Well. That was fun.
Thor: Ragnarok is two hours and ten minutes long. It doesn’t feel like two hours and ten minutes. Heck, it doesn’t even feel like one hour. It feels like you are watching the greatest D&D campaign of your life play out in the big screen and the DM is just adding more and more ridiculous things — “So now Hela has a giant wolf with her and an army of undead warriors whom you have to fight” “Okay, now you have to steal the Grandmaster’s pleasure ship” “Alright, now you have to start Ragnarok” — and it all works. All of it.
I am a huge fan of Walt Simonson’s run on The Mighty Thor, where he managed to write an epic story about Surtur, Ragnarok, and Asgard. This movie is not that. This movie could never be Walt Simonson’s epic tale, because that tale required a long time to set up. If the first Thor had begun Simonson’s epic story, then the third one would finally be the one where Thor, Loki, and Odin fight Surtur. But it isn’t, because this movie has no problem with not being Simonson’s epic story. It merely takes the trappings of his story and uses them for its own story and that’s a great thing. Being a slave (sorry, “prisoner with a job”) to someone else’s story would never have worked — too many things were different, not enough had been set up — but telling your own tale while simultaneously nodding towards the older stories works wonderfully.
And believe me, Thor: Ragnarok has its own story to tell. In fact, it has lots of stories to tell. It’s overflowing with stories. There’s the story of Ragnarok — which, actually, isn’t the main story — and then there’s the story of Hela, the Goddess of Death, who is Odin’s firstborn daughter and his former Executioner and helped Odin build Asgard on blood and death until he exiled her and then there’s the story of Loki, always helping and then betraying his brother (and yes, he probably stole the Tesseract in the end, too) and then there’s the story of Bruce Banner, who woke up after two years to find that he wasn’t in the driver’s seat after all, but locked in the trunk of his own mind and then there’s the story of Valkyrie, who lost all her sisters a long time ago and has been drinking herself to death ever since and then there’s the story of Thor.
All of those stories could have been their own movies. Thor: Ragnarok gives each of them just the right amount of time while building itself up to an abso-fucking-lutely crazy climax. There were moments I could predict — “She gains her power from Asgard” pretty much means that Asgard has to be destroyed — and then there were moments that I was completely shocked — Thor loses an eye! The movie doesn’t end with Asgard rebuilt at all, but the Asgardian survivors on a ship to Earth. (Also, I didn’t see Hela die, so she’s totally still alive. I hope. Cate Blanchett was having the time of her fucking life playing Hela.)
There were moments when the humor didn’t quite hit and then there were moments when it made me laugh so hard. Loki’s “I’ve been falling for thirty minutes!” Bruce hitting the Bifrost with a splat. Everything the Grandmaster did. The very sly mention of Loki turning Thor into a frog (I want to see Frog Thor!). The story Thor tells about when they were children and Loki turned into a snake, “because he knew I loved snakes,” and Thor picked him up and then Loki turned back into Loki and yelled “It’s me!” and stabbed him. (Can we get more Kid Thor and Kid Loki stories, please?) Everything having to do with Korg and Miek.
There are a lot of small things I liked in this film, too:
- There is absolutely no romance, aside from a few sly looks between Thor and Valkyrie.
- Odin’s death scene was absolutely beautiful.
- Hela’s new backstory made a fuckton of sense. And the fact that Odin basically did to Thor in the first film what he did to Hela in the past (exiled them due to their arrogance/thirst for war), except Thor learned the lesson and Hela didn’t.
- The fact that Loki is the one who brought about Ragnarok. Because Loki always brings about Ragnarok.
- And the entire fact that Ragnarok was a good thing.
I felt as if the whole movie was saying “You like the status quo? But the status quo is boring. Things are better when they change. Let’s change things up. BOOM! EXPLOSIONS! See? Isn’t that better?”
Yes, movie. Yes it is.
And now I want a movie about the Asgardian survivors settling in on Earth. C’mon, Marvel, give us one more.