Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum, Cate Blanchett, Taika Waititi’s Voice
November 3rd, 2017 (US Premiere)
Summary for Moms:
Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth) has traveled the cosmos in search of the legendary Infinity Stones. Having found none, he turns his attention to defeating Surtur, the demon prophesized to bring about Ragnarok, the end of Asgard. Upon defeat, Surtur reveals to Thor that Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is no longer on Asgard. Thor returns to find his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) at the helm. After a brief spat, they locate Odin, who reveals the existence of their heretofore unknown sister Hela (Cate Blanchett). Upon Odin’s death, she arrives to take control of Asgard and banishes Thor and Loki to Sakaar, a planet on the far reaches of space and under the boot of the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). Once there, Thor is enslaved and must fight for his freedom in gladiatorial games. Aided by a fallen Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), his friends Korg (Taika Waititi’s voice) and Miek, as well as the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor attempts to escape and save Asgard from Hela before it’s too late.
There’s a lot going on in this movie, and with good reason. Thor 2 was a disaster area of acting, story and lackluster villains all around. So Marvel’s drastic course correction with Thor: Ragnarok makes a lot of sense, but could have been a failure if they hadn’t chosen the right person to man the helm. Luckily, they managed to snag New Zealand Treasure Taika Waititi, known for his smaller films What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople, both of which I highly recommend. That being said, I was eager to show Ragnarok to my mom to hear her take on this new direction, which hews closer to the strange, balls-to-the-wall comedic sensibilities of Guardians of the Galaxy. Also, since she knew nothing about the film, I wanted to see her reaction to the big cameo reveal in the middle. You know the one.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, her reactions straddled the line between her muted appreciation for Guardians of the Galaxy and her more enthusiastic embracing of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. She was amused by a lot of the opening jokes, especially Thor’s initial handling of Loki and the subsequent appearance of Doctor Strange. There were a few that fell flat for her, mostly involving Karl Urban’s Skurge. She also appreciated Thor’s treatment on Sakaar, and was surprised by the always lovely Jeff Goldblum in a gold leaf bathrobe as the Grandmaster (who wore it better, Goldblum or Snoke?). These are the parts where Waititi makes the movie his own and it shows brilliantly.
On the other hand, Hela, played to the utmost vampiness by Cate Blanchett, is separated from Thor’s story for the vast majority of the film, which does slow it down and prevents her from being a fully-realized villain. My mom followed her scenes, which were mostly pure exposition, but was much less engaged with that aspect of the story.
It was Sakaar that took center stage, as it should have, especially when things come to a head in the big arena reveal. I was on the edge of my seat to see how my mom would react to the Hulk showing up. She wasn’t aware of any of the trailers or marketing that had spoiled this for months in advance, so I was expecting her to be surprised. But… she kinda shrugged it off. I had to ask her point blank if she had expected that, but she only responded: “No, but it was interesting.” I suppose I was asking too much.
After the Hulk jumps in on the fun, the film barrels toward the ending with little to no time for the audience to catch its breath, and it does so spectacularly. It was the final fight scenes with Hela that really caught my mom’s attention, especially once the stakes were raised when Thor’s eye got unceremoniously removed. She could hardly believe that Hela would do that to her brother, so maybe she missed the entire point of the character.
Thor: Ragnarok was an enjoyable ride that refreshes the God of Thunder due to the handling a superb outside-of-the-box director. Much like Guardians, my mom liked that they made it funny, but it didn’t fully drag her in as other movies did and her response was not as enthusiastic as I was hoping it would be. But after last week’s fiasco with Spider-Man: Homecoming, I’m taking this as a win. Any negative points are probably due to the fact that while Hela was a good villain, she wasn’t particularly effective in any significant narrative way, having been split off from the main story. Also bonus points for Jeff Goldblum all around.
Mom Rating (Out of Five):
- My mom didn’t recognize Matt Damon at all.
- She didn’t have any particular comments on Korg and Miek, but loved “Piss off, ghost!”, because that will always be funny.
- Between Valkyrie and Jessica Jones, my mom seems to really appreciate ladies who can get their drink on. But she often lectures me on the dangers of alcoholism.
- After getting through all these movies and shows, I think she actually prefers the Television Series to the movies. Decompressed, longer arc storytelling seems to engage her more than quick 2 hour bursts. Or maybe she only has enough patience for 45-minute blocks.
- I know, you guys probably want us to do Black Panther while it’s in theaters, not to mention Infinity War, but we’re going to wait until those come out on digital or BluRay because (a) my mom doesn’t like going to theaters and (b) it’s a lot easier to discuss and watch her reactions at home rather than in a dark, crowded theater.
- But, for the record, I’ve seen Black Panther twice already and I already have my tickets for Infinity War… so I’m set.
- If you can’t wait and would like to hear my thoughts on Black Panther (and my voice), check out the guest spot I did on the Podcast Wrong Reel. I’ve done several on Marvel and Star Wars movies, and I’m definitely going back for Infinity War.
- This section changed from ‘Miscellaneous Notes’ to ‘Shameless Plugs’ so quickly I didn’t even notice.
Post Credit Sequences:
- She was intrigued by the appearance of Thanos’ spaceship at the end, but wasn’t clear on exactly what it meant. To be honest, when I watched it I wasn’t 100% sure it was Thanos either. There’s no real indication.
- She enjoyed the Grandmaster getting his comeuppance.