Thor: Ragnarök – The Phone-In Movie
– A Hero Corner review by David 2
Movie studios love making trilogies. Sometimes they get it right. Other times, they don’t.
Sometimes a trilogy starts great, does okay in the second one, and then the best is the last.
Unfortunately, all too often, the trilogy starts strong, does okay for the second one, and then the third becomes “Oh god put us out of our misery!”
This is one of those trilogies.
“Thor: Ragnarök” is a 2017 film by Marvel Studios starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Keith Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Tessa Thompson, and Anthony Hopkins. It also includes brief appearances by Tadanobu Asano, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Benedict Cumberbatch, Stan Lee, Luke Hemsworth, and Matt Damon.
The movie starts with Thor (Hemsworth) already in a cage in what appears to be Hell. He talks with Surtur, the demon lord of the realm of Muspelheim. Thor engages in a long and boring rant about how Odin (Hopkins) is not in Asgard anymore and how he supposedly went looking for Infinity Stones (supposedly after “Avengers: Age of Ultron”) but couldn’t find any. (You didn’t look in Xandar, did you, Thor? Or Knowhere? Or Kamar-Taj?) Surtur then says that it is soon time for Ragnarök, the prophesized end days when he unites with the Eternal Flame and destroys Asgard once and for all.
Oh, but wait, this was all just a trick. Thor was just stalling for time until his trusty hammer Mjolnir can join in and free him. And then Thor destroys Surtur and reduces him to his metal crown.
Thor takes the crown to Asgard and discovers that Heimdall (Elba) is missing. He was “fired” by Odin. In his place is Skurge (Urban), who pretty much is a failure at anything he does. Thor heads to the palace where Odin is watching a poor re-enactment of Loki’s death scene from “Thor: The Dark World”. Thor is not impressed by the bad actors playing himself (Hemsworth’s own brother Luke) and Loki (Matt Damon) and decides to end the “real charade” by throwing Mjolnir out and then bringing it back so it will go through his father’s chest. It is then that “Odin” reveals himself to be Loki (Hiddleston), which is something we all knew from the end of “The Dark World”.
Loki tells Thor that he put their father someplace “safe” on Earth, but that place ends up being destroyed. It is then that Loki is abducted, and Thor gets a note to visit the New York Sanctum. There, he meets Doctor Strange (Cumberbatch), who returns Loki to him and casts a spell that sends them both to Odin’s true location.
On the cliffs of Norway, Odin tells his two sons that his time is done. He is dying. Ragnarök will soon happen, and when he dies, their older sister Hela (Blanchett) will be free. Neither of them knew they had an older sister. Odin says that was deliberate. He rewrote history to exclude her existence because of what she did. Odin fades away and Hela arrives. Thor throws Mjolnir at her, but she catches it in midair and she shatters the supposedly unbreakable hammer. Thor and Loki try to escape through the Bifrost Bridge, but Hela catches up with them and scatter them in space.
Hela arrives on Asgard and expects the Asgardians to be grateful. Instead, they try to stop her. She eliminates the Warriors Three (Asano, Levi, Stevenson) with ease and then promotes Skurge to be her “Executioner”. Heimdall steals the Bifrost sword and tries to lead others to safety.
Thor lands on a planet called Sakarr, which is full of junk. He is captured by 142 (Thompson) whom he later discovers is a former Valkyrie. He is given a cheap introduction to Sakarr by way of a cheap video and a “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory” song (no, really, it is) before being introduced to the Grandmaster (Goldblum). 142 says Thor is a fighter, and he is made ready for “the games”. This includes getting his long hair cut short, given some war paint, and some cheap armor. He is put in the arena, where he sees Loki sitting next to the Grandmaster. He is then given his opponent… The Hulk (Ruffalo). Thor is first overjoyed at seeing Hulk, but then realizes that Hulk loves fighting and is ready to kill Thor. Thor gets the upper hand when he starts wielding lightning without his hammer, but the Grandmaster tazzes Thor into unconsciousness.
Wait… what? The God of the Thunder, using lightning without his hammer, gets tazzed?
Thor wakes up in Hulk’s chambers as Hulk enjoys his “victory”. Hulk – who now talks in childish sentences – explains that he’s been there since “Age of Ultron” through one of the large portals that dumps everything onto the planet. Thor gets Hulk to show him where the Quinjet was, and he goes there. Thor thinks he can use the Quinjet to escape, but Hulk smashes it. Then he sees a video of Black Widow from “Age of Ultron” begging him to come home, and Hulk changes back to Bruce Banner.
Banner explains that Hulk has been in control ever since they arrived on Sakarr, which was over two years. The Grandmaster sends 142 and Loki to find them, but Loki forces 142 to remember what happened when she was a Valkyrie and the loss of her sisters at the hands of Hela. 142 captures Loki and the two join Thor and Banner to escape. Loki tries to betray Thor again, but Thor then uses the control devices that he removed off himself and put it on Loki to tazze him.
Banner, 142, and Thor arrive on Asgard just as Hela and Kruge are ready to slaughter Heimdall and the refugees. Thor confronts Hela in the throne room, where the two battle and Thor loses his right eye. Thor visited by the spirit of Odin, who tells Thor that Mjolnir was never the source of his power. It was merely a means to focus the power he was born with. He also tells Thor that Ragnarök is inevitable.
Hela unleashes everything she has against the refugees. The battle is soon joined by Loki and the arena fighters who staged a rebellion on Sakarr. Kruge, seeing what is happening, decides to become a hero… and then dies as one.
Banner transforms into the Hulk to stop Hela’s monsters. Thor tells Loki to take Surtur’s crown and put it in the Eternal Flame at the bottom of the palace. Loki get the crown but pauses in front of the Tesseract (the first Infinity Stone from “The Avengers”).
Soon Surtur is resurrected, much to Hela’s dread, and he destroys Asgard and Hela. Thor, 142, Loki, Hulk, Heimdall, and the refugees all escape in the Grandmaster’s ship, which now becomes “New Asgard”. Thor becomes king of the refugees and he decides to take them all to Earth.
In a mid-credit scene, we see the ship encounter a much larger vessel. In a post-credit scene, we see the Grandmaster no longer in power and encountering his former subjects.
There. I just saved you a Netflix viewing.
Despite all the action that I just described, the movie felt like it was phoned-in. There were way too many convenient things that just “happened”. The Warriors Three were dispatched way too easily. These were the best warriors in all the Nine Realms, and they each get killed off in a half-a-second. Skurge was just too much of a loser and a failure to want to root for him in the end. He was nothing like “The Executioner” as seen in the comics. Blanchett’s Hela was a bit over-the-top as a villain. This was not someone that looked or acted like she wanted to rule Asgard. She looked like she was ready to dish out Ragnarök herself.
Odin “just dies”? What? Thor gets tazzed after showing off his inborn lightning powers? Hulk “just arrives” on Sakarr after “Age of Ultron”? There were far too many things that “just happened”.
Goldblum’s Grandmaster was, perhaps, played just right, which seems strange to say given how the rest of his scenes were done. It was clear that the director wanted this to be a “Planet Hulk” story, which was why they used Sakarr and the gladiatorial games and we saw more of Hulk than we wanted to see. But I’ve seen a better version of that comic story as an animated movie. It just didn’t seem right as part of a Thor movie.
I know some people think that this was the best of the Thor movies, but, for this reviewer, this was one of the worst. It was Marvel’s version of “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace”. It had good ideas, but they really didn’t put too much work on them, and it showed. The only good thing about it was that they set the stage for that next “big team-up movie”.