Superhero movies seem like the only sure things these days. Spiderman: Homecoming was a lone bright spot, along with Wonder Woman, in a slumping summer box office that featured franchise duds such as Transformers: The Last Knight and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. More recent non-superhero titles such as Geostorm and the well-reviewed but financially unsuccessful Blade Runner: 2049 continued this tepid trend. For this reason, many studios likely breathed a sigh of relief when they saw Thor: Ragnarok, and they were right to do so. What they might not have expected, however, is how strong a film Thor: Ragnarok is in itself, regardless of its superhero tag. The excellence of this film doesn’t stem from many of the traditional points that many people look toward when judging a movie. The acting doesn’t blow you away, the story isn’t incredible, and the CGI, while very good, isn’t as revolutionary as a film like Avatar. Rather, the film’s immense strength lies in a simpler category: fun.
The plot o features a family feud that is played out on a universe-ending scale. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his brother/frenemy Loki (Tom Hiddleston) are apprehended by their elder sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) when trying to find their father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Hela desires, as nearly all supervillains do, to take over the universe. Thor has to juggle stopping his older sister from taking over his ancestral home of Asgard and to stop the Ragnarok—a prophecy that states Asgard must be destroyed—from occurring.
Thor has his hands full, but the film does a good job of keeping the plot simple with exponential exposition. It is not necessary to have seen the previous Thor movies to enjoy this one, because the plot is so straightforward. The film’s pace is absolutely frantic, moving the audience from one uproarious spectacle to the next at a dizzying speed. It’s not an impersonal, computer generated techfest, however. Thor: Ragnarok does an excellent job of ensuring that the audience remains engaged with the characters, mixing internal thoughts with brash, outward extravaganza. This striking balance is almost single-handedly accomplished through the film’s use of humor.
Jokes, gags, and one-liners have an unbelievably strong influence in this film. In fact, many have actually taken to labelling it a “comedy-action,” as opposed to the typical “action” tag that the majority of superhero films get. Of course, there have been many films of this type that featured plenty of sharp wit, but none have made their humor as prominent as Thor: Ragnarok. The jokes saturate the movie, appearing in nearly every scene, being dispensed by various different characters. Now, this is obviously very hit or miss. If a film is filled with loads of bad, tasteless, jokes, few people will want to watch it, regardless of how good some other aspects of it may be.
Thankfully, this isn’t the case with Thor: Ragnarok. There really wasn’t a single total dud within the movie, as every piece of humor got at least a mild laugh from the crowd. This is where the film’s status as pure fun comes in. It’s immensely entertaining to sit there, wondering how the writers of the film will weave in some comedy into whatever ridiculous situation Thor or some other character finds themselves in. The audience guesses and predicts what types of jokes might show up, making the actual wit said by the characters even more comedic in contrast to the imagination. It’s so colorful and vibrant, both literally and through its language and dialogue, that one does not experience it as a simple advancement of scenes but rather as a wave of accessible entertainment.
Of course, not everything is perfect. The lack of a more complex plot does hurt the movie when it comes to building a coherent narrative, as it’s often hard to care very much about the structure and overall fate of the story. The jokes are fun, but their prominence and weight within the movie sometimes makes it feel as though the whole film is a series of punchlines. This emphasis on comedy may not sit well with viewers that favor more conservative progression in their films.
Featured Image By Marvel Entertainment