Hey Sparkles! Thor: Ragnarok is a Visual Extravaganza

dh_uckmv0ai_dbf-1I had high expectations going into this film.  First of all, it’s the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films so I was looking forward to a fun, action packed, superhero movie.  Additionally, the promotional posters for this film are insanely colourful and eye-catching and probably my favourite out of all the other MCU films the have come to theatres in recent years.  And, of course, the trailer looked spectacular – action, comedy, bright colours, and Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song blasting away.  I was expecting a really bad ass MCU adventure.  That’s not exactly what I got.  Yes, it was bright and colourful; yes, the music was fantastic and featured plenty of Immigrant Song.  But this wasn’t quite what I was expecting from a Thor movie.  Although the film was very good – my favourite of all of the Thor films so far – it came across more like a comedy than the kind of superhero action-adventure film that I had been expecting.

cr-krackle-thor-v2-lg-1504781223727_1280wDirected by Taika Waititi (who also appears as Korg), the only other  directorial work of his that I was familiar with up to this point was What We Do In the Shadows.  It’s a hilarious film so I was definitely expecting some comedic elements to appear in Thor: Ragnarok.  However, I definitely got more than I was expecting.  Perhaps too much more.  Admittedly, I laughed at all the jokes and I had a fantastic time, but some of the comedy was stretched out a little too much to the point where it was excessive and pointless.  Did that portal really need to be referred to as “The Anus”?  What purpose did that serve?  Was there really a point to that?  I was expecting a funny action film but instead what I got was a comedy with some action scenes.  There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that – it’s just not what I was expecting from the film based on the trailers.  I will say, however, that I really did enjoy Waititi’s directorial style and I will absolutely continue to follow his work.  My favourite kinds of films are ones that are visually stunning with creative sets and costumes and lots to look at – Thor:Ragnarok delivered on this.  Overall, I really like what Waititi brought to the MCU and this has ended up being my favourite of all 3 Thor films.

thorragnarok-valk-largeAs I’ve already mentioned, I really enjoyed the sets and costumes in this film.  Of course, from previous experience with Thor films I expected elaborate armour and Norse/Viking inspired wardrobe choices for all Asgardian characters, but it was the treatment of the people of Sakaar that I found really spectacular.  Other than Hela’s fabulous outfit and headpiece, there was nothing really new or unexpected about the treatment of the Asgardian sets and costumes.  Sakaar easily stole the show on this front.  As a planet that is built from junk and things that are lost, I really appreciated the collage of colour, texture, and outside influences from other cultures and times.  The sets were bright and colourful, the costumes were fun and the hairpieces were spectacular.  The crew of Ragnarok clearly took advantage of the setting they were given and delivered something that was not only visually spectacular, but made sense within this particular realm of the MCU.  Everything was both modern, and dated; alien and familiar.  It was trash made beautiful.

thorragnarok003There was a downside to the visuals, however: The CG.  For most of the film it was really well executed but my biggest problem with it was any scenes containing Hela, particularly her fight scenes.  It was disappointing that everyone else’s fight scenes were so well done, and that the CG didn’t look nearly that bad anywhere else in the film.  This was especially frustrating because scenes like the flashback of Hela vs the Valkyries, as well as the final battle of the film were so beautifully executed.  Every single time there was a shot of Hela fighting (sometimes even when she was just walking) she was so saturated in CG that she didn’t even look real.  I found this especially noticeable in the movements of her cloak and her legs.  It looked like a cheap projection Cate Blanchett as opposed to the real thing.  Hela also started to fall flat for me near the end.  There were so many delightful little nuances and movements that Cate Blanchett added to her performance in the beginning of the film, but all of that seemed to be gone by the end.  Hela was really a spectacular villain so I was really disappointed that she just wasn’t as polished and perfected and some of the other characters in the film.

thorragnarok005The music was something I think just about everyone was looking forward to in this movie – it was hard not to get excited for it with Immigrant Song carrying us through the trailer.  Thankfully, Immigrant Song was used very well.  It was a great way to start off the opening fight scene between Thor and Surtur and it was used absolutely flawlessly during the final fight to save Asgard from Hela.  It was a little disappointing, however, that this was the only rock song used for this film.  Sure, there was one scene where Pure Imagination was used as part of the soundtrack, but I was really expecting more.  It just felt overly simplistic to rely on only the one rock song, especially when the setting of Sakkar offered such a great opportunity to showcase other kinds of music.  It is a garbage planet – any kind of song could have been played and it would have worked.  That being said, the score of the film did take that into effect.  The soundtrack of the film featured the grand orchestral kind of music that one would expect of an MCU film set in Asgard, but there were also additions of techno music added to the soundtrack.  The music was a nice blend of Asgard and Sakkar and it really worked well for the film as a whole.  I just wish there had been more rock n’ roll.

