Grumpy Bird Reviews: Thor: Ragnarok

I had a few hours between the end of work and the beginning of a work party the other day, so i figured it was a good chance to check out the latest Marvel offering on the big screen. Sadly, a mistake in theaters meant I missed roughly the first five minutes, but I think I can still voice an opinion here.

FB_IMG_1500795626110Thor: Ragnarok

writer: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost

director: Taika Waititi

Marvel

Quick Review:

This is a had movie to succinctly review. There were several sections in this flick that were great. A lot of the Hulk scenes, the relationship between Thor and Loki. Jeff Goldblum was absolutely brilliant. But, despite the strength of those scenes, there were also many less enthralling moments. Doctor Strange’s appearance ground the film to a halt for no real reason. And despite my love for the headpiece, Hela was a one-note character that by the end of the film was pretty much a bore. Sure, this was more entertaining than Dark World and possible more so than the first Thor, but the lack of consistent quality hurt the film as a whole.

Spoilers Lurk Below

Analysis:

It doesn’t help this film that it starts off with one of the tropes that hurts my enjoyment of a movie. And that is when the previous outing ends with a wild status quo and the next film spends the first 20-30 minutes undoing that prior development. It’s a waste of time and delays the actual telling of the new vehicles story. (For other examples of this check out the third offering in both Matrix and Pirates of the Caribbean.)

Here, that opening real estate goes to the reveal of Loki as Odin and then the search for Odin. And while these scenes had their good parts it simply resulted in a slow down of story only to reveal the one-note threat of Helga, played by Cate Blanchett.

Speaking of Blanchett, I was rather surprised by how little interest I had in this version of the character. She was a goth stereotype, debuting with fashionable slashed clothes to show how evil she is. Her solution to every problem was a sword, so much so that I started wondering if they should just call her the Goddess of Pointy Things instead of Death. After her initial appearance we saw everything this version had to offer and the reliance on such an uninteresting being hurt the film. Perhaps if something had been don to make her more of a force of nature there could have been more tension, but I was underwhelmed.

And while a lot has been said about the humor of the film, I also couldn’t help but find this lacking as well. Well, let me be more specific, despite his comedy skills I couldn’t really line up with the use of Thor as a comedy prop in this movie. Now, while there is an argument to be made that he has been shown as rather preposterous and comical in the past, especially in the Avengers movies, and that this was just following that trend. But, he felt far more wacky and jokey here. The humor seemed to be placed before character and there seemed to be a desire to make this more of a joke machine. Or, to put it another way, wacky humor and cosmic ridiculousness worked very well in the Guardians of the Galaxy and the earlier Thor movies were widely seen as the weakest, so perhaps the decision was made to sprinkle on the wacky dust and see what could happen, knowing it certainly couldn’t be any worse.

And, well, maybe they were right. The first two Thor movies didn’t quite work and I have no doubt that more people will enjoy this one. I can’t even say I didn’t enjoy, because there were certainly parts I enjoyed very much. But I just don’t think it was that good of a movie. It was akin to the junk food you eat while feeling that the flavor is burning due to too much sugar and salt. You crave the burn, but it doesn’t truly satisfy.

Going into a bit of comic nerd-dom. Either bear with me or skip ahead.

A few years back we got the reveal that Angela, the former Spawn character, was now part of the Marvel universe and was joining it as a daughter of Odin. I couldn’t help but wonder how this movie would be if instead of using Hela, they went for Angela. Since Hela in the movie, outside of visuals, shares little with the comics version Angela does seem a better fit for the story being told here. It makes me wonder if there was a rights issue or something else that got the characters spun around.

Also, I can’t help but wonder if a par of my enjoyment was hurt by the loss of the hammer. I’ll admit, Thor is one of my favorite Marvel characters and I’m one of those who thinks he has gotten a pretty raw deal in the four-color world these past few years. If all this happened and instead of the hammer being broken, as a way to knock down Worf, if it had just been lost, would dI have gotten more enjoyment? Maybe. But I do think there are enough problems in this movie that keep it from being a smooth ride.

Wrap Up:

I often get criticized by friends for not being able to just sit down and enjoy a movie. I’m often told that I am looking for reasons to pick something apart. And, while the end result supports those claims, that really isn’t the case. I want to enjoy these movies and I don’t go in looking for problems. I’m hoping that if I watch this flick again these complaints about story-flow and characterizations will dissolve in the mist of fun. But for know, despite some shining moments, there is just too much wrong with this film to suggest it as anything more than a visual ride and bug budget popcorn movie.

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