The third solo film from Marvel’s “Thor” franchise is more everything. More fun, more action, and true to Marvel’s other films, more CGI. The only deviance in “Thor: Ragnarok” is the seemingly negligent handling of the universe in which it exists. The result is a refreshingly unorthodox movie that sets itself apart from the redundancy of its fellow films.
Even the early production of “Thor: Ragnarok” was different. Normally, Marvel studio executives seek out accomplished indie film directors to sit in a director’s seat, set in the corner. They are offered loads of money in exchange for creative control. However, director Taika Waititi approached Marvel and somehow successfully pitched his vision for a third installment to the series. In his pitch? Absurdity and Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.”
The film feels lively. It hits the ground running: just a few lines in, and jokes are already being cracked in a bizarre world. Before long, our title-character Thor is fighting dragons and undead armies.
The film is so uncharacteristically funny at times that it risks removing the audience from immersion in Marvel’s Universe – for better or worse. Early cameos from surprising actors and jokes that feel too daring to have passed an executive producer are often disillusioning. On many occasions, the poorly rendered CGI sets feel as though they would have been more convincing left as a green screen.
Nonetheless, the film is unapologetic, to the point of almost flaunting its poor quality. Much like ’80s hair-metal fantasy adventures, the film carries itself with a level of certainty that helps counter-balance – even, complement – what it lacks in production value.
Where the film thrives in particular is in its astonishingly fun characters. Lead actor Chris Hemsworth’s fifth depiction of the God of Thunder finds new depth. No longer just a face, his Thor rises in the ranks of funniest personality in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with a unique naivety and confounding confidence that amplifies his charm throughout the film. Next to Thor are returning characters such as Loki and the Hulk, played by Tom Hiddleston and Mark Ruffalo, respectively, both surprising the audience with a hilarious twist on their character’s conventional portrayal.
Also brightening up the film are a couple new additions: the incredibly talented up-and-comer Tessa Thompson (“Dear White People,” “Creed”) as Valkyrie and the director himself, Waititi, as Korg. The array of new cast and characters breathes a level of individuality into the Thor film, as if this should be the first in a new franchise, apart from the rest.
“Thor: Ragnarok” only suffers as a contribution to the MCU. It has too much of its own personality and style to be considered among the likes of its Avenger counterparts. At one point it even directly pokes fun at an arguably laughable moment from “Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.” The film is too funny and too weird to be assimilated. On its own, “Ragnarok” is an exciting taste of the creative control’s capability, in the hands of a director with a vision.