by Rob DiCristino and Adam Riske
Adam: Welcome to Reserved Seating. I’m Adam Riske.
Rob: And I’m Rob DiCristino. The seventeenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe™
Is Thor: Ragnarok. It stars Chris Hemsworth as the titular God of Hammers, Cate Blanchett as Hela, Goddess of Antlers, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, God of Unresolved Paternal Angst, and Mark Ruffalo as The Incredible Hulk. On this adventure, Thor returns to Asgard to find Loki posing as Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and lounging on his throne while the Nine Realms fall into chaos. Thor retrieves his father, who tells him and his brother that Hela will soon return from exile to unleash an apocalypse on their people. She does that (destroying Mjolnir while she’s at it) and the Odinsons wake up on Sakaar, a chaotic planet ruled by The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). The scavenger Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson) captures Thor, forcing him to fight Hulk, who’s been living on Sakaar the last two years as Grandmaster’s champion gladiator. Thor must escape Sakaar and assemble a team of warriors who can stop Hela before she destroys Asgard forever.
The funny and colorful Thor: Ragnarok is sure to be a top five Marvel film for many fans. Director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) slides comfortably into the MCU, bringing the same kind of warmth, wit, and spectacle that James Gunn gave to the Guardians of the Galaxy series. Ragnarok essentially uses that Guardians template to wipe Thor’s dour, overwrought slate clean. It’s a complete tonal reboot of both the character and the world that reflects a significant effort to align the “cosmic” side of the MCU (Thor, Guardians, Doctor Strange) into one cohesive aesthetic unit. Marvel clearly sensed their audience's ambivalence toward Shakespearean melodrama and decided to pull out all the stops to set the franchise on a new path by (literally) tearing down what they’d built and starting over. Ragnarok eagerly sheds — and, at several points, mocks — its mythology, presenting a looser and more charismatic Thor who talks to himself, flirts with girls, and seems to realize that this cape-and-hammer stuff is all a little silly.
Boy, I’ve been talking a lot! Sorry about that. Adam, what did you think of Thor: Ragnarok?
Adam: First off - thank you for writing the plot summary. I would have had no enthusiasm left for this review had I done that on my own. That’s not just to be a cheap joke; it’s a major complaint I have with the MCU films, which is that I don’t care about the plot in these movies except on rare occasions. They have great characters and that’s where I respond to them positively. Thor: Ragnarok is no exception. Hemsworth is better as Thor than he is as any other movie character. It’s perfect casting and a signature performance that’s a joy to watch. And I echo your statement on Tessa Thompson, who we’re both big fans of. She is a massive upgrade over Natalie Portman’s underwritten, slightly embarrassed take on her character from the previous two Thor films. I laughed a little at Goldblum, but he’s maybe just a hair too in on the joke for my personal preference. Funniest to me was Taika Waititi’s Korg -- moreso the delivery than the actual laugh lines. There’s a lot to enjoy in this movie when it’s played for comedy. One gripe: why isn’t Kat Dennings in this? She would fit in perfectly with this movie.
The Circle. #JusticeForMercer #I’mGoingToSignOffTwitterInHonorOfMercer #EveryoneWatchTheCircleSoYouGetTheseJokes.
When the movie is focusing on Thor, Banner/Hulk, Tessa Thompson, Jeff Goldblum, Taika Rock Creature, I’m good and the movie is fun, but again this is an ephemeral experience that only exists for me in the moment I watch it. I was hoping with Waititi it would break through into that same rarified Marvel air that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 or Captain America: The Winter Soldier does for me, but Thor: Ragnarok is mostly a typical Marvel movie. I don’t even know any more if I mean that as a positive or negative. They’re fun. They’re products. There are so many that it’s frustrating they mean so little. How many times will I watch the same thing before I have had enough? I know what spaghetti tastes like! Since I’m going Mark Ahn on the movie, I want to steer towards the positive a little. What were some of your favorite moments from Thor: Ragnarok?
Spiderman: Homecoming), I can understand why they say that. This is a really, really fun movie that taps into that simple, childlike joy we want to feel from comic books, and I absolutely cannot overlook that. Just because it’s way too goofy and self-aware for me to really get invested in doesn’t mean I don’t understand the appeal. Taika Waititi is an amazing creative force. The synth score is badass. Everyone is having fun. I have a gigantic crush on Tessa Thompson. Mark Ahn. #JusticeForMercer.
Adam: Don’t you mean a gigantic jawn? The best Marvel movie in years claim seems to come with every new Marvel movie (except I remember the pre-release buzz on Guardians Vol. 2 was that it was a stumble, which made it a nice surprise for me to see it wasn’t at all) and I guess that’s a testament that these films offer something different for everyone. I also agree with you entirely on Taika Waititi, who is a rare comedy filmmaker that is really funny without ever trying to be cool or vain. He’s just a silly guy and I love that so much about him. I prefer his last two films to Thor: Ragnarok, but that doesn’t mean I’m not happy he has gone mainstream. He deserves the attention (and money) that comes with being a part of the MCU. Maybe next time he can find a way to get Goldblum and Sam Neill in a scene together. This was a good conversation. I think I like the movie a little bit more now. Are you looking forward to next year’s MCU films - Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp? For me it’s yes, eh, no. I’m mostly just pumped for Black Panther because it’s any new Ryan Coogler movie and I’m becoming a Chadwick “Vontae Mack No Matter What” Boseman superfan. That guy can hella act. He should team up with Cate Blanchett for a spin-off called Hella Hela with a theme song sung by Ja Rule. I just read in Trivia that Blanchett did this movie for her kids and her son said it would be a career boost for her. That kid’s awesome.
Will Blanchett have the antlers in Hella Hela? Can Rihanna play her sidekick? She can remix “Umbrella” for the soundtrack. Either way, I’m in.
Adam: Me too, especially for your adds to Hella Hela. #HelaBackYoung’nWooooWoooo! Until next time…
Rob: These seats are reserved.