Hella Awesome: Why Thor: Ragnarok is the Best Marvel Movie of 2017 (Spoiler Warning)

I watched Thor: Ragnarok last Saturday and left the theater thinking this was hands down the best Marvel movie of 2017. This is coming from someone who loved Guardians of the Galaxy 2. I will admit that I haven’t seen Spider-Man Homecoming, as I’m not a big Spider-Man fan. But even if I had seen it, it could not have changed my mind about Thor: Ragnarok.


Now, before I go any further, this review will contain spoilers (as stated in the title). So if you have not yet seen the movie, get thee to a theater!
Ok, with that out of the way. Spoilers in three…two…one…
Starting the movie with your regular dose of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) arrogance, but spruced up with his own humor, was a great way to reintroduce the audience to a character we had not seen in some time. And I don’t mean the humor at Thor’s expense that we had with his first visit to Earth. But Thor actively teasing a Balrog-like fiery god creature, distracting it, and yet still managing to miss the timing of Mjölnir’s entrance. It was a cheeky introduction to the movie’s humor, which had me laughing out loud repeatedly.

 

This movie did well to wrap up items from the previous Thor and Marvel movies. Thor’s relationship with Jane Foster aka the “mutual dumping”, the missing father and King of Asgard, the whereabouts of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) since the battle with Ultron, and the strained brotherly relationship between Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

Speaking of relationships, I wonder if Thor will spend any time mourning the violent murder of all his friends. Poor beardy guy, blond Zachary Levi, and hard-of-hearing Samurai dude. I know their names of course, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to treat them in the same manner as the movie. I can understand it not making any sense to say their names in the quick scene when they die. But Hogun had actual dialog, he couldn’t throw a little shoutout in for his deceased friends? Poor Fandral and Volstagg, you too may be gone but…well actually, you just might be forgotten.

Back to the main story. I thought Cate Blanchett was hella fantastic as Hela, the Goddess of Death. As the main antagonist in the film, Thor faces not just another sibling bent on claiming the throne, but an adversary whose strength is far greater than his own. A being so set on complete domination of the entire universe, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) had no choice but to lock her away. But with his power taken by Loki, Odin can no longer outrun his mortality and his passing unlocks whatever barrier contained Hela, allowing her return to Asgard. While trying to stop Hela from reaching his home, Thor is thrown out of the bifrost along with Loki, out into the unknown reaches of space. Imagine the rainbow road from Mario Kart, and the moment you get hit by a turtle shell and go careening over the edge into space. It was sort of like that.
Speaking of old video games, that is the sort of feel I got from this movie. The music and the color palette reminded me a lot of a retro 80s video game or movie. I’m a big fan of the 80s; the music, movies, and video games. So I could appreciate the nostalgic vibe the movie gave off.
While Hela is literally causing hell for the Asgardians, Thor spends a good while trapped on a garbage planet as a “prisoner with a job” gladiator for The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). The Grandmaster, like many others on the planet, wound up there by falling through a portal and then building himself up to the man in charge. It was through one of these portals that Thor wound up in a junkyard, was captured and delivered to the Grandmaster’s arena, and pitted against the Hulk aka “his friend from work”.
The entire battle sequence between these two Avengers was awesome. Each landed blows that would have destroyed any normal man, alien, or rock creature. The fight does leave you wondering which of the two truly is the strongest Avenger, as their fight is interrupted by a shock to the body of Thor administered by a device in his neck with the Grandmaster’s finger on the button. The fight isn’t the only great part of this whole scene. Throughout the fight, a nervous Loki sits watching everything play out, after Thor was nice enough to remind Hulk of he and Loki’s past encounter. Loki certainly was not looking forward to meeting the Hulk again any time soon, after the last time the Hulk tossed him around like a ragdoll. But it definitely cheers Loki up, the moment that Thor thinks he has won Hulk over and is instead given a taste of the ragdoll treatment. Of course, everything works out after the fight, with Thor spending time in Hulk’s room, having a heart to heart with the big guy. Hulk is after all his favorite, way better than that Banner guy, until later when Banner is back then forget about that Hulk guy. Thor wins over Hulk and convinces his friend to get him an audience with a fellow Asgardian.

 

Here is where it got really interesting and we as the audience get treated to a bit of the Asgard lore. Thor discovers that his captor (the one who delivered him to the Grandmaster) is one of the elite guard of Asgard, a Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). The Valkyries rode atop winged horses and were the first wave of attack against Hela. Thor, who wanted to be a Valkyrie as a child, was filled in on their fate by the last of them. She was saved and somehow wound up on the universe’s planet-sized junkyard, where she quickly found work supplying the Grandmaster with fighters for his arena. Included in her conquests was not just Thor, but the Hulk as well, whose capture I would love to see as a DVD extra. While Thor is busy trying to convince Valkyrie and the Hulk to join team “Revengers”, Hela is busy explaining to her lackey Skurge (Karl Urban) just how Odin was able to get those 9 realms under his control. She does so with a little redecorating of the throne room. What was once a mural of a peaceful Odin and his new family, broke away to reveal a warrior Odin with a mighty horned crown and Hela by his side. She was his executioner until her thirst for complete dominance caused Odin to lock her away. He set aside his ornate crown and covered up every bit of history involving Hela, choosing to rule the realms through treaties and peace.
 
