Spoiler-free Review: « Thor: Ragnarok »

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One of the worst offenses a movie can commit is be mediocre. Everyone remembers both great films as well as terrible films. Even if these films are on the opposite side of the spectrum in quality, memorable scenes will be ingrained in our brain like an embarrassing first kiss, to that passionate tenth one. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is an awful movie, just awful.

But, it is memorable; we all recall the time when Martha became the most mocked name for the summer, simultaneously remembering Wonder Woman came crashing down accompanied by her adrenaline pumping leitmotif. It will be a while until we forget those moments. Despite being a major comic book geek, I can honestly say that I forgot the vast majority of Thor: The Dark World. I remember generic plot points, and failed attempts at comedy, but nothing sticks out. So when a sequel to Thor was announced, many people, fans included, were hesitant to accept the hulking beef-cake Chris Hemsworth back into our feeble arms. But when that first trailer came out, many people began to look back at the Nordic god of thunder with some hope. Despite the subtitle Thor: Ragnarok has not guided us to the end of the Marvel cinematic universe.

It seems that the hive mind that controls the Marvel movies has found the secret ingredient to a great summer blockbuster: fun and positivity. With the successful segments in Phase 3 of their cinematic universe, we are beginning to realize that movies don’t need to be dour and gritty to be good. Unlike its first two movies, which were Shakespearean on the surface, Thor: Ragnarok decided to make a wild left turn into a completely new territory. Taika Waititi, the director, wanted to make a superhero movie in the style of a road trip gone awry. Asgard is about to meet its doom (this is not a spoiler, it’s in the title!), and despite the world ending, dealing with psychotic family members, and  ending up as a pit-fighting slave, Thor is still remaining upbeat, and honour bound. He snarks, he smiles, he fights. Overall he creates memorable moments.

Starting with a wonderful trailer, and ripping stories straight from the comics, I was still hesitant going in. I was concerned over the overabundance of characters. I can’t stand it when they add a third villain, a fourth sidekick, and a character used solely as a teaser for a plot for an upcoming sequel. Just to start, this movie added Hela, Valkyrie, Hulk, and Jeff Goldblum on top of the characters we’re familiar with from Thor’s previous movies. It can be hard juggling so many characters and give them their time in the sun. But Waititi made it work. They had the right amount of comic relief, stoicism, and over the top ham. Most importantly, the characters stayed true to themselves, they didn’t suddenly change for the sake of the plot, or to make a scene memorable. Chris Hemsworth is perfect as the upbeat, meathead man of action.  He diverted away from the typical fish out of water story, and focused on being the man of action and fun he always should have been. Normally I’m not a fan of Cate Blanchett, but here she was perfectly cast to play a porcelain skinned goddess with a thirst for power. You could tell she devilishly loved every scene she was in.  Mark Ruffalo brought something new to the Hulk, instead of simply screaming and smashing, he brought some depth to the Hulk, demonstrating the conflict Banner has with his big green persona.

Fun comic book movies need two things: great characters (which Thor Ragnarok has in excess) and great action. We all remember that airport scene in Captain America: Civil War. We all remember the train scene in Spider-Man 2. The Thor films never had a scene that got my blood pumping. Right off the bat, you will know what kind of movie you just walked into. The choreography for the fights limited the amount of slow-motion, shaky cam, and multiple cuts. To make a comparison, let’s look at John Wick. I love the action in both movies, but there’s so many times we can see Keanu Reeves shoot a guy in the head before I get my fill. Every fight scene in Thor: Ragnarok brings something new. They range from no-holds-barred beat downs to full on superhero team battles. I don’t remember it because it’s fresh in my memory.  I can’t remember a memorable action scene between Spider-Man and The Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming.  That movie came out this year. But I still remember when Chris Evans took down GSP in Captain America: Winter Soldier and that came out in 2014. You won’t be disappointed with the amount of butt that gets kicked in this movie.

Is Thor: Ragnarok mediocre? Not by a long shot. It’s closer to Guardians of the Galaxy than it is to the Captain America films.  It’s fun, but takes itself seriously. There’s more action and less pop culture references, and the cast don’t just consist of jerks. This movie can be best described as a delcious dessert. It hits the heart and soul in the right way. You’ll leave with a spring in your step and a smile on your face. Sometimes it’s fine to have complex heroes, other times we just want to see the incredible Hulk punch the mighty Thor.

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David Harris

David Harris has lived in Montreal his whole life. He thoroughly enjoys discussing most subjects including the arts, technology, and good food. He shows a great appreciation for good stories and dialogue, which suits his passions perfectly: television, movies, and graphic novels. But, deep down, he has to admit that his biggest love will always be with the movies and movie going experience.

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