Here is the transcript for my review of Thor: Ragnarok, which aired Nov. 8 on Episode 91 of The Bridge.
On Episode 91, you can also hear my good friend John Lund interview Damon Amendolara, the host of The DA show on CBS Sports Radio, weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
The Bridge is broadcast as a one-hour radio show every Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Sports Radio America. After the live broadcast, the show is released as a podcast on iTunes and at lundinbridge.com on Thursday. You can listen to the live show every Wednesday on Sports Radio America here or through the TuneIn app.
What’s up everybody? I’m Joe Baress and this IS Five Minutes in the Film Room.
Thor is a character that wasn’t supposed to work, but never doubt the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Back in phase one, Kenneth Branagh directed the first installment in the franchise. To the shock of everyone, Thor succeeded in quality and at the box office. Propelled by the strength of its charismatic lead Chris Hemsworth, a man we had never heard of, the franchise was off and running. The first Thor also gave us the MCU’s best villain, Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston.
Hemsworth and Hiddleston continued to add to the MCU through the Avengers films, and did all they could to pick up their decent but ultimately lifeless sequel, Thor: The Dark World.
Then came the announcement of Thor: Ragnarok and all the hype that followed. The Hulk, check; Doctor Strange, check; Jeff Goldblum, check; Cate Blanchett, check. See that. I just broke the rule of three. That’s how much hype surrounded this movie. Then the trailer dropped and that was great. This movie easily gets an A+++++ when it comes to the marketing. But did it live up to that hype? … Let’s go to the tape.
Some of the hype is real, for sure, as the acting is excellent behind the strength of Hemsworth, Hiddleston, Blanchett and Idris Elba. And a great turn from Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie. Also Goldblum, is ah, ah, Goldblum.
Ultimately, this movie is a blast. It’s an improvement over the original and definitely more than a step above the dull Thor: The Dark World. Thor: Ragnarok gets the franchise back to its colorful roots as every scene is so vibrant.
This movie also hits on a lot of comedy, and that’s a credit to the writing and the actors’ comedic timing, especially Hemsworth who’s nailed this role for years. It really hits you like Guardians of the Galaxy did in 2014 with its humor and originality.
A few of the action sequences are pretty incredible, especially the scenes backed by the Immigrant Song. The creative use of the hammer and camerawork are a few of the details that elevate this third installment.
I also enjoy one storyline in the film. I’ve always thought, Thor is the god of thunder. Why does he have such a dependence on the hammer, Mjolnir? As you could see in the trailer, Blanchett’s character, Hela, destroys the hammer. So we finally get to see what he’s made of without the weapon.
Thor: Ragnarok also gives us the iconic moments all superhero movies strive for, and I was smiling and/or laughing throughout. I’ve heard complaints that it’s too much comedy. I disagree, and would take it a step further. The movie balances tone very well.
So I stress that there are a lot of things to like about this film and that overall it is a very good movie and another good step for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But this is not a perfect film.
Hela is a solid villain, but with so much going on in this film, although well-balanced for the most part, she ends up away from the action for most of the movie, because Thor is in a different part of the universe. Also, in one of her fight scenes, she’s completely CGI’d along with her attackers. It makes for a CGI mess. I wanted to love the scene. I really did. But I couldn’t.
I also didn’t love all the elements of the story. There’s really not much to it, and I guess that’s not that big of a problem. But when a movie as hyped as this comes out, you want a solid story. And the plot was … meh.
It’s little things like this that keep Thor: Ragnarok out of the conversation for one of the best superhero movies of all-time, but make no mistake about it. This third installment is top-notch. It took a chance and absolutely succeeded. If the result is a few hiccups along the way, so be it. Because the effort should be commended and praised.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Thor: Ragnarok is the Thor movie we didn’t even realize we wanted. But we absolutely got it. It’s so much fun, and full of life. The acting is great and the characters are great as these Thor movies finally elevate the talent it already had, instead of forcing Hemsworth and Hiddleston to do the heavy-lifting. The film thrives off Taika Watiti’s direction. But when you go into this film, be sure to temper your expectations. This movie is not perfect. There are areas to nitpick, but I find when I nitpick it means I really liked the movie. And the critic in me just finds something. Ultimately, this is a fun, innovative, original film, proving the Marvel Cinematic Universe not only continues to keep churning out quality films, but build better content. Good luck, Justice League, you’re gonna need it.
I’ll rank Thor: Ragnarok as Aaron Judge. He earned AL Rookie of the Year and is one of the most exciting players in baseball. Even though he only just finished his rookie season, Judge has areas of his game to nitpick. But that shouldn’t take away from how great his first full season was.