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Disappointing CGI Work Aside, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Succeeds With Humor and a Terrifying New Villain

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In theaters Nov. 2, “Thor: Ragnarok”  is the third of the Thor franchise and one of many films in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Thor (Chris Hemsworth) faces a new and terrifying enemy and we see more details of Asgard’s past. Without too many spoilers, this enemy comes from Norse mythology. The movie, written by Eric Pearson and directed by Taika Waititi, is Waitit’s first big budget Hollywood film, although he was nominated for an Academy Award for his short film “Two Cars, One Night” (2004) and directed two feature length films that were huge hits in his home country of New Zealand (“Boy” and “Hunt for the Wilderpeople.”)

Each of the three films in the “Thor” series has had a different director, giving them each a new feel. In the original 2011 “Thor,” we see the Norse god as more of a temperamental child then a potential king. He sees his ideas as the only ones that are valid and gets angry easily. In 2013’s “Thor: The Dark World,” he is a little more level headed and has obviously grown up a bit but still makes some reckless and careless decisions. Both movies have a fairly serious tone with a few jokes thrown in.

In this third movie, Thor cracks a joke at almost any opportunity, and the movie as a whole has a much lighter and sillier tone. One other key difference in this movie is that there isn’t a love interest. While Natalie Portman doesn’t return as Jane Foster, Thor does interact with a couple of the other Marvel characters. If you’ve seen the trailers, you know to expect the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) but the other character from the MCU isn’t who you might expect.  Without revealing any details, I want to say that this is my favorite Stan Lee cameo of all the current Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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My favorite new character in this film is Korg, played by director Taika Waititi. Korg has some fantastic lines, and amazing delivery.  Watch for the scene where Thor is trying to escape a prison, and Korg suggests he get advice from the dead guy in the corner, Doug. Shortly thereafter Korg declares “another day, another Doug.” Another brilliant scene is when Thor gets his new look that we see in the trailer — with a simple hair cut. Thor, tied down by captors, starts by threatening the barber saying, “I am Thor, the God of Thunder and if you touch my hair you will feel my wrath.” When this doesn’t stop the barber, Thor just begs, saying, “Please sir, don’t cut my hair.”

While I loved the jokes and the movie overall, I had a few problems with the film’s CGI or computer generated imagery.

The CGI used for the characters is fine with a few exceptions. The most disappointing CGI effects are almost anything in the background of the movie. In past Marvel movies and even the previous “Thor” movies, the CGI wasn’t great, but it was leagues above the CGI we see here. At one point in the movie, Thor goes to Norway. There, the background for every shot is either an ocean or mountains depending on which angle the camera is pointing. These shots are absolutely atrocious. They are obviously very fake and it’s not hard to see the green screen lines where the movie crew cut in the background and put it behind the actors. A few of the shots in these scenes are also extremely blurry. Some other parts of the movie have decent CGI, but it’s extremely inconsistent. In addition to the background shots, one character’s bleeding wound also looks completely fake.

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While “Thor: Ragnarok” is very funny, I’m still sad that Marvel couldn’t do better with the makeup or the CGI.  Still, it’s great to see a film focused on Thor again after a four-year wait. This movie is more fun than the first Thor feature film, and miles ahead of the disappointing “Thor: The Dark World.” If you’re a fan of the current MCU, then this movie is absolutely worth your time and money. While it does have some pretty bad CGI in the background, it doesn’t ruin the movie as a whole. I am looking forward to seeing it again as soon as it hit theaters this weekend.

Jonah, 15, attends Tapestry Public Charter School and his favorite band is Gorillaz.

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