Whether intentional or not, Thor: Ragnarok is a delightfully funny spoof of the superhero genre. Director Taika Waititi may or may not have been simply trying to lighten things up a bit, but what he delivered looked like the product of Adam West’s Batman and Don Adam’s Get Smart having a fling with Monty Python (including a brief “I’m not dead yet” gag). And I mean this in a good way.
The silly tone is set immediately with the opening sequence, and there’s a huge supporting cast of weird characters to keep the laughs going. Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) is the last surviving Valkyrie bent on consuming as much alcohol as she possibly can (and it’s a LOT). She reluctantly helps Thor (Chris Hemsworth) try to reclaim Asgard from his big sister Hela (Cate Blanchett).
Korg (Taika Waititi pulling double-duty) is an Australian rock guy/gladiator/revolutionary. And by rock guy, I mean he’s made out of rocks. He’s the film’s Swiss army knife for exposition and plot devices. Anthony Hopkins and Jeff Goldblum are credited as Odin and Grandmaster, respectively, but mostly just play themselves. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and the Hulk get their Mel Brooks on and play pretty big roles. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is alternately useful and treacherous like he always is. And, since it’s a Marvel movie, Stan Lee makes his obligatory cameo.
The CGI is applied with a very heavy hand, and is pretty obviously CGI for the most part. This would be a detriment to a more serious film, but it adds to the cartoony vibe in this case. If you liked the Burly Brawl from The Matrix Reloaded, you get to see it reenacted several times in Thor: Ragnarok with the added bonus of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” playing over the bloodless carnage.
My apologies to everyone in the theater, but I couldn’t help hysterically laughing loud and long as an instrumental arrangement of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory played over an amateurish (intentionally?) CGI travelogue/introduction to the Grandmaster’s gladiator planet.
The plot couldn’t be more formulaic. Hela shows up, kicks Thor’s butt, and takes over. Thor goes through his hero’s journey, levels up, learns a valuable life lesson (repeated several times in case you missed it the first time), and eventually pulls a gimmick out of his butt in the big climactic confrontation. It’s okay for this movie, though, because the thin plot is really only a framework to hang the jokes on.
The film does drag in a few places when it tries to get more serious, but, fortunately, these moments are brief and infrequent. If you take your superhero movies even a little bit seriously, you might want to skip this one. But if you’re in the mood to just escape for a couple hours of silly fun and have some good laughs, you should definitely give Thor: Ragnarok a look.
Overall rating: 7.5/10