After missing on first two Thor movies, ‘Ragnorok’ emerges as a pleasant surprise - The Buffalo News

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After missing on first two Thor movies, ‘Ragnorok’ emerges as a pleasant surprise

I’ve always considered the "Thor" movies to be the weaker entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and despite the sheer quality of most other films in the franchise, 2013’s "Thor: the Dark World" although not terrible, might’ve been the worst of them. So naturally, I was a little skeptical that Thor’s third solo outing would still come up short. As presumptuous as that was, I’m glad to say I was wrong.

"Thor: Ragnorok" begins with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returning to Asgard after escaping capture on a distant, fiery planet. Upon his arrival, it becomes clear that Asgard is not the same as when Thor left it. Odin is not acting as responsibly as usual, for the nine realms he governs are in complete chaos and he doesn’t seem to care.

Loki then reveals himself, as he used his powers to impersonate Odin, for his status.

Realizing his fun is over, Loki (with assistance from a Doctor Strange cameo) shows Thor where Odin actually is, peacefully admiring the view of the ocean from a cliff top.

It is here where Hela (Cate Blanchett), Odin’s child before Thor, and goddess of death, comes to interrupt their reunion.

Facing much resistance, Hela makes quick work of both Thor and Loki, as they are left stranded on a distant planet while Hela takes control of a now-defenseless Asgard, as she aims to use the titular event of "Ragnarok" to rule all nine realms that were once under Odin’s control.

Although at this point the plot has barely gotten going, it is already apparent that this film is worlds away from both previous Thor movies. Not only is the tone much lighter, with Thor and Loki’s personalities and relationship being used for comedic effect almost every other line, but Thor’s sister, Hela, is actually a strong villain, something the previous Thor films were in dire need of.

Cate Blanchett does an incredible job at being both charismatic and jovial while staying intimidating. Her ambitions and motivation are also made abundantly clear, which is much appreciated, because it assures the audience of just how high the stakes are, and in turn, why our heroes need to stop her.

Speaking of heroes, Thor and Loki are written very well. The former has lightened up a lot since his debut almost 10 years ago, showing his sense of humor in a way that makes it a little more prominent than in previous films. That, coupled with Chris Hemsworth’s performance, makes Thor a much more compelling protagonist than ever before, making him a delight to watch. Similarly, Tom Hiddleston is cunning like always as Loki, although he tries to do what’s right, he can’t escape his fiendish nature, leading to many great lines and comedic scenes.

As has always been par for the course in Marvel Cinematic Universe films, the action scenes and special effects are impeccable. Similar to the "Guardians of the Galaxy" entries in the franchise, there are many intricate spaceship fight scenes that serve to both reinforce the characters’ personalities, and to provide an action scene that is both unique and interesting. CGI is used liberally throughout the film, but although I would have appreciated some more practical effects, the computer-generated ones are really in no way distracting, and actually serve to benefit many scenes.

Finally, the plot itself, while very involved and kind of complicated, never feels disjointed or underexplained. That being said, there is also very little obvious exposition given by characters that is not absolutely necessary, meaning that audiences can easily follow what would typically be a very congested, overly busy storyline, and without being condescended to.

After seeing this film I was glad I came into it with a little skepticism, as I could leave all preconceived notions about Thor films at the door.

This film has three very well-executed leads who are not only written well, but given dedicated performances that make it clear that their actors are invested in them; and an engaging but involved plot bolstered by equally alluring action scenes and special effects that make "Thor: Ragnarok" not only the best Thor film, but also a high ranking entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Quinn Zack is a junior at Hamburg High School.

 

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