Where I Watched It: Disney Plus
English Audio Description?: Yes
The first thing you need to know about me is that going in, I’m a huge Thor Ragnarok fan. It is very much one of my favorite Marvel films ever. What Taika managed to do with a franchise that was laid to rest with The Dark World is amazing. Some people thought he turned Thor into a joke, and I think he really gave a breath of life into a character whose first two films left people rather tepid.
So, I was predisposed to love this film. I have yet to encounter something from Taika that I didn’t like. I love his TV shows, What We Do In The Shadows, Reservation Dogs, and Our Flag Means Death. As a director, I’d go on a limb and say The Hunt For The Wilderpeople might be his best film, if not certainly his most underrated.
I’ve seen a lot of hate for this film, and while I will start by acknowledging that he did not top himself, he did direct a tight two hour film that was once again really fun, and featured a villain with purpose. Some Marvel movies have these throwaway villains you don’t even remember years later. Can you remember the villain to Thor The Dark World? Can you remember his motivation? No? Well, Gore is set up rather nicely, and even if Christian Bale approached this role with the level of dramatic intensity you’d expect from someone chasing an Oscar, he’s incredibly relatable. How many times out of grief of the loss of a child do we see their parents try and make sense of it all. And when he finally reaches that moment, his God laughs at him, tells him there is no afterlife where his daughter is, and his God was never listening to his prayers. So becoming the God Butcher seems like a logical step, no?
Meanwhile, we see the return of Jane Foster who has been dealt stage 4 cancer, and knows death is near. However, Mjolnir is calling to her, and she answers the call and finds she is worthy. So, when it comes time to fight, Thor teams up with, well, Thor. Of course, this complicates things when the OG Thor learns that the love of his life is dying, and there’s nothing he can do to save her. If you thought Ragnarok was just fluff, this one deals with some truly heavy plot elements.
But luckily, on the other side, we have Korg to brighten our day. And the return of Valkyrie in a fairly large role. Also, for those who remember the last time we saw Thor, this film does address Thor as a Guardian Of The Galaxy, and that whole squad (minus Gamora) is featured. There’s even a nice little surprise for the Guardians that i appreciated.
I have very few things to whine about. First, the screaming goats were a good gag that perhaps overstayed their welcome. Second, I appreciated the attempt to loop in Thor regulars played by Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgard, but their screentime is so limited it’s actually unfortunate, especially considering that Dennings was recently used in WandaVision. Skarsgard is reduced to essentially a voicemail or a zoom call.And, I didn’t appreciate that Taika brought back a long missing fan favorite to just tie up the loose end of them being alive. Like, fans of that character were waiting for their return this whole time, and Taika just said fuck you, and brought them back just to kill them off. Literally, when they are introduced, they are dying. So disappointing.
On the flip side, Russell Crowe was an unexpected delight, and a lot funnier than I thought he’d be. The mid credit sequence featured a nod to a character I’m certain will be important in the future. And, the film does have an ending that suggests a fifth film is necessary.
So, I mostly had a blast. Could Taika have tightened up some plot details? Sure. honestly, this film runs so tight, I’d be hard pressed to believe that an extra 5 or 10 minutes would have hurt this film. Backed with a great soundtrack, excellent audio description from a team that isn’t credited in the credits, and a plot mixing humor and drama equally, I really don’t know why this film disappointed anyone. Perfect? no. But I loved it anyway.
Final Grade: A-