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In Impressive ‘Ragnarok,’ Thor Loses His Hammer but Scores a Sense of Humor

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“Thor: Ragnarok,” the third entry into the otherwise sub-par trilogy detailing the exploits of The Mighty Thor, reinvents the character of Thor Odinson, and takes him from being a boring white guy with a hammer, to being a funny white guy without a hammer. And for the most part, this tonal change works for the best, but it also holds the film back in certain areas, which I’ll address later.

From the first scene, Thor is more talkative compared to his past appearances, which didn’t bother me. (I always figured he has an insane inner monologue.) The movie does a good job of establishing this new personality early, and this way the changes feel less jarring. Utilizing Thor as a source of humor was definitely a characteristic that should’ve been present in the first two “Thor” movies, and director Taika Waititi shows us what we’ve been missing. But I can’t help feel sad thinking about what the last two movies had the potential to be. If I’m being honest, “Ragnarok” should’ve been the serious war epic, but because the last two films dropped the ball, here we are now. That said, I never thought I’d be reviewing a “Thor” movie as an action comedy.

Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston give good performances as always, but they don’t add anything new aside from being funnier than the last two films. Hemsworth is great with some of the comedic lines he’s given, but overall, it’s nothing groundbreaking. Hands down, my favorite character was Korg, played by the film’s director Taika Waititi. Korg is purely comic relief and has one of my favorite scenes toward the end of the movie, which perfectly sums up his character. His massive build, combined with the pure, light and unaltered voice of Waititi is so damn funny you’ll love every second he’s on the screen.

Of course, I can’t talk about this movie without mentioning the Planet Hulk-influenced subplot, which fits into the narrative nicely, as it gives Thor something to do for much of the second act. While I’m still on the topic of green giants, Mark Ruffalo gives his most convincing performance yet. As a character who feels out of his element with other humans, Bruce Banner flips his s**t when he’s stranded on an alien planet, having been stuck as the Hulk for the past two years. And unlike previous films, we get a slightly more intelligible Hulk, one who is fully capable of holding conversations with other characters, including Valkyrie, a disgraced warrior from Asgard.

As Valkyrie, Tessa Thompson is the most interesting character by far, and I’m not going to lie, her performance surprised me since the trailers give you no idea of what she’ll be like in the movie. To avoid any spoilers, I’ll just say she’s a lot of fun.

The two antagonists of the movie, Hela and the Grandmaster (played by Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum, respectively) are underutilized, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say Blanchett kills this role. She’s funny and scary as hell at the same time, and there are instances where I was sure nothing could stop her from meeting her goal. Goldblum is pretty much just … Jeff Goldblum. Every time he was onscreen I couldn’t help notice his dialogue was a bit reminiscent of a “Seinfeld” episode, but — surprise surprise — it just turns out Waititi told him to do whatever he wanted, which explains a lot. Jeez, this movie has too many people.

Remember earlier when I mentioned the tonal change of “Thor: Ragnarok” sometimes works against it? Simply put, there are way too many jokes in such a short amount of time. It’s not that they aren’t funny. Most of them are hilarious, but they’re told too quickly one after the other. So, even if something is funny, you probably won’t have time to think about it because they’ll be shooting out another joke every three seconds.

As someone who appreciates comedy, one of the most frustrating things I see in film is an over-abundance of jokes crammed in a small timeframe. This is one of the main reasons satirical films like 2007’s “Epic Movie” have all but died out, and filmmakers need to learn this lesson.

Another gripe I have with the movie is how the protagonist, Thor Odinson, is portrayed. At times, he behaves like a thundering dumbass, which seems out of character, and exists in the script only to provide cheap jokes.

From a technical standpoint, this film is super colorful compared to other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with most of the set designs involving a variety of patterns with bright colors. There’s an overabundance of “shot-reverse shot” when most characters are talking, but this film also employs some of the most impressive images I’ve ever seen in a Marvel movie. I would go into greater detail, but unfortunately, most of them are plot-specific spoilers, so I’ll hold my tongue … for now. As far as action scenes go, scenes with Hela are a bit more intense, as Hela’s main form of attack involves swords and daggers that she can form at will, so get ready to see a lot of stabbing. Action scenes with Thor aren’t very different from past films, although he fights with his fists since he loses his hammer at the end of the first act.

Overall, “Thor: Ragnarok” is an improvement over its predecessors in every way, and Korg alone makes this film worth the price of admission. It’s a (mostly) hilarious re-branding of an otherwise dull character that never feels boring and is sure to impress.

Kenneth, 17, a senior at Druid Hills, is still tired from writing about all of the characters in “Thor: Ragnarok.”

“Thor: Ragnarok” officially opens in theaters Friday, Nov. 3.

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