“Want to see what true power really looks like?”
“We also need a ship with cupholders because we’re all going to die, so—drinks!”
As a way of explaining the overall tone of Thor: Ragnarok, these two quotes seem well suited. Comedic one-liners go head to head with dramatic attempts at emotional storytelling; tonal twists and turns keep the audience on its proverbial toes. Is this a comedy or a moving account of Thor’s identity crisis? Well, both. At its heart, this is a film that tells a good story and doesn’t take itself too seriously in the meantime.
In fact, the movie explains itself quite succinctly in the first five minutes, as Thor delivers all necessary exposition while dangling in chains over a hellish fire pit. In short: Thor must prevent Ragnarok (i.e. the apocalypse, according to Norse mythology) by protecting his home (Asgard) from both a fiery horned demon and the goddess of death herself. No big deal. Honestly, it seems like just a typical day in the life of this blond-haired, hammer-wielding “god of thunder.”
Until his hammer explodes into iron shards, and this arrogant “god” ends up enslaved to the Nero-like ruler of a trash dump planet. Thor, his long locks shaved like Samson, finds himself fighting as a gladiator against his old friend the Hulk. Suddenly, the battle to save his home takes a back seat to Thor’s fight to save his friend from himself.
And therein lies the heart of the film. What does true power look like? To Hela, the goddess of death, it looks like power over others—manipulation and slavery. To Thor, it is strength born of friendship and love for his people.
Well, at least, that’s what he learns by the end—only after being stripped of his hammer and his title and everything he was counting on to feed his arrogance. But he figures it out eventually, after a full two hours’ worth of exploding space cities and harrowing fist fights and constant witty one-liners. This is, after all, a Marvel movie.
If you’re looking for a film with an intricate storyline, depth of character, and innovative, thought-provoking themes . . . well, perhaps you may find yourself less than satisfied with this one. But if you’re looking for a movie that will keep you guessing from start to finish, if you want to laugh so hard you’re crying, then by all means, head to a theater at the first opportunity. As a solid two hours of fun, this movie does not disappoint. (Marvel Studios)