Now, before we get into the major details of the film and the review, there are a couple of things that I MUST mention:
1) The MCU only uses the Norse Mythology as a reference to the creation of the characters, Thor, Loki, and so on and so forth. This is very important for later.
2) This movie, at the time I believe, was supposed to be the last movie before Avengers: Infinity wars. The Avengers' 4th film is supposed to be massively large, and extremely serious. So, instead of a buildup to that in terms of tone and... texture? This movie takes on a more comedic approach to things.
If these points have turned you away from the movie, I advise you to stop reading further, since they did the exact opposite to me.
This movie is set two years after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. We start off the movie with Thor giving an opening monologue, and you notice it isnt in the "ye olde english speake" that you get in Thor 1 and 2. His language seems a lot more informal now. Maybe spending more time on Earth helped?
The film was first sort of introduced to us as a post credit scene in Doctor Strange, where we see the Sorcerer Supreme talking to Thor about his brother and father being on Earth. This was a scene that most movie viewers were looking forward to, especially seeing how Strange would be helping Thor with his situation. Months later, when news was released that Hulk was also going to be in it, excitement grew once more.
The film is actually based off a few events from the comics, and not just one story arc like what they attempted (see: failed) to do with Iron Man 3 (The Extremis Saga) and Captain America: Civil War (The Civil War storyline). Now, those titles were very much misleading in terms of what they were promising us, but Thor became an exception to that.
The title, Ragnarok, talks about the Norse mythology's End of Days, where the world is engulfed in flames, a lot of the gods are killed and the world begins once more. In the original mythos, Midgard (or Earth) was the one that would die. In the movie, they deviate from that a fair bit. And I am thankful for this actually. I mean... they did do a lot of things mentioned in the recipe... just not all of it.
The movie begins with a monologue from Thor about the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and we already start to see the comedic side of Thor that we had begun to see in the aforementioned movie. Then we meet Surtur, and his introductory scene are quite important for two reasons.
One, look at him! Tall fire giant with a flaming sword, looking every bit as amazing as he did in the multiple trailers we saw him in! But the actual thing is that Surtr talks about how Ragnarok is already begun, and that Thor cant stop it.
Two, in the dialogue between Thor and Surtr, we get some key important details. Thor thinks of himself more as a hero now, not a god or a king; Surtr is now officially one of the many... things, for lack of a better word, in the MCU who died and came back; and lastly, The Step By Step Instructions On How To Start Ragnarok; That Odin is no longer on the throne (seems odd, considering the end of Thor 2) and that Thor is also one of the larger causes of Ragnarok (The Poetic and Prose Edda have a different plan for Thor at Ragnarok) (The original "sources" of the Norse Mythology)
After that short exchange, we come to one of the first fight sequences of the movie. Its quite well done, and the song being played in the background is Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song". It follows the recent trend that we see in movies that have more than one enemy attacking the protagonist, rather than one at a time. (Thank god) The choreography was excellent and well executed.
Now, why I mention the song that is being played in the background is this: Immigrant song by Led Zeplin was specifically chosen since its lyrics mention Norse religion. Beyond that, Led Zeppelin is notorious for rarely licensing out their music in films, television or even games, so the fact that they allowed the song for this film is quite remarkable.
A key feature in this is that the title is "Loki of Asgard", not Jotunhiem, like it was said by Loki in The Dark World. A key difference in the mindset of Loki compared to his previous appearances.
The next major event is the one that most moviegoers were looking forward to since Doctor Strange, and that was the involvement of Doctor Strange. This part was a bit of a disappointment personally. While the entire segment was humourous, it felt more like an over glorified cameo more than anything else. It wasnt what most viewers were expecting. The scene moves really fast, and this trend seems to follow through in the remaining part of the film as well.
From here on, mostly spoiler events come up, so I wont be discussing it scene by scene, but I MUST bring up the other 3 things that I feel make this movie a must watch.
1) When Thor is entering the Contest of Champions in Sakarr, the music that is played in the background is "Pure Imagination" from the original Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie with Gene Wilder. That movie was released in 1971 and its music is used in the middle of space, in 2017, not to show a sense of wonder like it did with the original movie, but to make things incredibly uncomfortable and strange.
For anyone interested, the original music is here:
2) The fight between Thor and Hulk:
Now we've all seen this in the trailers that have come out, and theres not really not a lot to say about it, except that you need to see it since its the first time we see Thor as the God of Thunder. We dont see ANY indication of his powers besides his use of Mjolnr in the first two films, and all the Avengers movies, till now.
3) Loki and the Grand-Master.
I will talk about both characters soon, but the performances of both of them just outshine everyone else in the scene they're with.
The movie is quite well made, directed and produced, if with a few glaring flaws. It serves two purposes, visibly. One to set up the events of Infinity Wars, and the second to work as a soft revamping of the Thor franchise. This movie takes and breaks apart the golden world of Asgard and now its forced to build anew for the future. It spoke about the infinity stones at the beginning, but then thankfully went off into its main plot. The movie is a comedy action film, that deals with the End of Days. Thats the main summary of the movie.
