I doubt I’m alone in being tired of Marvel movies. Since 2008 we’ve had 18 movies and 10 (I think) loosely connected television shows on various platforms. Personally, I hit my saturation point a long time ago and realized any narrative connections would be explained in the next film I wanted to watch, meaning I could be skipping various entries (Doctor Strange, Captain America: Civil War) without losing much. But, nieces and nephews, Uncle Manhammer has been tasked with giving Thor: Ragnarok a fair shake. Read on to find out!
The Movie Itself (4/5)
First, let’s get this out of the way; I’m under no pretense that anything I say as a reviewer is going to sway anyone’s opinion on this film one way or another. Marvel movies have existed long enough now that you can judge from a trailer if one will see it or not. They also exist in this strange little pocket universe of pop culture where they are only critiqued against each other, which is where the Star Wars franchise is heading (if it’s not there already).
That being said, I firmly believe this is the best film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (that I’ve seen, naturally) and I would argue that despite being the third in a series, is the strongest film when held accountable as a film on its own merits. Stripping away all the caveats one would give it for being a Marvel film, it works far better than it has any right to and is downright entertaining from start to finish.
Beginning with some brief expository dialogue that is entertaining and to the point, we’re immediately dropped into a fight sequence seeing Thor fight a horde of fire demons while Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song pounds through the scene. This is perhaps the best way to set the tone and indicate the ride we’re about to take. Considering it’s taken three films to get to this point, and it probably should have been the first scene of the first Thor. I mean, c’mon. Thor and Immigrant Song are like peanut butter and chocolate.
The plot moves forward very briskly and Thor eventually finds himself on an alien world being forced to compete in the Contest of Champions while his sister is taking over Asgard. What’s the most appealing of all this, is that aside from the opening scene, Thor: Ragnarok takes our titular hero out of the realms of fantasy and drops him firmly in science fiction land, the images presented even hearkening back to the water-colored paintings that adorned cheap paperbacks in the late seventies and early eighties.
Now, I’m not spoiling anything if you’ve watched a trailer, but the film even kicks it into a higher gear when ol’ greenskin himself, The Incredible Hulk, shows up and is revealed to be the current champion Thor must defeat if he wants a chance to reach Asgard again. The fight scene between them is a WWE inspired slugfest that really lets both of them go at it without having to worry about collateral damage or harming one another… something that is surprisingly lacking in superhero films overall. Part of the reason I want to see these larger than life characters in movies is so they can beat the ever loving crap out of something. It’s why Superman 2 works a little better than Superman: The Movie; Supes can punch the Phantom Zone criminals without worrying about killing them.
Perhaps my biggest complaint with Thor: Ragnarok is how quippy Thor is. Hell, I’m honestly tired of how quippy everyone is in films anymore. Something gets lost in the whole experience if EVERY protagonist laughs in the face of danger. Just like how we’re tired of every cop playing by his own rules to make sure justice is done. But… despite my objection, quippy Thor is actually quite funny.
Visuals/Picture Quality (5/5)
Thor: Ragnarok is stunning in the visuals department. Epic landscapes and cosmic worlds are presented and immediately invoke a sense of awe and wonder. Given the other-worldly nature of the film, the uncanny valley that a lot of effects-driven movies fall victim to isn’t present here. To use a tired but accurate cliche… Thor: Ragnarok is a feast for the eyes.
Score/Audio Quality (5/5)
A rich and full audio experience is presented with Thor: Ragnarok. My soundbar was adequate and the dialogue wasn’t drowned out by the effects. I’m assuming you could use this as a reference film if you had a 5.1 system given how good the mix is.
Special Features (4/5)
This is actually a pretty stacked release given the quality of the extras.
- Director’s Intro and Commentary Track – Technically two features, but both feature director Taika Waititi and his humor. The intro is funny and the commentary track is funny AND informative. Totally worth checking out.
- Getting in Touch With Your Inner Thor – A brief but decent featurette about Thor and his evolution as a character throughout the films.
- Finding Korg – Funny. Watch this.
- Unstoppable Women: Hela and Valkyrie – Probably the weakest featurette on the disc, but that’s not saying it’s bad.
- Sakaar: On the Edge of the Known and Unknown – A quick look at the new world presented.
- Journey Into Mystery – An interesting, yet too short look at Thor as a comic character.
- Team Darryl – More funny. Watch.
- Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years – The Evolution of Heroes – A long commercial for Infinity War.
- Deleted Scenes – Mostly extended scenes, but fun stuff overall.
- 8-Bit Sequences – Interesting little animatics for two sequences in the film.
- Gag Reel – Do I need to explain?
We’ve got a standard eco-case housing two discs with a slip… but like every Marvel film that’s been released, it’s got that weird side clip that’s always bent or broken on the edge of the disc. What’s the point of that anyway? Making sure the disc snaps extra shut? Also includes a UV code of course.
- Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
- English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
- French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1
- Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
- Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
- English SDH
Thor: Ragnarok Overall (4/5)
Thor: Ragnarok works on so many levels…as a film, as a sequel, as a hell of a good time. A lot of credit has to be given to director Taika Waititi for taking what I thought was the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s weakest franchise and turning it into something fun and enjoyable. Given his insights on the special features, it looks like he even had just as much fun making the movie as one should have watching it.