RATING: 4.5 out of 5
Ever since the first “Iron Man” movie came out in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has enjoyed an unprecedented string of success and hasn’t looked back since. But if there was a “weak link” in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it would have to be the Thor franchise. While the first two movies, “Thor” and “Thor: The Dark World” weren’t terrible films, they pale in comparison to the other entries in the MCU. With a new director in Taika Waititi and a departure in tone from the previous installments, Marvel is banking on “Thor: Ragnarok” to buck that trend.
The good news for Marvel and for the fans as well is that “Thor: Ragnarok” is easily the best out of the series. It’s a well-made superhero film and it instantly cements itself as one of my personal favorites among the Marvel movies just from how funny it is. Now you might say, “E bakit lahat naman ng Marvel movies nakakatawa di ba?” And you’d be absolutely right. Pero eto naman ang tanong ko sayo, “NAKITA MO NA BA ANG PWET NI HULK?!” Because this movie is in that plane of comedy. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call it the funniest superhero movie of all-time. (Batman v Superman was unintentionally funny so hindi natin siya icoconsider.)
“Thor: Ragnarok” follows the story of the long-haired brothers Thor (Hemsworth) and Loki (Hiddleswift) as they try to save Asgard from an event called “Ragnarok” which might sound like a cute RPG from your childhood but it actually means the destruction of all life on Asgard. Hela (Blanchett), a former commander of Odin’s (Hopkins) armies was imprisoned by Odin himself when she got too drunk with power. But now with Odin weakening, she comes back to bring death and destruction and aims to take back what she believe is rightfully hers. (Basically parang yung ex mong baliw na ayaw kang tantanan at pilit kinukuha yung DVD niya ng One More Chance sa bahay mo. Sayo na yun! Wag mong ibibigay!) In the ensuing battle with her, Thor and Loki find themselves crashing on the planet Sakaar which they have to escape in order to save Asgard. But first they have to deal with the eccentric leader of the planet The Grandmaster (Goldblum) and his champion who just so happens to be none other than the Hulk (Ruffalo).
Though the previous Marvel films did well, there were still a lot of people who would complain on how these films sometimes try to be funny sometimes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because I’d much rather prefer that than a humorless superhero movie (Ahem Zack Snyder ahem ahem). But I think at this point it wouldn’t make sense to complain about it anymore since this is clearly the direction these movies are going. If you don’t like how they do these Marvel movies after 16 movies, then why bother seeing it, right? Para kang umorder ng Chicken Joy sa Jollibee pero magrereklamo ka kasi di ka naman pala mahilig sa manok. (Also, how dare you do that to my beloved Chicken Joy?!)
But some of these films got too absurd even for a superhero movie. Remember this scene from “Thor: The Dark World”?
There’s silly and then there’s stupid. Silly ain’t necessarily bad since this is a family movie anyway. But this scene, though it was intentionally put in for the laughs, was the latter. Bakit kailangan mag train ni Thor para puntahan yung kalaban niya?! Para saan pa ang mahiwagang martilyo niya kung ganun?! Also, bakit gumagana pa ang train na yan kung may alien invasion na nagaganap sa gitna ng London samantalang yung MRT natin huminto lang dahil sa diaper sa riles? (Not making this up, this was on the news this week.)
“Thor: Ragnarok”, taking a cue from the Guardians of the Galaxy series embraces the silliness and the result is a Thor character that is the most likable and relatable he’s been in all the five movies we’ve seen him. I think one of the reasons why the previous “Thor” movies weren’t as popular as the other Marvel movies is because Thor as a character was pretty boring. Aside from being muscular ano pa bang meron sa character niya? That’s basically it. And he speaks in such a way that would be a better fit in the Game of Thrones universe rather than the Marvel universe. Ganun talaga yung character niya e kaso it’s not exactly very interesting for viewers.
In this movie, binago nila yun. Chris Hemsworth as Thor is allowed to be charming and funny in just about the same way Tom Hiddleston was allowed to do so in the previous movies. Mark Ruffalo as Hulk was also great in this one and they finally decided to give the Hulk more speaking lines. He’s no longer just a raging gorilla at this point, he’s actually a character with a personality and a sense of humor. Jeff Goldbum as the Grandmaster was pretty funny as well but he was just basically playing a zanier version of himself that we’ve seen in previous films.
If there’s something in the movie that came a bit short for me, I think it would have to be the villain. Don’t get me wrong, Cate Blanchett is a TERRIFIC actress and I would actually watch a 2-hour movie na wala siyang ginagawa kung hindi manuod ng kumukulong tubig. (She might even win an Oscar for that hypothetical movie because she’s just that freakin’ good.) But with all the characters in the movie and with the focus on the relationship between Thor and Hulk and Thor and Loki, there just wasn’t enough time to develop her character any further. She’s great every time she’s onscreen, playing the part of Hela with charm and sex appeal yet still menacing. But the Hela character herself is pretty one-dimensional. Gusto lang niya ng revenge e ganun lang naman kasimple ang motivations niya. In that regard, wala siyang pinagkaiba sa mga kontrabida sa mga telenovela e. Which is why the Loki character is still the strongest villain in the MCU after 16 movies kasi si Loki ang daming layers ng character niya: merong mandaraya, merong seloso, merong power hungry, merong mabait.
But all in all, Thor: Ragnarok works because it was able to balance comedy and action perfectly. It was funny, but it never felt like the movie was trying too hard to be. Probably the one thing I liked about it the most is that director Taika Waititi was able to show us a Thor that we haven’t seen before. The decision to make him more easygoing, cut his hair short, and for him to lose his hammer paid off because it makes the audience more invested in his journey. It showed a vulnerability that we wouldn’t expect from the God of Thunder.
Thor: Ragnarok is now out in cinemas everywhere.
Photos courtesy of MARVEL STUDIOS