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Thor: Ragnarok Review!

Jormungand Jondee here at Sakaar,

Thor: Ragnarok is a movie you should go in cold to fully appreciate the jokes and action, spoilers ahead!, so come back after you’ve seen it in theaters I’ll wait. Ok, wait!, you are still reading this before watching the movie right? Sooo, Thor does something, then he does something else, you’re still spoiling it, I see you! Alright, either nothing can spoil this movie for you, you don’t care, or you have seen the movie. Let’s get the hammer spinning! Taika Waititi, director of What We Do in the Shadows (2014) and Flight of the Conchords, also had a super hero connection playing Tom Kalmaku in Green Lantern (2011)! Maybe he should have also directed Green Lantern. The script was by Eric Pearson who wrote the Marvel One-Shots, Craig Kyle known for working in superhero animation including creating X-23 (and currently writing the X-23 film), and Christopher Yost, who also worked in animation.

The opening night showing had a featurette with Waititi on the music with retro synthesizers by the incredible Mark Mothersbaugh (from Devo!) who also scored The Lego Movie (2014). Then, Waititi appears with the cast thanking Dave who watches movies and everyone in the audience including all of the Daves. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is trapped in Muspelheim, the realm of Surtur, it is a fiery world, one of the Nine Realms. The others are Asgard, Jotunheim, the land of the frost giants, both in the first film, Midgard, in all Marvel films, the name for Earth, and Svartalfheim, which has the Dark Elves of Thor: The Dark World (2013). Five out of nine. He is chained and held in a cage narrating all of the events leading up to his capture. He left Earth in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) to find the Infinity Stones, but instead had to return to defend Asgard when he ended up in Muspelheim. He is swung by a chain before the fire giant, who looks to be about Balrog size. Surtur (voiced by Clancy Brown) says he is going to bring about Ragnarok and destroy Asgard.

Thor asks him how and the fire giant answers when his crown is dipped in the Eternal Flame from Odin’s Vault, his power will make him Asgard sized, to raze it. Surtur brings in his fire giants and Thor summons Mjolnir, his hammer, this is a running joke in the film. Waititi has fun with the expected Thor action and dialogue which makes the Thor films pay off. Thor’s fight with the fire giants really makes use of Mjolnir like in the comic books. It really made the 3D almost worth it, but about only until halfway through the film, so yes 3D, if you like some brilliant 3D for around half a movie. Thor takes the crown from Surtur and calls for Heimdall open the Bifrost Bridge so he can return to Asgard. Thor has to also take on a fire dragon. Heimdall doesn’t answer because the person monitoring the bridge is also not there. The bridge monitor is now Skurge played by Karl Urban. His character was introduced in Journey into Mystery #103 (1965).  Skurge is usually paired with the Enchantress.  He was made monitor when Heimdall went into hiding. Thor makes it to Asgard and goes into hammer flight. He returns to the golden palace, sees a gold statue of Loki, but everyone’s attention is focused on a play. All of the usual Thor tropes are twisted around in this movie.

The play is about the sacrifice of Loki and Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is enjoying it. Thor is able to force Odin to reveal that it is really his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). They travel to New York, now changed to normal clothes, Thor in jeans and Loki in a suit, and find the retirement home Loki placed Odin in is torn down. Loki suddenly drops into a portal and leaves behind a card with the 177A Bleeker Street. I immediately picked up that this is the address of one Stephen Strange. Thor enters and is clumsily surprised by portals used by Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). His role as Sorcerer Supreme has tasked him with protecting the Earth from threats like Loki. Thor has found his hammer has changed into an umbrella and Loki drops from the portal so they can find their father in Norway. Odin is there looking out to the sea. He expresses regret to his sons and also that his time has come. His passing will lead to Ragnarok and he continues about Thor’s sister, his first born, Hela. She will appear when he is gone.  This is an MCU change to the villainess, but works.

