Vivid. Dazzling. Flashy. Intense. All words that come to mind when I watch the new Thor: Ragnarok, coming to theaters today, November 3rd.
This third Thor film begins with a battle going on between Thor and Surtur, a fire demon. Thor learns that his father, Odin, is no longer on Asgard, and that the realm itself will soon fall to Ragnarok if Surtur places his crown on the Eternal Flame. Ultimately, Thor defeats Surtur and makes his way to Asgard, believing Ragnarok has been prevented. However, coming to Asgard, he finds his brother, Loki, posing as Odin; they travel together to Earth where they find Stephen Strange. Stephen leads them to a dying Odin, who explains that his firstborn daughter, Hela, will be released upon his passing.
The movie advances from there, introducing several new and lovable characters along the way. From the very beginning of the movie, I knew this was going to have a very different feel from the others in the Thor storyline. If you read my post about the press junket I attended where I was able to interview members of the cast from this movie, you’ll remember me saying that Taika Waititi worked with the entire cast wanting to give this movie “a new sensibility.”
There’s definitely a lot more humor in this movie than in the others; in a good way, of course. Chris Hemsworth portrays a much more witty Thor than we’ve seen before, and it definitely sets a good balance between the comedic side and the dark and dramatic side. I never would’ve pinned Chris Hemsworth as the next to come out as a comedic outbreak, but he sure proved that he was. His wit and charisma that plays along with most characters he comes into contact with throughout the movie put such a different spin on the entire Thor series of the MCU, but I think it was a necessary twist given how dark the previous Thor was. But of course, that all gets balanced out as well, with the introduction of Hela, Cate Blanchett’s character. Hela is Odin’s firstborn daughter, the goddess of death. She is dark and mysterious, and has Thor and Loki confused as to her existence and where she even came from, as all history of her in Asgard has been hidden away since her imprisonment. Adorning head-to-toe black and a headdress that reminds the crowd of horns, she manifests weapons and was able to destroy Thor’s beloved hammer within minutes of being introduced to her. She’s such a powerful villain that leaves all of the heroes wondering how to defeat her, and Cate Blanchett really pushes that narrative with such an impressive and dominant portrayal, she definitely steals the show when she’s on screen.
One of the new characters we met was Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, a mercenary who we find capturing Thor and taking him to serve the Grandmaster, played by Jeff Goldblum, who is the ruler of this planet named Sakaar. Tessa Thompson did a wonderful job portraying Valkyrie, who once defended Asgard against Hela long ago, and now works for the Grandmaster. Valkyrie is a very strong character, both physically and mentally, as she easily holds her own against the likes of both Thor and Loki. Not only in character though, Tessa’s portrayal is so strong that she doesn’t just fall to a side character, she’s so well integrated that it actually leaves you wanting more from her. If the idea of a stand-alone Valkyrie movie were to come to fruition, I think it would do some wonderful justice in building up such a powerful female hero.
Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster is the twisted, eccentric ruler of Sakaar. The Grandmaster was such an amusing character to watch, being both somewhat sarcastic but also somewhat sadistic, in a way where he pins warriors together to fight tooth and nail in his Contest of Champions. Watching Jeff portray the Grandmaster, you can definitely tell he took the idea and ran with it. I definitely think his talent as a jazz musician added to the character improvisation as well, with the way the Grandmaster talks and sways when he walks.