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#TAPReviews | “Thor Ragnarok”

The God Of Thunder enters the arena with his third solo film. Well, not ‘solo’ solo. You get us.
Dulani Wilson 26th October, 2017 Comics, Movie, Reviews
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We were promised doom and destruction with the coming Nordic version of Armageddon, and Marvel Studios brings the Mightiest Avenger Lord God of Thunder to the forefront in their latest cinematic release – Thor Ragnarok.

Now with two solo films under Odinson’s belt, as well as starring in the Avengers and Age Of Ultron films, Chris Hemsworth’s character gets some mighty assists in trying to cultivate a film that is truly worthy.

So did Taika Waititi and the team strike the right chord? Are is it more light show than raging fire? Let’s get it.

 

SPOILERS AHEAD

 

Marvel in space will always equal comedy. Too bad the thin oxygen doesn’t help.

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Thor’s been having nightmares of Asgard’s impending doom. And to combat it, allows himself to be captured and brought to hellish depths to undo the prophecy. But alas it is not nearly enough. Thor, as you do, keeps remnants of his enemies in his basement under Asgard’s palace, but before he does he finds out quite quickly that Loki has been disguised as his father Odin.
 

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Loki apparently put the old man in a golden age home and took his pop’s throne and possession. Very douchebaggily human thing to do. And after a short near-pointless Doctor Strange cameo we happen on a dying Odin. Who tells his sons, of all times, that they have a sister, who he pretty much banished to hell, and he was using all his strength to keep her there. So when Odin dissolves into a golden pollen dust into nothingness, Hela, I imagine, is free to exit exile and wreak havoc. Now her appearing on earth is convenient we guess. We’d think that her realm would be more parallel to Asgard. But forget the theoretical location of her purgatory. The Goddess Of Death is here. Malevolent headdress cosplay and all. We’re pretty sure Disney wouldn’t try to successfully sue itself.

And in the fight to return to Asgard via the bifrost, Hela hitches a rainbow cosmic ride hurtling Loki and Thor into a limbo of their own. A planet, made of discarded things. It is no sooner than when Thor lands on this strange planet that he gets captured and made to fight in a gladiator arena for Grandmaster’s entertainment. And it is here where he meets his best friend from work – Hulk. And with some remnants of the Avengers, add the lovely sole surviving Valkyrie warrior trying to forget her past, it’s up to them to stop Ragnarok and save the people of Asgard from destruction.

One trend we’ve surely come across is it seems Marvel can’t separate its space from its brand of ‘humour’. You’d think that a bit of individuality would be a key aim for Marvel Studios this deep in the game, but essentially what they achieved was a GoTG-esque outing. And humour is a hard thing to pull off. Thor had his moments. Other times it was forced. And Korg? Annoyingly not funny. Except the comment he made on the 3 pronged wooden stake-like weapon. Like an alien would know about earth vampiric folklore.

 

Odinson cuckolded is painful to watch. And not in a good way

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Thor went through a lot of changes. None of which made much of an emotive impact on him, as he was always dismissed issues with a flippant laugh and comment. But consider what has happened. His father has died. His hammer, the indestructible Mjolnir gets shattered to pieces. Oh, and the person that did it is the Goddess of Death. His sister that he never knew he had. He gets strewn galaxies away from home and his nightmares of Asgard’s end are becoming more and more a reality. But all of this pretty much roles off his back. Not sure how we’re to connect with a god if he doesn’t get emotive. Hell, Loki was more emotive when his mother died in Avengers. Or was that the second Thor film? Yeah, The Dark World. We’re sure…

The Mjolnir was a very phallic thing. A representation of Thor’s man-godhood. An extension of his heritage and birthright. So it’s destruction should have been a soul-crushing thing. Especially with Odin now gone. But that scene had absolutely no impetus. Especially being the chief takeaway from the trailer. Oh, which reminds us…

 

Trailer derailer – the bane of modern cinema

This, in all honesty, is a pet peeve. And Disney + affiliates seem to be the most guilty of committing this cinematic sin. Trailers that purposely tweak, alter and all-out change elements of a scene of shot to mislead the viewers. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Doctor Strange. All did it. And it seems Thor isn’t immune. Okay, Suicide Squad did too, can’t put it all on Marvel’s footstep.

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And the thing about it is, we knew footages was being played around with before we the film hit cinemas. Two separate trailers showed the Mjolnir-crushing scene existing in two different environments. One built up like a city/alley. The other is a serene grassland which turns out to be Norway. A change which did nothing to conceal the hammer’s destruction or anything significant. So what was the point of that?

 
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And then we get to that Thor scene of him landing and emitting great tesla-coil volts of electricity from his being. Looking like Raiden. Was very cool. But in the movie, he actually has only one eye. His other eye got gutted out by his sister Hela. There is something to be said about a trailer edit. The recent Star Wars: The Last Jedi clever trailer editing created narratives that suggest Rey may be heading to the dark side. But chances are that’s not even the narrative. But to change scenes to mislead, using shots that don’t exist in the final cut? That’s paramount to false advertising. Surely.

Don’t get us wrong, there are more grievous instances of this than what appeared in Thor. Rogue One for sure. But our rule of thumb is just to avoid any misrepresentation. Point of Sale scenes that catches the eyes of the viewer goes some considerable way to get us in the cinema. So if it turns out to be a made-up lie, people’ll feel more duped than appreciative.

 

Hulk’s the greatest there is [at baby tantrums?]

