Tuesday 20 March 2018

Thor: Ragnarok ★★★★★

I’m sorry, but I usually don’t like Marvel films. I’ve never been into the superhero genre. Well, I was, when I was 12. But since getting into a cynical state of adulthood, I’ve not revisited the genre often at all. In the last few months however, the genre has grabbed my interest again. Filmmakers like Ryan Coogler are jumping into the scene and twisting conventions on their heads, turning the MCU into something fresh and fun. But one man in particular is responsible for restoring my faith in the genre and giving us, in my opinion, one of the finest superhero films in cinema history. His name is Taika Waititi, and his creation is Thor: Ragnarok.

Set two years after the events of the last Avengers film, Ragnarok follows Thor as he finds himself up against a new threat – the goddess of death, Hela (Cate Blanchett). But he has many distractions and hurdles to overcome before he can defeat this foe, primarily being held prisoner on garbage planet Sakaar where he is forced into a gladiatorial match with old ally The Hulk. Narratively, Ragnarok is pretty run-of-the-mill superhero fare. Our hero must rise up and defeat a seemingly all-powerful baddie. But it’s not the story of Ragnarok that gives it its enormous charm. We could get a story like this anywhere. No, Ragnarok’s success lies entirely elsewhere.

As mentioned in the introduction of this review, Ragnarok was directed by Taika Waititi – the man behind modern classics Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We Do in the Shadows. If you’ve seen either of those films, you know the sort of humour you’re in for. And if you haven’t seen either of those films, stop reading this review and correct that. Yes, Ragnarok is packed full of that wonderful Waititian humour that immediately stands it out from the pack. Here’s a superhero film that can fully be identified as a comedy, and the jokes actually land. Ragnarok is bloody hilarious.

While it might seem like a somewhat jarring tonal shift to turn occasional comic relief into full-on comedy, it works. Ragnarok is a good old-fashioned bit of big screen fun that doesn’t take itself remotely seriously – and that is refreshing. Compare it if you will to The Dark Knight. While it’s obvious that The Dark Knight is the superior film, it’s a serious watch. And that isn’t a criticism. The Dark Knight is a modern masterpiece. But with a superhero film, I like a bit of fun. I like a bit of colour. Ragnarok delivers colour and fun in spades from the first scene to the last, and I haven’t had this much fun at the movies in a long time. The film might not be picking up any Oscars anytime soon, but it wouldn’t want them anyway. This was never a film interested in prestige. It’s a film interested in having a good time.

From the opening scene with a pounding “Immigrant Song” playing over a fiery battle, to the ridiculously colourful and over-the-top final showdown with the same song, Ragnarok is a film that has only one aim in mind. To make its audience laugh, cheer and punch the air with delight. 
Thor: Ragnarok is Marvel’s masterpiece. It’s all downhill from here.

Sam Love

Thor: Ragnarok at CeX

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