“Thor: Ragnarok”: a mix of thunderous gods and silly humor

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Editor’s Note: The grading system used here is similar to the 10-point scale used in SDSU courses. 

GRADE: B-

Thor has always been a strange character for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

His first appearance in the Marvel films came in 2011, when his origin story was fleshed out at the start of the current comic book craze. But from the beginning, his story was hard to define. A witty drama about a Norse god/superhero set in modern times with some sci-fi thrown in?

This difficulty in defining the character and his story carried through to the 2013 sequel, “Thor: The Dark World,” considered by many fans of the MCU to be the weakest film in the franchise.

But in 2015, another Chris Hemsworth film came out that changed the way audiences, and especially Marvel, saw the actor.

“Vacation” was failed reboot of the “National Lampoon’s Vacation” film series, but through it, a comedy star was born. Hemsworth’s supporting role was noted as the best thing about the film. Again in 2016, Hemsworth was seen as a standout in the reboot of “Ghostbusters.”

Obviously, the gears were turning in the minds of those at Disney/Marvel because this latest “Thor” film has been turned into an out-an-out comedy. This is arguably what “Thor” was supposed to be all along.

But where this film fails is its overuse of comedy. Some of the storylines threaded into this film present deep, emotional consequences for the characters. The threats, including the villain, are treated with a lack of seriousness, undercutting the impact that they could’ve had. This all makes sense, considering the writers for the film previously came from Marvel animation, where almost nothing is taken seriously.

In the director’s chair is up-and-coming Taiko Waititi. The film made over $123 million in its opening weekend in the US, drastically over-performing any film the director had created previously. These were largely indie comedies like “What We Do in the Shadows.” Waititi was selected up for “Ragnarok” after his success with critics.

Waititi does a serviceable job commanding the film, but does falter in allowing the comedic aspects of the film cloud its emotion. But he makes excellent use of the 3D being utilized in the film, especially in regards to color. This was one of the most visually colorful experiences that I’ve ever had, and I’ve gone to several Gay Pride parades, so that’s saying something.

The action sequences in the film are standard for what Marvel has been able to achieve, slightly undercut by an obvious use of green screen in several scenes. But overall, the film is as exciting as the trailer make it out to be.

Hemsworth, of course, does an excellent job in the lead role, creating great chemistry with Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, who has a great supporting role within the film. Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, a former Asgardian fighter, and Cate Blanchett as Hela, the goddess of death, stand out in this film and add great female characters to the MCU

In all, “Ragnarok” provides a fun trip to the theater. It’s perfect for an outing with friends and never fails to deliver on the laughs, just don’t expect to learn anything new about the MCU formula.

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