1thor_r_8_copy_1200_1751_81_sAs this is a pre-established MCU film franchise we got to see the return of classic Thor and Avengers characters Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Heimdall (Idris Elba), as well as an appearance from Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).  But we were also treated to a delightful cast of new characters such as Hela (Cate Blanchett), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Skurge (Karl Urban), Surtur (Clancy Brown), Topaz (Rachel House), Korg (Taika Waititi), and Meik.  Despite this fantastic cast, I would argue that the new character everyone was most excited to see was Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster.  Who doesn’t love Jeff Goldblum?  Grandmaster was everything I expected and hoped he would be.  He was the perfect kind of insane/flashy ruler that fits perfectly for a planet like Sakaar and Jeff Goldblum’s treatment of the character made for a really entertaining viewing experience.  I honestly can’t think of anything I didn’t like about him.  There was also another new character that I was pleased to see and that I was not expecting.  This was a brief cameo and I had to do a double take before I really clued in to what I was seeing: Matt Damon.  In the Asgardian play near the beginning of the film, Matt Damon plays the actor playing Loki.  That was a fantastically unexpected moment.  But, there is only one person that everyone goes into an MCU movie hoping to see, and that is Stan Lee.  This time he showed up as a crazy Sakaarian barber and as usual he did not disappoint.

thor-ragnarok-poster-anthony-hopkins-as-odin(Warning: Spoilers in this paragraph since I’ll be talking about the plot and Ragnarok)  Overall, the plot for this was about what I was expecting for a typical MCU film.  There was action, adventure, comedy, and Thor learned a little about himself along the way; no major twists and turns, but it wasn’t overly simplistic or boring.  The parts of the plot that really interested me, however, were the references to Ragnarok.  I love mythology, and admittedly I don’t know quite as much about Norse mythology, but I do remember learning a great deal about Ragnarok.  It is the prophecy of the end of the world.  One of the things that stuck with me when I learned about this mythological event is that there is no avoiding it.  No matter what anyone does, Ragnarok will still happen and there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to stop it.  Although this film has more MCU Thor than Norse Thor, I did appreciate the appearance of characters who are a part of the Ragnarok prophecy, and I was really impressed that the film chose to adopt the mentality that nothing can be done to stop Ragnarok.  It was refreshing that the film didn’t take the easy way out and have the hero of the story magically fix everything against all odds; Thor actually allowed Ragnarok to happen because it has to happen and there is no escaping that fate.

thorragnarok002This is the second MCU film I have seen in DBox (the first being Doctor Strange).  Doctor Strange is still my top favourite DBox experience ever, but for a while Thor: Ragnarok was definitely a contender.  There were little nuances where I wasn’t expecting the chair to move, but when it did it was certainly a nice touch.  In fact, I found that the subtler or more unexpected chair movements were probably the best in this film.  Obviously, there was a lot of movement during spaceship chase scenes, fight scenes, etc.  Those moments were just standard DBox fun – nothing particularly unique or exciting, but certainly helped to immerse you in the action.  I found that by the end of the final fight scene, however, that it was just a lot of rumbling and shaking – it just started to get a little dull by the end.  Although the DBox experience wasn’t quite as good as that of Doctor Strange, overall it was still a really good experience.

cr-krackle-hulk-v2-lg-1504781223719_1280wSo if you still haven’t seen Thor: Ragnarok yet, this is one MCU film that I would not skip.  Yes, there are some improvements that could be made, but overall it is actually a very entertaining film.  Also, it does deliver on what was promised.  It is bright and colourful, there’s fun music and lots of Immigrant Song, and there’s plenty of action and comedy.  Now that I’ve seen more of Waititi’s directorial work I will absolutely watch some of his past films, and I am looking forward to see what he will create in the future.  If you’re considering DBox seats, it is worth the extra money and from my DBox experiences of the past year I am going to make more of an effort to see future MCU films in DBox (from the trailers, Black Panther looks like it will be beyond perfect for DBox seats).  And most importantly…  It pains me that in this day and age I still have to state the obvious, but from what I witnessed this weekend there are still some people who haven’t figured it out yet…  STAY UNTIL THE END OF THE CREDITS!!!!!  THIS IS A MARVEL FILM!!!!!  THERE ARE EXTRA SCENES DURING AND AFTER THE CREDITS!!!!!  WHY ARE PEOPLE STILL LEAVING THE THEATRE EARLY?!?!?!?!?!

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