're 10 or above, almost definitely.  But this is where things get a bit hairy. MCU films have been sneaking in some swear words, and this is no exception. So that needs to be out there.  Also, as I've mentioned, there are just so many impalings. None of them are ever bloody, but it happens a ton. There is an army of resurrected warriors that show up as skeletons with glowing eyes, which might be scary to younger ones. Thor suffers an injury which could be pretty upsetting to younger viewers.  (OMG SPOILER FOR REAL he loses an eye, and while not gory, it's shown uncovered OKAY SPOILERS ARE DONE NOW.) There is some casual alcohol consumption, which is simultaneously treated as a source of humor, and played straight to explore the consequences of trying to hide in the bottom of a bottle.
  • If you're looking for an "in" to the MCU without having to watch 27 hours of back films, sure, why not?  It's entertaining, and gives you a fair idea of what to expect without leaning too heavily on what's happened in the past to be consumed without all the backstory.
I would not recommend it to:
  • People, (like Beth,) whose interest in the MCU doesn't extend much past Guardians and Spider-Man, (although I did get her to get involved while watching Civil War, much to her chagrin.)
  • Kids who are just wayyyy too girly, (like Bug. Impalements freak her out, unless it's that one time with Olaf.) Be who you are, nothing wrong with that. But if who you are is super girly, this probably isn't the movie for you.
  • Children younger than 10, in general. All the aforementioned reasons. You know your kids, you know what they can handle. But just understand, while the MCU films are no stranger to violence, I think Ragnarok showed considerably more of it than any before. Bear handled it just fine, but it's definitely more than what we've gotten in the past.
  • Cinemaphiles. You know your really annoying friend, who always critiques every movie y'all watch?  This is not the MCU film to start him on. Yes, it's getting tons of praise for the humoristic take on Thor, but well, there are times where it sells the movie out to set up a joke.  The jokes work, but it still weakens the movie just a lil bit. Nothing major, but your friend is a pain in the butt, remember? He'll latch on to this like a remora on a shark.

In the end, I'll say that this was a great film. Bear and I both really enjoyed it. Not flawless, and I think that, like Age of Ultron, a bit of time will show that more, but I'm also finding that its charm is growing on me, even as I write this. It has tons of appeal, great effects, good action bits, and an uncharacteristically deep undercurrent of self-exploration that I don't think even Dr. Strange managed to touch.


~Jacob

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