Marvel can safely be said to be the most successful comic book brand to make the move to movies. DC and Marvel the two main adversaries in the field have long been in a war with the various collections of superheroes and up until the Avengers, DC could be said to have been winning the feature film battle with Superman and Batman movies performing well.
Avengers and the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a timeline of releases from across their IP to create a roadmap leading to the events of the current Avengers films and the appearance of Thanos has blasted DC out of the water.
Thor: Ragnarok is the third movie to focus on the Norse God of Thunder, and this outing is far better than the previous two. Thor was entertaining but had much to establish and although Loki provided excellent service in the second movie it lacked something.
Thor: Ragnarok really puts our hero through the ringer and forces him to become the leader he could be. Chris Hemsworth inhabits the character with a mischievous ease and his repartee with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is endearing and funny. It is the humour of this film that elevates it above some of the others, it is more like Guardians of the Galaxy in tone than say the earlier movies.
We get a witty Loki, a wisecracking over confident Thor, a fascinating Gamesmaster (A sensational Jeff Goldblum) and a rock monster with a New Zealand accent. Taken in isolation this seems unworkable in a serious film but it works. The film is very dark in tone and much of the humour is verbal, the dialogue between characters is excellent and helps make the film manageable.
With Cate Blanchett as the Goddess of Death, death is very much at the forefront of the story as many who know Norse mythology will have guessed from the title itself. Were it not for the humour this could have been a very turgid and depressing film, instead, it was engaging and enjoyable.
The action set pieces were good and not too overwhelming as I sometimes find them. The fight against Ultron in Segovia in the second Avengers film was too much, there was so much CGI at such pace that at times it all got a little too much follow. Ragnarok had less of this which allowed the casual viewer as well as the fan a chance to keep up and follow the narrative.
The addition of the Hulk into the film helped tie the overall Marvel story together and explained his absence at the end of the last Avengers film and his place in Avengers – Infinity War. The Hulk itself wasn’t particularly well CGI’d but it was interesting to see a change in the Hulk/Banner dynamic.
The film was lifted as always by a stellar cast and clever use of cameos, we got Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr Strange to provide backstory, Cate Blanchett made a convincing villain and we saw the return of Anthony Hopkins as Odin, an actor whom I could watch for hours. As per usual, Stan Lee made his accustomed cameo as a crazed hairdresser. It also says something about Marvel that they can get such great actors to take part, Idris Elba reprises his role as Heimdall, Karl Urban makes his mark as Scourge and how many films can boast Sam Neill and Matt Damon as blink and you’ll miss it bit part actors in one of Loki’s plays alongside Chris’s other actor brother, Luke Hemsworth.
In all the film was an enjoyable romp that kept the pace of the story moving throughout its 125-minute runtime. It is well worth a view either as part of the Marvel Universe sequence or as the final part of a Thor Trilogy.
Into the Nebula Score: 8/10