November 4th, 2017

One of the few perks about being overseas in Asia is that one gets to see movies 12 or more hours before audiences in America (and at least here in Mongolia, a matinee price of ~$2.50US for a 3D movie doesn’t hurt either!). So here is my very early two-minute review of Thor: Ragnarok…

As one suspects from the trailer, the movie is full of humor and very seldom takes itself seriously. It’s definitely the funniest of the Marvel franchise thus far, more than the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies combined. If the Avengers movies could be described as action with a heavy undertone of humor, Thor Ragnarok would be the other way around. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of action, because there IS a lot of that; rather the humor was so constant it felt more like a comedy film with a lot of action mixed in. At several points (particularly the parts set in Sakaar) the movie more than anything reminded me of the 1980 “Flash Gordon” film, only much funnier and not as campy. The 80’s feel of the film was reinforced by the score which included a lot of synthesizer music.

As for the actors, Chris Hemsworth’s comedic side that he showed in the “Ghostbusters” reboot and the “Team Thor” shorts is out in full force for this movie, and it makes his character SO much more interesting than in the first two Thor films or the Avengers films. And for you guys trying to convince your lady to make this your date night movie, Chris Hemsworth DOES have a rather excessive shirtless scene. Jeff Goldblum was certainly not wasted as the Grandmaster in this film… sure he had a lot of funny lines and moments, but I’d say it was the whole of his performance and character more than any one line or moment that made it a treat (now for the hardcore Marvel nerds out there this version of the Grandmaster is hardly true to the comics from what little I remember… but given the kind of movie this is, Goldblum’s approach works wonderfully). Tom Hiddleston (Loki) and Tessa Thompson (the Valkyrie) do an impressive job (comedic and dramatic) and thankfully are given more than token roles in this film. And even though Karl Urban as Skurge doesn’t have a huge amount of screen time (sadly) than the rest, his presence added to the movie as well (IMHO the highlight was early in the movie with his initial appearance at the Bifrost Bridge). Benedict Cumberbatch’s brief Doctor Strange appearance is much more of a cameo than a critical plot element, but I suppose it did add more opportunities for Hemsworth and the film’s director to keep the humor going.

To be honest I know very little of the director, Taika Waititi, but judging from the results one has to think this film was extraordinarily fortunate to have him. This film definitely seems to be a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, and I’m willing to bet much of that is due to him. Now I suppose one could argue that the comedy-saturated nature of the movie takes away from the seriousness of the threat of Asgardian extinction, and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree. But the director had an obviously audacious vision, took some risks, and made it work incredibly well, so I am more that willing to overlook that little compromise.

So my rating? A very solid “Worth putting on pants and leaving the house” rating; the second highest rating I have, and that’s only because I’m very stingy about giving out my highest rating. Heck, I’ll even say “Worth putting on nice pants”… which is saying something, given what’s often spilled and stuck on those movie theater seats.

NBNW Movie Ratings System

1) “Shut up and take my money!”
I would happily pay full price to see it, even worth braving a packed theater on opening day. Not a rating I give lightly. (Examples: Deadpool; Ghostbusters (the original one); Empire Strikes Back; the first Matrix movie.)

2) “Worth putting on pants and leaving the house.”
I would pay full price at the theater under normal conditions, i.e. when the theater is not fully packed. (Examples: Logan; Spiderman Homecoming; most of the Star Wars movies; the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films.)

3) “I dunno… is there a matinee?”
I might make time to see it at a reduced price at an early showing or bargain theater (Examples: X-Men Apocalypse; Alien Covenant; the recent live-action Ghost in the Shell movie).

4) “Meh.”
I’ll take the opportunity to see it free on cable or a plane trip, and in some cases MIGHT be willing to pay two or three bucks to rent it or see it on-demand (Examples: the Ghostbusters reboot; most Transformers movies; 0.5% of SyFy Channel-produced movies).

5) “Better than being at work… barely.”
If it’s free and I have nothing better to do, I MIGHT watch it. (Examples: Batman v Superman; 49.5% of SyFy Channel-produced movies.)

6) “I’d rather be at work.”
If I was forced to choose between losing a leg or watching the movie, I’d have to think about it. (Examples: the Fantastic Four reboot; Battlefield Earth; the remaining half of the SyFy Channel-produced movies.)

7) “Take the leg.”
In context of the rating above, it’s pretty self explanatory. (Examples: Manos the Hands of Fate- the original, non-MST3K enhanced version.)