Thor: Ragnarok makes a “SMASH” in theaters

Thor: Ragnarok pits the mighty Thor against Asgards greatest enemies.

Courtesy of Marvel

Thor: Ragnarok pits the mighty Thor against Asgard’s greatest enemies.

Jacob Graff, Eastside Staff

*NOTE: This article contains spoilers about the movie*

If there’s one movie that provides the twist, the “it” factor that could spark movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to new, all-time highs, it is Thor: Ragnarok. The promotional materials highlight the shift as well, being the first movie without Thor’s universally-famous golden locks in its entirety. It truly serves as a microcosm of the risks the director, Taika Waititi, is willing, and very much able to pull off.

The tone of the movie is drastically different than almost all of the previous Marvel movies in the MCU, bar the newest Spider Man entry, Spider Man: Homecoming. It loses the self-serious nature of the past, and ushers in a fun, almost bouncy movie-going experience, where the audience can as much laugh at the well-thought-out comedy as be amazed by the stunning graphics and action sequences that are natural to the Thor franchise. However, this is still a movie that most people can enjoy with pleasure.

It starts off quite spiritless, to be honest. At least Thor (Chris Hemsworth) would say that, as he is locked in a cage, his only company a skeleton (who does not last long either), who seems to be quite lacking in spirit himself. The beginning moments immediately give the audience the notion that this movie is like no other. In a seemingly perilous situation, in front of a demon whose being is literally fire, Waititi injects comedic irony into the scene. Thor has to ask the demon on multiple occasions to stop his grand threats mid-sentence so he can turn around to face him, as he is hovering above the ground in chains that are spinning him in slow circles.

This film does a great job at explaining the events that occur throughout the past movies in terms of the past movie franchises. However, it ensures the audience needs to know general and specific details about Thor’s history. It felt necessary to rewatch the previous installment, Thor 2: The Dark World, to gain a larger and more complete understanding of the events that transpired throughout Ragnarok. On the other hand, this film fits near perfectly into the overall cinematic universe. It’s only fault is creating a plotline that was never remotely referenced in past movies. However, the plot is expansive, giving the audience a view of the many unique worlds that exists in Thor’s galactic community and intricate connections to previous Marvel movies

A large part of this movie is based on the connection between characters in the MCU, including Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), which helps to connect this movie to other Marvel movies. Avengers: Age of Ultron precludes this movie, and it is needed to understand how Thor and the Hulk get tangled up in the Contest of Champions. This is a fight-to-the-death battle, which is one of the key (and one of the most comical)parts in the movie.

Analytically, this movie does little to further or change the audience’s opinions on key characters because of its little character development of existing heroes. Waititi does next to nothing to create character arcs in the story, with Thor, Loki, and even the Hulk continuing to act the same as in the past. However, his deficiency in this is offset by the wonderful Cate Blanchett playing the antagonist Hela, who in herself, is one of the most complex characters in the movie. Hela is Thor’s enemy, but she appears to herself as the savior of Asgard, making it complicated to call her the clear villain.

Hela is just one example of the excellent directing of Waititi, as he also balances serious parts of the movie with humorous ones. The death of Odin, Thor’s father, is shown to be emotionally draining for Thor and his brother, although it was Loki who banished Odin from the throne and stripped him of his powers. The first sight of Hela soon after changes the mood at the drop of a hat too. This shows the juxtaposition between storytelling elements that combine to make this tale a great one.

Overall, I would give this film a 4:5 stars. While the violence is less gory than usual, it still exists. Also, the change in tone from the sullen nature of the previous films to the laugh-out-loud vibe that Waititi intentionally establishes might not be for everyone. However, it is expertly directed and flows cleanly, making this the best Thor movie to date.