- The direction and casting of this movie was brilliant. It was near flawless. According to the director, a lot of the scenes were ad-libbed or improvised (saying that about 80% of it was), and this just made the entire thing more enjoyable to watch. The humour was a nice touch, as it did downplay the more serious moments when needed, to avoid getting too heavy.
- The setting. With the Thor franchise, you get beautiful scenery and location shots that you dont in any of the other MCU movies, that lend it a sort of ethereal quality, and drives home that this isnt a movie about Earth as such, or about Humans. Every scene with the Bifrost bridge, every location shot of Asgard and the other nine realms that we see.
However with this one, we get a similar treatment, but with a different tone to it altogether, as seen with the entire setting of the planet Sakaar. We also see new regions of Asgard itself in this film.
- Thor: God of Thunder. Till now, I have always liked Thor, but he always seemed... lacking in the appearances of a god, especially one who is so important in Norse Mythology. This one time, we see him as the god of lightning and thunder.
Here. The thing is that considering that Thor was created in the comics to combat the Hulk, and as the strongest Avenger, we never really saw much of his fighting in any of the films. In the first film, it was minor skirmishes, and the scene with the Destroyer felt... meh. Similar thing with the second movie, and in Avengers. (Age of Ultron's Tripple Ka-me-ha-me-ha blast doesnt count at all).
But here, we see the power that is the God of Thunder. THIS is someone I can believe will be the cause of Ragnarok!
We saw Thor going god-mode in the trailers a few times, and it is worth watching those scenes in full. Where you see Thor no longer holding his punches and fighting back and matching the Hulk for his immeasurable strength.
- The Grandmaster
This guy is played by Jeff Goldblum, and he does an incredible job of just bringing out the creepiness inherent in this character. Just the way you have an immortal who has a total disregard for life, and still makes the moments funny.
That face. I dont think anyone would have been able to pull it off like he did. It even creeped out Loki.
The Grandmaster is an immortal who is one of the strongest beings in the known universe (at least his race is known to be).
From his introduction itself, you have a sensation that something is wrong, when you see him. The acting and the character in itself is incredible.
He's come a long way since the ending of the second Thor movie's ending.
Here, we see Loki as being acknowledged by his family finally. Odin says that he was proud of him (whatever be the circumstances), and Thor himself tells Loki that he thought the world of him. Hes also had a time to be Asgard's ruler, and has had to spend weeks with the Grandmaster, which couldnt have been a pleasant experience for him to acknowledge someone with more power than him.
Hes gone from embodying "Chaotic Evil" to "True Chaos" and parts of "Chaotic good" in this one. He fights Hela, and stands for Asgard, and even takes on a more traditional approach to Ragnarok (but him and Hiemdal dont die).
There is a LOT of character development for him since the beginning. I mentioned earlier about how he said that he was from Asgard, and not from Jotunhiem, in the play? Further proof of that.
Unfortunately, he didnt get to go "god-mode" like Thor and Hela do, but theres always next time.
- The accurate portrayal of a sibling relationship.
Now. I am an only child, but I've seen enough sibling behaviour to see the way Thor and Loki, and even Hela interacting with each other is essentially spot on.
I dont wanna list out all of it, cos someone on Tumblr already did, and for your viewing benefit,
- The pacing of the movie. The scenes in this moved too fast personally, and it felt like it was kinda rushing through a lot. This is seen especially in the scenes with Odin, with Strange, and even in the background scenes of Hela on Asgard.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you The God of Lightning and Thunder himself. Somehow, somehow, he has managed to get taken out by electricity a grand total of seven, so far, since his introduction in Thor 1. In this movie alone, he has been electrocuted a good 6 times.
In fact, lets do a small count down.1: When Darcy tasered him (but that was when he was depowered and exiled)2: A net fired at him when he landed on Sakaar3: Stopped by Valkyrie upon his capture4: Again, by Valkyrie, in the space craft to the prison5: Third time with Valkyrie, in front of the Grandmaster6: Valkyrie. Again… For Thor calling her a traitor/coward7: Grandmaster. WHEN Worldbreaker Thor. Goddamnnit… I give up... I honestly do...
- The Doctor Strange appearance and disappearance. He showed up in the movie about a total of Three Minutes and Thirty Five Seconds. The entire scene was rushed, and it just... it was sloppy, and it really felt like a glorified cameo more than anything else. It was a nice idea to do a post credit scene at the end of Doctor Strange, but then at least give the guy some more screen time.
- The Humour! A lot of people have mentioned that the humour, while great, was too much and too often, stating, "sometimes you'd end up not having enough time to prime yourself for the next joke, so that would fall flat". I agree with this. Coupled with the pacing issue that we see, this actually makes the movie feel less like its telling a joke, and more like it has its family at gunpoint and the only way to save them is to finish their standup gig.
- The trailers being a deliberate misdirect. All I'm gonna say here is that we never properly saw the conclusion to the fight between the Hulk and the massive fire giant that we saw in the trailers. I WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO THAT!
Overall, I loved the movie, and feel like it is a good way to wind up before the events of Infinity Wars. Of course, Black Panther starts in a few days, so lets see.
It is and always will be fun to see Chris Hemsworth as Thor, and Tom Hiddleston as Loki. It IS disappointing that we wont be seeing many actors come for the later movies, for fairly obvious reasons.
Hope you enjoy watching it. :)