Thor: Ragnarok: The MCU Has Finally Driven Me to the Brink of Madness

Thor: Ragnarok Plot Summary:

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) unlocks a potential world ending threat to Asgard known as Ragnarok.  In doing so, an ancient enemy (Cate Blanchett) from Odin’s (Anthony Hopkins) past maroons Thor on an unknown planet where he must escape to save Asgard once more.

I’m not trying to be overly dramatic. I’m being 100% honest. This isn’t just for schick. If I weren’t reviewing this film, I would have walked out of Thor: Ragnarok after five minutes. I can’t keep doing this to myself. These aren’t movies anymore. They are parodies. They are Saturday Night Live sketches. I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. These movies have such a power over everyone, but it’s the same thing over and over and over and over again. All I can do is explain why that is and hope someone out there listens.

I knew in the first two minutes. Yup. It’s Marvel. Thor is hanging from a chain while he talks to a big dumb CGI villain. The villain is giving some generic world ending speech. In the middle of it, Thor spins around the chains and yells something akin to, “Oh wait, I have to spin around. Can’t see you.”  The audience laughs. Hahaha. So clever! That’s the movie. That’s what it is.

I kept being told about director Taika Waititi’s unique style of humor, but this was fairly average.  Let’s see, we get anus jokes. Slime jokes. Puns. Slap stick shenanigans. Oh, and Jeff Goldblum mocks Asgard by calling it “Assgard.” Oy vey.

Again, these are skits. Thor and Loki are in New York as these girls come up to them to get a selfie with Thor. A selfie. I know this next statement will irritate people, but I’ve got to be honest. This movie is technically in the same genre as The Dark Knight and Logan. Yup. I went there, and I don’t care. You can tweet me @dcohenwriter.

The real problem with the humor though is the same problem it is with Doctor Strange, Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Ant-Man, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, take your pick. It’s constant. They can never just let a scene breathe. There’s definitely a few nice moments between Thor and Loki, or Thor and Hulk. Whenever you think these characters are going to act like human beings and have an actual moment, they ALWAYS pepper in a joke. It’s clockwork. There ALWAYS has to be something funny happening. Even when Thor and Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, are having a pure plot conversation, Hulk HAS to be bouncing a ball against the wall in the background. Cut me a break.

Chris Hemsworth is fine. He carries the movie adequately, but I honestly have nothing else to say.  Chris Hemsworth has natural charisma, but can we stop pretending he’s a comedic genius? Tessa Thompson definitely has some clever scenes surrounding a drinking problem, but even she was underutilized.  She’s a far more interesting character than Thor though, which works for and against the film.

I was dreading Tom Hiddleston in this movie. The Loki character has been really grating on me. Surprisingly, they toned him down. I do appreciate Waititi for that. To be honest, Loki is kind of pathetic here. Everyone is wise to his tricks. Again, Loki’s character leads to bad humor. Not only is the comedy not clever, but it’s painfully predictable. In the big Thor/Hulk fight, Hulk smashes Thor just like he does Loki in the iconic scene from The Avengers.  Oh.  Do you think Loki is going to make a joke about that? Yup. Here it comes! Again, Oy vey.

Hulk was solid. At one point he’s in a hot tub and gets out naked. Hilarious. Then he puts on a towel.  Cute, Marvel. Real cute. I appreciated Mark Ruffalo, but he doesn’t get a chance to do much, and is even relegated to cringe-worthy physical comedy. Hulk was at least entertaining. They could have had some real powerful moments between him and Thor, but of course they opt for the characters to argue like children instead.

The best performance is obviously Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster, but even he can’t save it. Goldblum at least offers a weird, off-kilter vibe that this movie sorely lacked, and something I thought was going to be more prevalent. Then we get the obligatory Stan Lee cameo that made me want to shove mjolnir in my mouth. There’s also a big cameo in here that’s played for laughs, but given recent news, it’s pretty ill-timed, and you could feel that from some of the audience members in the theater. Yikes.

Then we get to Cate Blanchett. This was the villain everyone has been waiting for, right? Nope. She’s just another Marvel villain. Sorry, everyone. Throw her in the generic juice mixer with Ronan, Malekith, Guy Pierce, the yellow jacket guy and whoever the villain was in Doctor Strange, I don’t remember. Of course Blanchett has a presence about her that seeps through by pure accident, but they have nothing for her. So what do they do? They just Marvelize her. Her tone and the way she delivers certain lines is just like any other fast talking, jokey Marvel character we’ve seen a hundred times over.

You know what else we’ve seen a hundred times? This plot. The villain wants to take over everything, whatever, the end.  This makes the climax so drawn out and boring. We know what the big fights are going to be. The action just washes over you. I give them credit for a decent twist at the end, but again, it’s downplayed by jokes. It just never ends. The one scene I genuinely liked was between Thor, Loki and Odin. Finally, an emotional moment they don’t undercut with a joke.

We’ve come to the point where these movies aren’t even that entertaining. They bore me in the same way a Pirates or Transformers movie would, but they have better acting. To the people who love these movies, I pose this simple question: Is it really still fun? Honestly. Haven’t you had enough? If not, I’m jealous. I wish I could get the enjoyment that everyone else does.

It’s the same damn thing.  Nothing is unique or original here. It’s Marvel. I can’t fault Kevin Feige and crew for continuing to pump out the same thing. You can’t argue with critical and financial success.  They could try and make a bad ass, serious Thor movie if they wanted to, but they opt for the safe, “let’s just have fun” approach. Again, I can’t fault them.

At some point, I have to accept these are kids movies. There’s a rock creature voiced by Waititi himself. He’s overflowing with cuteness and likability to the point where he just becomes obnoxious.  At the end of the film he holds a cute little pink slime dog for everybody to “Oooo” and “Ahhh” at.  Again, these are for kids.

I’m not against humor. I’m not against fun. All I ask is that you try and make it smart like James Gunn does with Guardians of the GalaxyThor: Ragnarok isn’t smart. It’s passable sitcom writing. At one point, Thor says “You’re the worst.”  It’s a lot of easy jokes. That’s the Marvel way, and until people stop liking it, that will never change.

These movies are my damn Ragnarok.

Rating: 5 out of 10 (Barely Passable Entertainment)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

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