Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
ALL MARVEL MOVIES MUST BE PG-13, SO SAYETH KEVIN FEIGE...I assume. Lauren and I had a debate about whether the movie is appropriate for kids and we were kind of up in the air. Like, it's tonally a very silly movie that is probably really great for kids. But there are some really dirty and uncomfortable jokes in here. Also, there's some solid gore that would mess my kid up. PG-13 is probably pretty accurate.
DIRECTOR: Taika Waititi
They did it! They finally did it! They used the music from the trailer that everyone liked in the movie. Not only that, but they did it twice. Man, I can't believe I'm applauding that right now, but I really dug the trailer music. If I can get this guy done in a timely fashion, the review should be coming out about the same time as our podcast about Thor: Ragnarok. If you really want the whole scoop, along with some other running commentary, feel free to check out our other page, literallyanything.net. I have to say that I was really jazzed to see this movie. The trailer was one of the greatest Marvel trailers ever. When I was younger, I used to be the guy who would wait half a day to download a QuickTime trailer and then I would watch it frame-by-frame to see what was happening. Then the Golden Age of Nerdom started happening and now there's an awesome trailer every other day. On top of that, I learned to stop trying to spoil movies for myself. But that poor The World Is Not Enough trailer. Geez, it got watched way too much.
With maybe the exception of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, this might be the funniest Marvel movie. It is so much fun. I'm going to go somewhat SPOILERY, so here's your warning. The tone is established in the first shot. A few days ago, I posted my review for What We Do in the Shadows review and I got really jazzed about Taika Waititi. I have a very special appreciation for what this guy does. He's funny, regardless of genre. I like that a lot. I compared Waititi to Christopher Guest and I kind of thought that's what he was. I thought he was the new Christopher Guest, but he really isn't. Rather, he has an amazing understanding of his audience without losing his personality in the mix. That's pretty impressive. This movie looks like a Marvel movie. I took a shot from the Valkyrie flashback to show that he knows how to handle a camera and visual effects, but he never really stops being himself. On top of that, he doesn't really sacrifice the story for the sake of a joke. He gets close at some points, but he strikes the right balance between the narrative and the joke. I think that's what makes the Marvel movies great. Iron Man was fundamentally a funny movie. Mr. Henson informed me that much of the movie was improvised and my mind is blown, but that established the world of the MCU. (Technically, I just wrote "that established the world of the universe." And people say I'm a good writer.) I could spiral into a whole diatribe why taking comedy out of the DCEU is its greatest hindrance, but that is just chumming the fanboy waters. I love that Marvel movies make be belly laugh unironically. But then I also have to be somewhat critical of this as well. I don't want the Marvel movies to take themselves too seriously, but I also must address the thing that made The Lego Batman Movie slightly imperfect. When a movie gets too goofy, is it really being true to the things that came before. Most people don't have a love for the previous Thor movies. I liked the first one a lot. I don't mind the second one. (I'm going to rewatch both, guys. I give myself weird projects for the podcast.) Along with the first two Avengers movies, the character of Thor has been well established. Then there were the special features nicknamed "Team: Thor". I loved these because they were hilarious. But it also was implied that these weren't really canon. They were just Chris Helmsworth and Waititi being goofballs. But that's the version of Thor that exists now. Why is he so different than he was before? There were moments where Thor was silly, but that was more along the lines of his "fish out of water" situation. Now, he's full on goofy. That ball bouncing off the glass didn't seem like his character in the first movie at all. That's odd to me. That said, I'd take a dozen Thor: Ragnaroks than another Dark World.
I love MCU's Hulk. I like the other Hulks too, because I tend to like everything nerdy shy of some of the DCEU movies. (Look, the fins are sticking out of the water! What am I doing, provoking them like this?) The thing about Hulk is that he really works in small doses. So the narrative kind of demands that Hulk is the boss in this one and that Banner is in the backseat. It's actually an extremely traumatic moment for Banner to find out that he's been gone for two years. He's afraid of the other guy. The fact that he hasn't been let out (at least it should be) is a scary thought for Banner. Emotionally, this makes it very hard to understand. It's kind of like watching the end of a fireworks display for a full hour. It's very impressive at first, but then nothing else can be expected. There's a reason that the display comes in waves. The ebb and flow of fireworks and Hulk (that's some good writin' there) make the revelation of Hulk all the more valuable. Banner needs to be there so we know that the threat of his explosion is important. The concept of "Planet Hulk" treats him somewhat like Conan the Barbarian rather than something that is nightmarish. Nightmarish Hulk is great. His jokes even work because the juxtaposition of Nightmare Hulk to something silly makes the joke work better. But the Bruce Banner stuff really works. I liked laughing at Hulk in the previous movies, but the dynamic changed in this one. I didn't find the Hulk all that hilarious, but Banner was great. I wonder if Waititi was aware of what dynamics he was shifting. The Hulk being the character through most of the movie still works, just not in the way it does in the other moments.
The problem I have reviewing movies that I really enjoyed, especially comedies, is that I start just gushing over moments. It becomes "The Chris Farley Show", when I comment on remembering parts that were cool. I'm going to do my best to avoid that, but realize that this paragraph's initial intent was to just praise moments and hopefully find why they work. Like, this movie had to be written with Jeff Goldblum in mind for the Grandmaster. There's no way another actor could have filled the "It's My Birthday" hole that the movie would have had without him. I think that Goldblum is cast with people knowing that he's just going to do degrees of Goldblum to his performance. This is self-aware Goldblum at his best. I don't want self-aware Goldblum for everything. We saw that with Christopher Walken and it got really trying after a while. I still want him to tone it down for other movies, but he's great in this movie. Honestly, every time he is on screen, I was chuckling pretty hard. Also, the bit with the play within the movie. I can't believe that actor (I'm saying this because as spoilery as I've warned this review was going to be, there's some surprises that only work because they are surprises) agreed to do play that part for the movie. He's such a big name and I thought that he'd want a substantial part within the MCU. Apparently, that's his ticket. I suppose that he could pull a Stan Lee and just be anyone that he wants to be in the long run. (I just realized that Stan Lee probably has a more impressive IMDB page than many actors. Three to four movies a year is nothing to scoff at. Also, all high grossing.) I suppose that I should mention the protagonist of this movie. Hemsworth and Hiddleston together are awesome. Their dynamic is what makes the other movies work. It's so great knowing that Marvel doesn't necessarily kill off its villains. It was such a trope of older superhero movies (with the exception of Superman. Superman doesn't kill...MAN OF STEEL! Oh look, the sharks are starting to attack the boat.)
I liked this movie. It's not my favorite, but I'm super glad that it exists. (Pun intended.) If you want more on this, please listen to the podcast by clicking here.
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Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.