While all this is happening, Heimdall (Idris Elba) is kicking ass and taking names with the bifrost sword, which he stole to keep Hela from jumping to any other realms and effectively trapping her on Asgard. This of course sucked for the Asgardians, but he did his part to protect and hide away as many as he could. He held off Hela’s undead army long enough for Thor to return to Asgard through a portal, on board the Grandmaster’s pleasure cruiser (which they probably should have reconsidered taking, or at least disinfected). And now, for the main event.
Thor takes on Hela, after promising Valkyrie that he wouldn’t die, while Bruce as the Hulk, Heimdall, and Valkyrie take on Hela’s forces to save the Asgardians. An outmatched Thor takes his scrapes, including losing an eye (just like dad), to hold off Hela long enough for another spacecraft to show up. A craft conveniently large enough for all the Asgardians, full of the revolting aliens from the space junk planet who are led by Loki. Loki welcomes his former subjects aboard as their savior and then joins in the fray. Meanwhile, Thor summons his inner strength after a vision of his father reminds him that he isn’t the god of the hammer but the God of Thunder. This allows him to get over the loss of his hammer and wiggle out of Hela’s grasp while she’s lit up like a Christmas tree.
 

 

Now, let me just take a quick moment to discuss Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir, or more importantly the loss of said hammer. Shortly after Hela’s release, Thor aims to take her on in an attempt to send her back to whence she came. Just like in many fights before, Thor relies on his hammer to attack. It’s an action he immediately is taught to regret, when Hela catches it in mid-throw and crushes it as though the hammer was made of clay. With his hammer gone, Thor struggles to come to terms with the loss of not just a weapon but something more akin to a trusted friend. He says as much to one of the other gladiators who he befriends, telling him about the hammer and how it would allow him to fly and fight. This was a poignant moment for Thor, and the audience as well as we see how much the loss of the hammer has affected Thor, especially while he is looking through the weaponry provided to the gladiators. It’s no wonder that Thor finds himself as less of a warrior without it and too weak to fight against Hela. Until the dream chat with dear old dad, which reminds him just what he’s capable of as a god.
Thor’s attack of course does not stop the ever powerful Hela, whose power continues to be drawn from Asgard itself. What is Thor to do but convince Loki to set a plan into motion that even Loki thinks is bold. We are treated to Loki’s amusing stroll through dad’s man cave of trophies, where he eyes the tesseract longingly, but sticks to his brother’s plan.
What plan is that you ask? The old “enemy of my enemy” plan. No wonder Loki was willing to go along with it, as far as Thor’s plans go, this was way better than the humiliating (to Loki) “get help” plan. This plan basically entailed Loki pretending to be injured and then Thor calling for help before chucking him at their unsuspecting target. It sort of helps you understand Loki’s viewpoint a bit more, as to why he didn’t exactly have the best relationship with Thor growing up. But back to the plan at hand. Loki grabs the skull of Surtur (Clancy Brown)–you remember him, fiery guy from the beginning who Thor defeated to keep him from wreaking havoc on Asgard–and tosses said skull into the eternal flame of Asgard. The same eternal flame that Hela used to bring her dead army to life. So I’m sure you can guess what happens from there. Thor meets and defeats Surtur, Thor meets and is defeated by Hela, so Thor resurrects Surtur and introduces him to Hela. The boss battle ensues, while Thor and Valkyrie are scooped up by the Hulk and brought aboard the spacecraft, which departs just in time to see Surtur strike down Hela and all of Asgard implode. The heroes brought about Ragnarok instead of stopping it and in doing so saved Asgard, because Asgard is not a place but a people.
Now I would be remiss, if I did not mention Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his short but helpful role in the film. When Thor first returns home with the skull of Surtur, thinking that he has successfully stopped the Asgardian apocalypse, he discovers that Odin is not quite himself. He witnesses a play about Loki’s death which has been completely over exaggerated to make Loki out to be the selfless hero. It is actually a really great scene, where the play actors are fun cameos of well known actors playing Thor, Loki, and Odin. Actor Thor is played by Luke Hemsworth, Chris Hemsworth’s brother, who makes a very realistically convincing Thor when the blond wig is added. Actor Loki is played by Matt Damon, yes, the Matt Damon. Actor Odin is played by Sam Neill of Jurassic Park fame. But I digress, Loki is forced to reveal himself and returns to Earth with Thor to look for their father. Not too long after their arrival, Loki is snatched and Thor is left with a business card leading to his whereabouts. Thor winds up meeting Doctor Strange and they come to an agreement. Strange helps Thor find his father, if Thor gets Loki back to Asgard as soon as possible. There are some great comedic moments between Strange and Thor, which leaves you hoping they interact again very soon.
 
So there you have it. My review of Thor: Ragnarok. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. What better way to show my absolute love for this movie, then to write a post about it. I truly wish I could go see it again, but I have my eyes set on The Justice League next and then Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But believe me when I say, I enjoyed every aspect of this Thor movie. I went to see it with my mom and she equally enjoyed it. Seated beside me was an elderly grandmother who went to see the movie with her teenage grandson. I’m sure she knew far less about the Marvel Cinematic Universe than I do and yet she laughed at all the same humorous scenes that I did and she was just as invested in these characters as I was. The movie introduced us to two strong female characters in Hela and Valkyrie, clearly on opposite sides of the hero spectrum. The presentation of the movie was fun and colorful and as I mentioned before, gave off a nostalgic vibe to please my inner child with a world of pure imagination (yes, there is a Charlie and the Chocolate reference in the movie).
 
Hats off to director Taika Waititi (who I loved in What We Do in the Shadows) for not only hitting the raised bar of Guardians of the Galaxy 2, but surpassing it with no sweat as the best Marvel movie of 2017. At least in this Marvel fan’s humble opinion.
 

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