Odin passes away, a dark portal opens, Thor and Loki transform into their Norse forms, and Hela (Cate Blanchett) walks out. She of course is the goddess of death. In the comics, she is the daughter of Loki who leads legions of the dead from her realm, Niflheim, to attack Asgard in Ragnarok. Blanchett had a cold and manipulative performance in Cinderella (2015). She is a more powerful villain who shrugs at the Tesseract, defeats everyone, and there is still a touch of humor. Here, she is strong enough to catch Thor’s hammer and destroy it. In the first trailer, this looked like a New York street, so the Norway setting is an improvement. Hela’s power is to form swords that suddenly appear and she can throw countless swords. She activates her power by having large horns appear like a helmet. Thor and Loki are defeated and in a panic Loki asks for transport back to Asgard. Thor knows this is a mistake since Hela wanted him to do this to enter Asgard! In the rainbow transport, Hela knocks them both away, and returns to Asgard.  Hela makes for a good villain for the MCU.

Hela sees Skurge, finds that he wants recognition, and becomes her Executioner, the supervillain name of the character. The goddess of death defeats the army of Asgard and the Warriors Three. Meanwhile, Thor is dropped into a junkyard planet, Sakaar. This of course is a recent addition with Incredible Hulk #92 (2006) in the Planet Hulk storyline. Thor faces aliens and then a ship lands with Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson). Thompson is of course in the Westworld series, but really caught everyone’s attention in Creed (2015). She easily defeats Thor hitting him with an electrocuting obedience disc. I can’t wait to see more of her character in other Marvel movies. Scrapper 142 is of course the identity of Valkryie who first appeared in Avengers #83 (1970). Her name was Brunnilde, but this is never mentioned in the film. Also note that Valkyrie is the name of the giant Flying Wing that Cap flies at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). Thor is taken to the fortress of the Grandmaster who is the similar to Taneleer Tivan, an Elder of the Universe. He has all of the showmanship and fun of Jeff Goldblum.

The Grandmaster’s assistant is Topaz played by Rachel House. She voiced Gramma Tala in Moana (2016) and of course was in Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016). Topaz keeps the Grandmaster in line and is a ruthless protector for him. In the comics, the character is a sorceress introduced in Werewolf by Night #13 (1974). Thor agrees to fight in the Grandmaster’s Contest of Champions for his freedom. This is a clever nod to comics fans since it is the title of Marvel’s first limited series. Here, of course, it is the arena battle of Sakaar. Thor meets some of the gladiators of the warm up act; Korg played by Waititi, a rock alien who was introduced in Planet Hulk’s Incredible Hulk #93 (2006), and Miek, a small, insectoid alien who first appeared in Incredible Hulk #92 (2006). Waititi almost steals the movie with his hilarious performance as Korg. Miek is his sidekick CG buddy. Loki is also there and has been on the planet for a week; time it seems works differently on Sakaar. Thor’s hair is shaved off and given gladiator armor and weapons. He is sent into the arena to face the Grandmaster’s champion.  The Planet Hulk which was a complete storyline is grafted to this movie perfectly.

Loki has made a bet with the Grandmaster. His champion, of course we know from the trailer, is the Hulk played by Mark Ruffalo! This is really the best Hulk in the series, but you can say the same with the other characters with parts in this film. This is the brutal, Hulk smash, type of Hulk. He has some funny moments and has submerged the Banner personality for years. Meanwhile, Hela has reached Odin’s Vault to get the Eternal Flame to revive her warriors and her giant wolf, Fenris. While this happening, Heimdall (Idris Elba) is leading all of the citizens of Asgard to a mountain refuge. Hela has to hunt him down since he has the sword that activates the Bifrost Bridge. Thor has to somehow escape Sakaar with Banner and Valkyrie, return to Asgard, and somehow defeat Hela. The goddess of death doesn’t really have any death powers. Maybe when she somehow returns to Niflheim, then the gods can maybe return or the Infinity War reboots the MCU; Odin, Frigga, and others. Likely, Thanos was obsessed with Death, a robed female with a skull head, but this could be Hela.  Maybe we can find out what happened to Sif since Jaime Alexander was filming Blindspot. There are two end credit scenes. Waititi is able to balance the film with all of the characters getting their action and comedy moments. This is easily the funniest Marvel movie that pokes fun at the Marvel movies, but is also respectful.

Four Mjolnirs out of Five!

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