Thor: RagnaRocked

Since Thor joined the extended Marvel universe in 2011, it has been a dark stain in an otherwise fun and action packed set of movies. Taika Waititi’s newest installment, Thor: Ragnarok, attempts to ameliorate the past sins of the franchise. Now brighter and wittier than ever, Thor joins his MCU counterparts on the comedic and artistic plane audiences have come to expect from Marvel movies. The movie slightly falters in the beginning; too many characters, plot points, and possible villains are introduced in the first half hour, leaving the audience feeling numb and overwhelmed. Many emotional points, the death of a father and introduction of an estranged sister, for example, are glossed over and sped through in order to initiate battles that merely fulfill the necessary violence quota of superhero franchises.

However rushed the beginning feels, the film quickly gains a strong footing. Straight from the beginning, the audience realizes that this is not the Thor we used to know and tolerate. A new short haircut and the loss of his iconic hammer marks a clean slate for the hero. This new and improved Thor defies all expectations, becoming as quick witted and lovable as the other characters in the Marvel cannon. The boisterous gladiator-esque fight perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the film, with the God of Thunder giddily exclaiming his glee at seeing his “friend from work.” Initiating a quick catch up session in the middle of a colosseum is hilarious enough, but Thor trying to talk the Hulk down while in the middle of a fight takes the cake.

The all-star cast elevates an already incredible film. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki finally becomes the God of Mischief he was intended to be, instead of the evil, angsty conqueror he portrayed in the first few films. The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) is essentially Goldblum playing himself in a gold robe, however his humor is much appreciated and helps to build the world of the trash-filled scavenger planet Sakaar. New team member, a Valkyrie named Brunnhilde (Tessa Thompson), is a strong willed, alcohol-inclined bounty hunter who is running from a traumatic past that makes her reluctant to join the team. After coming to terms with her past and joining Thor and the Hulk, she plays an instrumental role in defeating the Goddess of Death; Hela. Hela (Cate Blanchett) is the vicious, scorned daughter of Odin, who was banished after insisting that Odin conquer more than Asgard’s nine realms of the universe. Insistent on getting revenge on her father and brothers, and taking over the kingdom that is rightfully hers, Hela begins a conquest of her former home, with sights set on taking over much of the universe. One of the most surprising and delightful characters in the whole movie is one of Thor’s fellow gladiators –  Korg. Korg, along with his friend and fellow prisoner Miek, brings a much need comedic break to the idea of being imprisoned and forced to fight. The soft-spoken dynamic duo have an unexpected air of politeness and frankness, while leading a successful revolt with the prisoners against the Grandmaster.

The ragtag band of warriors valiantly fight a seemingly unwinnable battle against Hela. The only way to defeat Hela is to start Ragnarok, or the fall of Asgard. The brothers make the difficult decision to destroy their home planet, however that decision becomes an easy one after they realize that Asgard is not a place or a kingdom, but it is a people. Ragnarok is started and fire consumes the planet and Hela. The franchise suffered long enough, and even though Asgard is up in flames, the film ends on a somewhat happy note, Asgard will live on in its people and in their hearts. In any other film that ending would be too sappy and mawkish, but Thor: Ragnarok pulls this ending off splendidly. The ending is touching and sentimental without being excessively preachy.

Waititi breathes new life into this long forgotten and forsaken franchise. The film leans into the sheer absurdity of all-powerful gods squabbling amongst themselves and creates an innately human story that everyone can enjoy. The holiday weekend would not be complete without a superhero blockbuster, but this time, audiences are treated to a vibrant, hilarious, and genuine story that the whole family can enjoy.