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Ever since the introduction of Hulk, we are reminded of how cool and tragic the modern day Jekyll And Hyde really is. Tragic in the sense of being a constant reminder that Marvel sold bits of its soul in 1990’s to various film companies – with Universal getting the Hulk in the bag. So the Hulk we’re seeing is only a sliver of his greatest potential. But even a sliver was good in the Avenger films. So what about Thor. Seeing the Hulk in gladiator uniform gave us a feeling that Planet Hulk could be an opportunity. But as it turns out, it wouldn’t work. As it was the betrayal of Earth’s Illuminati with the likes of Stark that banished Hulk to outerspace away from civilisation. And his return to earth would bring about justified acts of revenge. But at the end of Age Of Ultron, Hulk leaves on his own volition. Anyway, that is neither here nor there.

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This Hulk had to fit in with the humour of space Thor. So, what’s funnier than baby tantrums being done by a homunculous green mass? Rhetorical. It’s off-putting. Hulk speaking on his raging fire? That’s funny. But it seems that the funniest parts of this film you’d have seen in the actual trailer. And other than Thor waiting to retrieve his umbrella-disguised Mjolnir at Strange’s residence whilst it broke and destroyed everything in its fast-traveling wake, humor was a thing that felt a bit forced.

 

Trilogy’s end or a super-long Avengers filler episode?

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This is the cons of Marvel’s expanding cinematic universe. The respect often given to the narrative arc of the trilogy has become abandoned for the serial stratagem that looks to turn a movie into an extended episode for a season that Marvel calls Phase 4.

As such, this wasn’t a unique end to Thor‘s trilogy. It was a prelude to Infinity War. Something to keep us occupied until the first Infinity War trailer makes landfall online. One could argue that the need to have the star power of the Hulk is indicative of this, and the idea of sneaking in a Planet Hulk-esque narrative attached to the films of other Marvel characters whose film rights are outright owned by Disney.

 

The sexiest sequence in Thor was also the shortest.

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And instantly you know which scene I am talking about. It’s certainly a POS sequence. Valkyries riding high in the arena of war, descending like divine rain on Hela, the scourge of hell and death. Poetic. Statuesque. Like a romantic renaissance painting. And these images embody a traumatic past being reawakened in Valkyrie via Loki, so the scene is brief. But we see Tessa’s character losing many comrades and narrowly evading death thanks to the living sacrifice of her sister fighter.
 
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Tessa Thompson claims to have played the character as an LBGTQ character. Which is expected. Women warriors like Wonder Woman that train together. Obviously, that means they are at least bi-sexual right? But this doesn’t really come across or seems integral to her character. Especially since Thor cut his locks and no longer looks like a model for L’Oreal shampoo.

I expected more framing like the Valkyrie descending on Hela scene, seeing we were more in Asgard and in the age of gods. Something to root Thor in the arena of diety, mythology and the classical, romanticised representations of gods and royalty. But alas, ’twas not to be.

 

Hela – another addition to a long line of one-dimensional Villainy

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Now, hear us out. This villain is a woman. Check. Polished English accent. Beautiful. Deadly. Check. But she doesn’t cut it. Why? Because she is one dimensional. There is no conflict, as the father that outright disowned her dies before we even see her. Thor nor Loki didn’t even know of her before she appeared. So she destroys Asgard, and Hela reveals the blood-soaked pillaging history of Odin with his daughter executioner via unearthing a hidden living mural gerrymandered out of Asgard’s history. Because she hasn’t faced her father, where her grievance lies, or having no real emotive connection to destroy Thor and Loki, it soon churns the question of ‘what’s the point?’.

The best villains are tragic heroes. They go through the same perilous fires of hardship that our heroes do, but are forever changed negatively by it. Hela – well, we know she was banished, but she doesn’t get a chance to face her Father, or burn Valkyrie’s soul with a few choice words to remind her that her warrior comrades died by her hand. It was just a power grab. A small hint of jealousy of being replaced by Thor when Odin abandoned his realm-conquering ways. But nothing else.

Even her death was lackluster. Giant fire sword drives her into the ground. Killed not even directly by Thor, but by him unleashing the very Ragnarok he tried the whole film to prevent. I will say again, the most layered bad guy we’ve had in the long history of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has been Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming. And a huge correlative part of that is the film made no overly-forced efforts to interweave every plot and element to the Infinity War arc.

 
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A cutscene at the end shows the exodus of the people of Asgard leaving their celestial home as it is destroyed by Ragnarok… only to be intercepted by a huge vessel. Thanos? Adam? Who knows. Not that big a huge cliff-hanger. But I guess whatever transpires will leave Thor hurtling through space to land on Guardians of the Galaxy ship cockpit as seen in the leaked Avengers: Infinity War trailer.

But what was promised to be a space buddy road trip film, the Hulk’s best moments are in the trailer. So are most of the humorous moments. Thor may not be the mightiest avenger, but he is certainly the weakest in character development. Iron Man is annoying, but we see where he’s coming from and going. The arc I’d have loved to see is something leading to Jane Foster’s Thor, and what our current Thor could’ve possibly done to lose the hammer that is his birthright.
 
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Everything that happened to Thor in this film felt rather unimpactful in the scope of his character, the Thor ‘trilogy’ or Marvel’s Cinematic Universe as a whole. And to think a slight pause here and there coupled with a heart-felt monologue could have gone some ways to remedying that. And that pretty much goes for Cate Blanchett’s Hela. Sad really, as aesthetically-speaking the film had some nice moments.

We suspect now that the people of Asgard is Thor’s number one priority… or at least should be. So it would be interesting to see if this comes to a head with the needs of Avengers ‘work’. Let’s hope any new Thor film will do a bit more to engage the depths of Odinson’s soul and character.

 

RATING: 5 out of 10

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