Thor: Not a Bore, But…

Luke Adelhoch, Entertainment Editor

Thor: Ragnarok had a rocky start. After a set of trailers that showed rather worrying signs of the film’s quality, my faith dwindled. And the hot streak of great Marvel films such as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Spiderman: Homecoming coming to an end with Ragnarok would be quite sad. And even though the trailers had given me a bad first impression, I chose to give the movie a fair chance. But I walked in with low expectations. Honestly, I was glad that I did. If I had expected anything on par with the last two Marvel films, I would’ve been disappointed. Was the film bad? No. I smiled, I laughed, and I had a good time. But the film did have many glaring issues that weighed it down. So what did I really think of the film?

The first setback for Thor: Ragnarok is that it attempts to adapt both Ragnarok and Planet Hulk. This means two stories are forced to compete for time and attention, making a very cluttered film. Neither gets the chance to shine. This also causes dissonance, as the combination is rather odd. Sure, it keeps the film exciting and varied, but the shift from Science-Fantasy Asgard to the 80s-inspired scrapyards and cities of planet Sakaar can be rather jarring to say the least.

However, an inconsistent tone hurts the film much more. Ragnarok, as a concept, is dark and dramatic. It is the end of Asgard, the fall of the gods. And the movie isn’t afraid to show the death that comes with it. Established characters are killed mercilessly. Things change in a way that will never go back. But the movie is afraid to commit. Moments after a death, the movie goes back to making jokes. Some jokes are funny, but the movie seems unfocused. A lot of dark and potentially emotional scenes, as well as serious issues such as alcoholism and PTSD, are swept under the rug by a script that doesn’t know what to do.

Not to mention that a lot of these jokes were already shown in the trailers, killing their impact. This means that when I was supposed to be laughing, I was instead taking note of how the jokes were distracting. This is more the fault of the advertising department than the filmmakers, but it does go to show how much that bad first impression hurts- and the issue of the jokes serving only to divert attention still stands.

Hela, while not bad, still pales in comparison to the earlier Marvel villains of this year, Ego and Vulture. Even Loki, the villain of the first Thor, was more compelling. Jeff Goldblum’s character was also underused (I’ll talk more about that gem later). And Thor himself wasn’t really the reason to watch (He went from comically noble to “dumb jock”), the Hulk and Loki wound up far more desire to watch, in part due to their characterization remaining consistent.

So far, it might look like I disliked the movie. But I actually enjoyed it. Despite the many flaws, there was also enough to like that I still had a fun time. Even if Hela wasn’t the best of the Marvel villains, she wasn’t a boring “monologue antagonist” either. The actress was clearly having fun chewing the scenery a bit. And Jeff Goldblum as The Grandmaster was pure gold. I would’ve loved a standalone Planet Hulk movie with him as the main villain. Bruce Banner and Thor also had a very fun dynamic, and watching them felt like a good buddy comedy. And the ending was a clever resolution to the conflict, wrapping up the story neatly while not feeling contrived.

In the end, Thor: Ragnarok is best described as a movie that doesn’t know what it wants to be. One moment it’s a melodrama about the twilight of the gods, and the next it’s a buddy comedy. And sometimes it tries and fails to be both at the same time. Both sides had enough to like, but they clashed and wound up competing for screen time rather than merging into a cohesive plot.  

So can I recommend it? Well, it’s not boring. But at the same time, it won’t win over anyone who isn’t already a Marvel fan. So if superhero movies are your thing and you can’t wait for Black Panther or Infinity War, maybe it’s worth a watch. If not, save your money.