Welcome to Planet Hulk, with a side of Ragnarok
Rejoice, Marvel fans! Thor has returned to the big screen. And he brings friends! Okay, not all would be considered a friend, but we see new and familiar faces in Thor: Ragnarok. I’m sure you have read a review or two, or have heard people talk, or even went to watch it yourself, but I am here to tell you that this particular movie has a very odd roller coaster effect going on, and I have been at odds with it, pondering the overall goal of the movie. Is this me saying this movie is bad? No, not at all. But it does wander off the trail some, and almost borders on a bromantic comedy at times. Still with me, or have I lost you? Let’s get to it.
Before we get into the spoiler side of my movie reviews, I will point out, that this movie is worth watching. Just be prepared for a mashup between a Thor plot, weaved into an all over the place Planet Hulk, with a side of events to come for the Infinity War saga. At this point I honestly look at the movie adaptation of comics as a different universe, otherwise I would rip them to pieces at times for ruining a great run in page form. But every now and then you get to see a glimpse of how that run would be on the screen, and it will put a smile on your face.
THIS IS THE GIANT WARNING APTLY NAMED THE SPOILER WARNING!!!!!!!!!
Right away we open up to see that Thor: Ragnarok isn’t going to take itself too seriously, which is on par with most Marvel movies. We see Thor in a cage, giving his backstory on the events leading up to now, as well as a dream he keeps having, showing the end of his home world, Asgard. Trying a bit of witty banter, you realize he is talking to a skeleton, and asks how long he will be in the cage for. While I kind of smirked, I just kept thinking- please don’t let this be the outline for the movie. A joke here or there is fine, but there is no reason to keep breaking the movie up with so much source material to work with. Thor is released from the cage, only to be dangling by a chain, while talking to an old enemy of Thor’s father(Odin) named Surtur. While thought long defeated, Surtur talks to Thor about what happened to him, and his plans to destroy Asgard. Once again we see this broken up every time Thor spins around, asking Surtur to hold on a minute while he spins back around to face him. While humerous once, this happens too many times and just gets old fast, with me wanting them to speed this process up to further the story. Thor reveals he let himself be caught, and holds his hand out. And we wait…. And we continue waiting… And finally, Thor’s hammer Mjolnir appears, as we all knew it would.
When the battle starts, everything is picked up some, and I really enjoyed watching Thor battle Surtur and his minions. Surtur being a giant fire demon, shows off some fancy looking flames that Thor must survive during the fight. But seeing as we are just getting started, Thor defeats the giant and claims his skull for a prize. We learn that Heimdall is no longer at the helm of the Bifrost Bridge, which connects all worlds together. We do see a very bald Karl Urban playing the Asgardian called Skurge, who is now in charge of the Bifrost. More comedy ensues as Thor begs for the Bifrost to be opened so he can leave Surtur’s realm. But Skurge is busy trying to impress some Asgardian gals, and waits until the last minute to bring Thor home. All of this is a bit sped up, as the movie assumes you have been keeping up with the Thor films along with some other Marvel movies. That’s fine with me, and we see our hero question the whereabouts of Heimdall, and go directly to Odin, his father.
But if you have watched these movies, you know that Loki, Thor’s adopted brother, imprisoned Odin and assumed his form. Thor finds out, which leads to a standoff, and eventually Thor making Loki travel to Earth revealing Odin’s location. Throw in a segment with Dr. Strange, and we are revealed a frail looking Odin standing on a cliff, overlooking the sea. He knows Ragnarok is coming, and it starts with Hela. Hela is Odin’s firstborn, and sister to Thor. After using her to take over nine realms, Odin had to lock her away due to her bloodlust ways and the usual rule over everything attitude. Hela is coming. Thor has a job to do. But can he trust Loki?
