Director Taika Waititi attempts to graft the tone of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies onto Thor : Ragnarok but it’s all painfully superficial.
Whereas the GoTG movies had characterisation, high stakes and heartfelt themes, Ragnarok is a loose collection of slapstick, inane jokes, goofy accents, gaping plot holes and amateurish CGI.
Whilst it’s true that light-hearted comedic moments are part and parcel of MCU films, the jokes on Ragnarok were frankly over the top and got in the way of the storytelling. In fact, we would submit that the comedy was necessary to mask the fact that Ragnarok had a very weak story.
The opening scene where Thor has been captured by the fire demon Surtur (which comes with no explanation whatsoever) has no dramatic resonance, with Waititi setting the tone with Thor cracking jokes at the demon non-stop. Which is particularly jarring as this is somewhat uncharacteristic of the MCU Thor, as presented thus far in two previous movies.
From then on, that flippant tone is relentless. The film tries to get a little bit serious as Odin ‘dies’ and Hela is released, quite out of the blue.
Except that her character has been retconned for the MCU – she is now Odin’s daughter, the Goddess of Death and was instrumental in Asgard’s ascendency but subsequently imprisoned by Odin for reasons inadequately explained.
Despite Cate Blanchett’s best efforts, Hela is a cypher, the stereotypical bitch from hell, who just wants to destroy everything for no reason whatsoever.
In their first encounter, Hela easily defeats Thor (the hammer Mjolnir is destroyed!) and Loki and both end up – rather conveniently – on Sakaar, where the Grandmaster (the brother of GoTG‘s Collector) is hammed up to maximum effect by Jeff Goldblum.
On Sakaar, they encounter the Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). While the former never gets to do more than smash, the latter is given a fake English accent, an unsatisfactory connection to Hela and saddled with an attempt at a PTSD background.
Inevitably, everybody ends up on Asgard again where Hela tries to get from Heimdall the Bifrost sword to invade the other eight realms. Hela now has Skurge, a zombie army (oh for fuck’s sake!) and the Fenris Wolf on her side.
Thor is no match for Hela again but somehow is possessed of new powers (simply by thinking of Odin – how the hell does that work?). Even then, Hela is unstoppable – is it because she’s the older sister, as both Thor and Hela are said to draw their powers from Asgard? Who knows?
In any case, Thor and Loki realise the only way to stop Hela is to destroy Asgard itself (say what?!) and they do so by summoning Surtur (!) and thus fulfil the prophecy of Ragnarok. It all makes zero sense but hey, it’s a superhero movie, so as long as it’s funny, who the fuck cares about the story?!?!?!?!?
At the end, we didn’t care about the characters or the plot – the movie was made just for the laughs, of which there were plenty – and unlike GoTG there are no emotional moments we could treasure.
We certainly hope that this is the last Thor movie ever made. We have fond memories of Thor comic book stories especially when created by Jack Kirby or Walt Simonson but thus far the MCU Thor has been a travesty.
Thor : Ragnarok is in cinemas now.
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