Thor Ragnarok was a very pleasant surprise, especially since Thor the Dark World was such a snooze fest. This one is a crazy doomsday sci-fi comedy that doesn’t take itself seriously at all. My kind of movie! Let’s examine it a little closer!
For starters, the opening scenes of Thor Ragnarok were accompanied by the magnificent music of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song. To understand the full genius of the inclusion of this song we have to go back to its origins. Led Zeppelin kicked off their 1970 European tour in Reykjavik, Iceland. In an interview they explained to be so inspired by the culture and country that they wrote Immigrant song.
The song is written from the perspective of Vikings sailing westwards from Scandinavia and discovering new lands, maybe Iceland. The raw and speedy song matches Thor’s hammer and has guitar riffs that seem to echo galloping horses. It’s heavily based on Norse Mythology and emanates the battle cries of invading Vikings.
Take a look at these lyrics:
‘The hammer of the gods
Will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying,
Valhalla, I am coming!”
Valhalla, is a special heaven, a giant hall in Asgard reserved for those who died in battle, and ruled over by Odin. Dying in battle was seen as the greatest honor in Viking lore. In fact some were so afraid of dying a natural death that they asked to speared on their deathbed.
The crazy feels
This sentiment also explains the spirit of this movie. At first glance you might wonder why all characters seem to take things so lightly while there’s a
certain impending doom. But in the true Viking spirit, that is actually pretty logical. It’s the most honourable way to spend your Viking life. Better to die trying, ‘singing and crying’ as the song said. And after death, looking forward to ascend to the very best department of heaven that Viking lore had to offer. With that in mind, it’s not so strange that the characters in this movie keep throwing themselves in dangerous situations, that could easily kill them.
Having said that, it’s quite incredible that they managed to transform all of that into a scifi-comedy. A mix of genres that I hadn’t really seen before. It is mesmerizing to me with its space setting, 80s and 90s references, amazing synth music and super funny as well. It reminds me of the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies, two of my favourites.
Back to Thor. Scripting comedy is one thing, but it’s still a question of great acting and timing to really make it funny. Director Taika Waititi is primarily a comedy director who is said to let actors improvise about 80% of his movies. This is one of the reasons I believe this movie is so funny: we can tell the actors are having a blast.
Let’s diagnose the characters. Marvel has done a perfect job with their casting, and this movie is no exception. I cannot think of a better person to play the god of thunder. A god character could easily end up like an arrogant stubborn guy, but we already have a few of those in the MCU: Iron man and Dr.Strange. Or a goodie two shoes like Captain America. Not to mention: the character of Thor is in itself quite lame, but Christ Hemsworth makes him very likeable, funny and totally disarming. He’s often at the mercy of all sorts of shit. I can’t even count how many times he got shocked and electrified in these movies.
But he is down to earth and manages to still be upbeat even though he’s going through a pretty Shakespearean bout of drama. – Spoiler alert – He’s surrounded by death, betrayal and sadness. His father, mother and brother all die – his hammer is shattered, he loses an eye and there’s suddenly an evil sister who’s destroying the whole universe.
His humor doesn’t come from some bitter coping mechanism, but seems to emerge from a more naïve and almost childish attitude. He’s not actually trying to be funny, but the way that he talks and acts, makes him funny to us as viewers. He seems to be quite oblivious to it himself. He’s almost like a prepubescent teen. Making commentary on the world completely unaware of the innuendos in his words. He possesses an endearing childish enthusiasm and wears his heart on his sleeve. This only adds to his fish-out-of-water quality, that we already saw in the other Thor movies too. Take for instance the scene where he meets the Hulk again as his opponent in the arena. Easily the funniest line in the trailer: ‘YES! I know him! He’s a friend from work!’
Matchin the director’s spontaneous style this line wasn’t scripted. In an interview Hemsworth said that one day a child from the Make a Wish Foundation visited the set – a foundation that grants wishes of gravely ill children. And while shooting the child suggested this line. Just another reason this movie is really awesome.
A match made in… Asgard
Thor’s naïve and fish-out-of-water attitude is an excellent match for the Hulk’s emotional immaturity. They are quite similar when you think about it. They’re both insanely strong, charismatic and at times terribly awkward. Both are missing a certain social sophistication.
In fact the Hulk is so strong that directors have been pretty clever about where to include him. They had to exclude him from the battle in Civil War, cause he would have easily ended it with a single smash of his fists. And there’s also a thingy with the rights to the Hulk, they are owned by Universal. So, they cannot make a stand alone movie for the Hulk, but they obviously still want to please his fans.
As I was saying in previous reviews, the Marvel Universe starts out with a pretty lame and generic bunch of villains. But with time they are finally starting to get better. Hella, who’s the previously unknown sister of Thor and Odin is a pretty bad ass villain – the goddess of death. It’s not that story wise she is so original, but she is just incredibly powerful AND she’s played by Cate Blanchet. An acting powerhouse known for a wild diversity of movies. We already briefly saw her intimidating evil side as Galadriel, turning evil in Lord of the Rings. So when I heard she was going to be Hella I couldn’t wait to see it.
She isn’t your typical superhero actress, but her main reasons for taking this role are pretty telling. In an interview she said it was because of the director and that she would be able to play the goddess of death. Also she remarked that there’d never been a female Marvel villain. But the reason she even considered the role is because her children introduced her to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Obviously she had a complete blast playing the evil sister. And she is accompanied by Karl Urban as Skurge. Who also happens to be a Lord of the Rings graduate – there’s a lot of them in there. Just take a look at this list.
In this movie he plays a typical opportunist, picking sides when they favour him. But all through the story it’s obvious that his choices trouble him. He’s not really evil, so being Hella’s sidekick takes its toll on him and he redeems himself in the end. I think they could have given him a little more screentime to deepen his role, but he still has an interesting part.
Catching up with Strange
I like how they interwove all the different Marvel characters in this movie, not just the Hulk but also Dr. Strange. When Thor visits earth, Dr. Strange is already an established name there and not at all pleased that some Viking gods have come to rummage around the earth.
If I had a hammer
I also enjoyed seeing that Thor’s power is not just in the hammer. In the first movies we get the idea that the hammer is all, and otherwise he’s just quite a dorky god. But we discover, along with himself that there’s still massive power within him, when he loses the hammer. Eventhough he loses an eye, he is a powerhouse. And again here the Immigrants song theme fits him very well.
All in all this movie was a huge and very funny surprise to me, thanks to the amazing comedic director, spontaneous acting powerhouses and Vikings in space theme with an 80s ring to it. It knocked me out of my socks, i found it gorgeous looking and I laughed through the whole movie. My final verdict is for this movie is: 9/10 stars!