It doesn’t take long for Hela to make her return, and seeing Cate Blanchette play the role made me happy. She has a way of showing a certain demeanor, that lets you know she is very powerful, without having to flaunt it. But since she has been imprisoned for so long, you get to see just a glimpse, as she stops Mjolnir with her bare hand, and smashes it to bits! Uh oh. Thor and Loki may have just sealed their impending doom. Time to run! As they travel back though the Bifrost, Hela is on their heels. She dodges Loki, and smashes Thor out of the wormhole, and we see Thor traveling though space. He ends up on Planet Hulk- I mean planet Sakaar. This is where I got excited. On one hand, this is just replacing Hulk for Thor, but at least we get to see a glimpse here. Seeing as Universal owns the rights to make a stand alone Hulk movie, I guess this is as good as it gets. Thor gets captured by a drunken beauty, and we see him awaken to more comedy. Jeff Goldbum plays the Grandmaster of Sakaar, who is a bit quirky and a lot insane. I really wanted to like his character, but it just wasn’t there this time for me. Goldblum just kinds of trots along, mumbling this or that, and Thor is taken to the arena to fight against the champion. Who smashes. And is green. And can talk finally!
This could have been the highlight of the movie for me. In the comics, Hulk fights his way up and eventually takes on a captured Silver Surfer. It was a great read, but I get we don’t have time for Thor to make his way up the ranks. The two collide, and it is a back and forth between two titans for sure. Now I love Hulk, and I will never underestimate his power, but there is a reason Thor was not on Earth when Hulk came back to beat pretty much the entire Marvel roster in World War Hulk. Because Thor would have given him a battle. That being said, we see Thor starting to power up here, but Hulk not really all that angry, and it ends with some foul play. Did I mention Loki was on Sakaar too? As usual, he is out for himself. No surprise here. There is some chemistry that Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston have that really does make me smile. You do get to see this whimsical side of the two brothers, that sometimes forget they are gods and have a certain world ending scenario that is taking place. And I do enjoy that, for a time. But it is just pushed to the extreme here, to the point where they seem like kids, even when trying to escape the planet. Maybe that was the point, but it kept breaking up what could have been a decent pace of things being fit into a just over two hour movie.
We get to see some nice set pieces here, from the luscious Asgard, to the junky Sakaar, and back to an Asgard in ruins. Hey, remember that beauty that captured Thor? Well, she just also happened to be a Valkyrie who fought alongside Odin. And she just happened to be on Sakaar. Being a drunk, trying to forget about the entire Valkyrie squad being slaughtered by Hela a lifetime ago. Valkyrie is played by Tessa Thompson, and really does a great job of making you want to hate her at first. But she has her reasons, and eventually we get to see her true potential, which was brilliant. Let’s not forget about Heimdall, who has been keeping the Asgardians safe in refuge. So we have Thor, Valkyrie, and Bruce Banner on a ship to Asgard, to defeat Hela and save the day. Fighting ensues. Hulk is distracted the whole time, so he is pretty much out of the fight, leaving Valkyrie and a hammerless Thor to do battle. Once again, I have to ask why Hulk doesn’t just get right to it, and rage out? I guess that would be too easy, plus this is kind of Thor’s movie. So Hulk fights Hela’s wolf Fenrir. In water. I was a bit let down here, as I really wanted to see a brawl. Valkyrie and Thor have a much harder fight, which leads Thor to gain his real control over being the God of Thunder. Even this isn’t enough to best his sister, and what he has been trying to prevent this whole time, he must trigger himself. Remember Surtur? Well, if you toss his skull into the eternal flame that burns on Asgard, he will be reborn, but waaaaay stronger. So let’s come full circle as we see Surtur fight Hela and destroy Asgard. Yep. Ragnarok still happens. After all of these events, nothing can be done to stop it. We see Thor at the helm of a ship Star Trek style with his people, who are now homeless, worldless even. But at least they are alive, which is also thanks to Loki. Just like the last Thor movie, we see Loki come to save the day at the last minute. But something caught Loki’s eye while taking Surtur’s skull down to be placed in the eternal flame. Something with infinite power. I wonder what happened to it? I bet we will find out.