I saw Thor: Ragnarok last weekend and had a fun time. I enjoyed its playful tone and sense of humour. In general, I have found Marvel movies to be formulaic product and the only reason I would go see one is to see actors I enjoy and/or a director who I like. Doctor Strange is a good example of the former and Thor: Ragnarok the latter because I was curious to see what Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows) would do with Marvel. And, like Doctor Strange, I was not disappointed.
First of all, the film is very colourful. Relentless eye candy is how I would describe the bulk of the film as it takes place on Sakkar, a planet-scale garbage dump ruled by Grandmaster, played wonderfully by Jeff Goldblum. That’s his name, by the way, not a title, like “Such-and-Such, the Grandmaster”. He introduces himself with “My name is Grandmaster”, which I found hilarious. The movie does not take itself seriously at all, which is not to say it’s all goofs and gags but it is very light in tone and a fun time for sure.
The film is saturated with an early-80’s feel. I found the sets highly reminiscent of the Buck Rogers tv show that ran from 1979 to 1981 and the music is all frenetic synths and keyboards which made me think it sounded a lot like Devo. Imagine my surprise when I read Mark Mothersbaugh’s name in the credits for the music!
I do have a couple of complaints about the film, however. Although I love Cate Blanchett and enjoyed seeing her on screen as Hella, the Goddess of Death, I didn’t care much for the stuff happening in Asgard and found it all a bit second-rate Lord of the Rings. It also felt a bit nonsensical to have endless melee combat with her when it is said and shown numerous times that she is unbeatable.
My biggest issue with the movie is how they treated Bruce Banner, who has been stuck on Sakkar as the Hulk for two years – a fact he is rightly astonished and concerned about, saying that if Hulk could be in charge for that long then it’s entirely possible that if he changes into Hulk again, he might not be able to change back at all. It’s a very valid point and played well by Mark Ruffalo. Yet at the climax of the film he changes so that he can join the big brawl, despite the fact that he has seven PhD’s and should therefore have been able to figure out some way around it. It’s that over-reliance on violence as a solution and an almost anti-intellectual attitude at the core of Marvel movies that always bothers me.
Setting all that aside, however, I still would recommend the movie as an enjoyable diversion for a couple of hours. Jeff Goldblum always makes things sweeter.