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Film Review: THOR: RAGNAROK

Marvel Studios
Chris Hemsworth in 'Thor: Ragnarok.'
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Back in the day, when they weren’t concerned with nerd complexities like crossovers and continuity, Marvel would stuff a pair of b-list heroes inexplicably together for a one-off adventure in titles like Marvel Two-In-One or Marvel Team-Up. The stories were quarter-snatching filler for the most part, but it was cool to see disparate creations come together to fight for 22 pulpy pages.

There are actually two movies squeezed into Marvel’s latest offering Thor: Ragnarok. Both of them, like the God of Thunder they showcase, are very stupid, but at least one of them is a return to that four-color team-up fun that makes everything about these stories fun. Unfortunately, the other one is the typical boring Marvel showdown we’ve become accustomed to over the past decade, the special guest baddie vanquished per usual.

In this installment, we find Thor (Chris Hemsworth) trying to stop his sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) from starting the Asgardian version of the apocalypse, Ragnarok, the destruction of his homeworld. But first, we’re given a slight detour to the planet Sakaar where Thor is placed into a gladiatorial ring against none other than the green goliath, the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in a moderately clumsy adaptation of the popular  Planet Hulk storyline.

While it is a lot of fun to see Thor and Hulk pound each other in a battle for the ages on this desolate junk world, it is actually Jeff Goldblum who steals the entire show as the flighty master of ceremonies, the Grandmaster, as well as newcomer Tessa Thompson as the hard-drinking Asgardian warrior Valkyrie. It’s here where Ragnarok fully comes alive in a rainbow’s spectrum of fun and adventure, like a great issue of an old comic you find in the dollar clearance bin.

It’s really too bad we have to leave it and return to Asgard, always the perpetual bummer in every Thor flick, especially when we’re stuck with such a needlessly rote villain like Hela. Blanchett plays her in full camp mode, like a drag queen that didn’t get her cha-cha heels for Christmas, inexplicably hellbent on destroying Thor and his realm, and more power to her. Just hurry up and get it done so we can get on to the next flick.

Taking a cue from the success of the Guardians of the Galaxy films, director Taika Waititi infuses the film will more comedy than any Marvel film before it, almost to a fault. Characters that have spent multiple films building up a sense of emotional gravitas, such as Loki (Tom Hiddleston) or even Bruce Banner himself, are reduced to nothing more than punchlines, killing any true characterization for future films.

The humor also makes Ragnarok is a tonal nightmare, in that regard, the more I think about it. The death of an extremely important character is given absolutely no resonance when its followed up with a dick and fart joke a few minutes later, while, on a grander scale, what should be devastating planetary stakes in any other sci-fi film, are lowered to shoulder shrugging insignificance thanks to the film’s need to basically pull a quick quip out if its ass, lest they be compared to a deadly serious DC Comics film in any looming review.

Here's to hoping that Black Panther gets back down to the nitty-gritty. For real, though.

Extraordinarily stupid but also mandatorily entertaining, for Marvel fans Thor: Ragnarok is already required viewing, a huge bucket of multi-colored chewy candy tailored for both the fanboy and the passive fan. But, sure, it all tastes so good right now, but tell me how it feels later tonight when you’re clutching your guts in sugar-coated pain, mumbling about style over any true substance as you crash in a sucrose-laden slumber. ¡Cómpralo ya!

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Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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