Okay, I just got back from Thor: Ragnarok – well, I got home, did the prep for dinner, then wrote this, but almost literally ‘just back’ – and I have to say: go see this movie. Go see it twice. This movie is so great on so many levels, I am very, very happy.
Okay, so if you’ve seen the trailers, you know what you are getting into. What might not be clear is that the plot to this movie is incredibly dark and encompasses more than one tragedy, The humour is also ubiquitous. I think this might have more comedy moments per minute of movie than Guardians of the Galaxy, which was previously the lightest of the Marvel movies (I don’t count Deadpool, which is more of a Fox movie than a Marvel one). Like GotG, Thor: Ragnarok leavens the action with humour, but unlike GotG, humour rather than action seems like the default.
Having written that, let me assure you that the humour doesn’t overwhelm the plot or – when it comes – the pathos. It really is an amazing achievement to hit so many moments that make one laugh while also hitting moments that tear one up, and include that with healthy helpings of character development.
It’s important to point out how amazing everyone is in this movie, but I will be forever grateful for Karl Urban’s work as Skurge, the Executioner. The Skure redemption story from Walt Simonson’s run on Thor – in my mind, the best comics ever realized, bar none, dead serious on that – has been something that never fails to move me. I love it. I understand him. And it’s not a “hurray! he’s a good guy now so let’s welcome into the fold” moment like Magneto with the X-Men (in the comics). No, Skurge’s character arc – in the Simonson run and in this movie – makes sense, it has real emotional heft, and it is believable. The Skurge of the comics had a long history, and the climax was both poignant and added weight to everything that came before it (explained quite well here). The Skurge of the movie is quite different as a character, but not in the final noble decision that will define him. The Skurge of the movie, unlike the one in comics, does not have a long history of villainy and so his choice defines him in an even more profound way than the Skurge of the comics. It’s the moment when he is really tested, and he does it right.
Such a glorious movie. Really. The only issue for some might be the amount of humour. One of the people I saw it with said he thought the humour might be a little bit too much. I disagree. I think it’s perfect. I think Thor needed this. He and Iron Fist are my comic favourites, and his previous movies were fine, but not great (unlike Iron Fist . . . I continue to mourn). I worried a bit about the humour, because he was not a light-hearted character in his other appearances. We saw some change in his character in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and I think the self-awareness he evidences in this movie fits in his character’s growth. He is maturing, taking himself less serious, but still prone to fits of petulance – as we saw in the beginning of Thor and in The Avengers.
And massive props to director Taika Waititi, who voices the rock gladiator Korg. Korg is a consistently light addition, even when he’s in the middle of massive fight. His timing was perfect, and like K-2S0, he stole every scene he was in, though much less a cynical presence than the former.
So I give Thor: Ragnarok a well-earned 4.75 out of 5, because nothing is perfect. There was probably tightening that could have happened – minor though it might have been – and perhaps a few, very minor other improvements, but I think this is as close to a perfect comic adaptation as we are going to see. Huge recommendation.