The latest instalment of Marvel’s cinematic franchise is upon us with Thor: Ragnarok. Since the film has been receiving a mixed reaction, Jessie and Alex have decided to debate their two conflicting viewpoints in a different style of review than usual.
Jessie: I felt the story could’ve been much better if it had dropped the cliché “villain/doomsday” plot. The only bits of the story I found myself enjoying were the slightly wackier hi-jinks and every time the villain storyline was brought back to the audience’s attention I felt the whole cinema shrug into an almost boredom. Another problem I had with the story was that it was completely over-flooded with “jokes”. From the very get-go, I rolled my eyes and said: “Oh, so it’s gonna be one of those movies…” I think I’d have found the actually funny jokes more impactful if they weren’t surrounded by a multitude of failed attempts.
Alex: The story is arguably Ragnorak’s weakest aspect but it’s more about the character interactions, jokes and pure sense of fun that carries the film instead of a multi-layered and complex story. From beginning to end, this film is fun. I’m surprised so many of the jokes didn’t land for you as this is the funniest Marvel film yet. Chris Hemsworth’s comedic chops were boasted in last years flawed Ghostbusters and he was the best part by far. The story takes a backseat here but I think this can be forgiven in lieu of what replaces it.
Jessie: As I am not a big Marvel fan the last films I saw featuring Thor were the films Thor and The Avengers, and it was strange to see a complete personality shift in him from well-rounded to idiotic. His character just came off as a complete slapstick airhead who couldn’t decide whether he begged to be played as a serious hero or a comic relief. I found other characters like ‘Valkyrie’ (whose given name in the film is so unmemorable that I couldn’t reference it here) to be well portrayed and I loved Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of Hela, though the character itself came across as very clichéd.
Alex: Thor has appeared in two films since The Avengers and these explain his shift in personality, living on Earth for two years. You’re confused about changes to his character but openly admit you haven’t seen every appearance of his. Everyone in this film was amazing. This is the best portrayal of Hulk by a long shot and, as you say, Valkyrie and Hela were excellent characters. Loki is also great, being his usual self but having his own character arc and becoming a valuable ally to Thor. Marvel does an amazing job of balancing several characters but giving them each individual storylines while having important contributions to the plot.
Audio and Visuals
Jessie: These are definitely the aspects of the film that I found most impressive. The soundtrack was very fitting to the action going on throughout the scenes, from the atmospheric and zany instrumental tracks to the iconic Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin, the soundtrack did its job to intrigue viewers. The use of slow motion in various scenes in the film was also very impressive, as well as some unique camera shots used that the Film Studies student in me absolutely loved. As far as audio and visuals go I am not sure how it could have been improved.
Alex: Immigrant Song is used to perfection in the film, employed in the same way Guardians of the Galaxy uses its music to mesh action and character symbolically. Oddly enough, your one positive may be one of my negatives. For the most part, the CGI is impeccable and Hulk improves from one film to the other. However, there are some noticeable green screen effects, notably on Hela’s introduction and her first scene in Asgard which can be distracting. Sakaar is an incredibly vibrant and striking planet and a fine contrast to Asgard and Midgard when they sparingly appear.
Jessie: This is where I find the biggest faults lie with Thor: Ragnarok. As I stated earlier, I am not a big Marvel fan and watching this film left me feeling confused at many parts with no context. I think a person should be able to watch a film without having to see every other movie or source material in that universe’s archive, especially one as huge as Marvel. If not for a comic-book-loving friend telling me the name of ‘Valkyrie’ I’d have never known her name because, really, who’s going to remember “Scrapper… Insert number here”? I also think this film could’ve worked phenomenally better as a TV series, if given the same budget, as it felt even more episodic than the usual superhero film, it would have also made the fact you need previous context more realistic.
Alex: I disagree. This is the seventeenth instalment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Missing a film is akin to missing an episode of a television show at this point. I can understand how this must be off-putting to some but to not watch all instalments of a character’s franchise is unwise. If every film has to be made as though no one has seen a previous entry, what’s the point of seeing the previous one if it’s not going to be built upon and further developed? Without seeing all of them, you are going to miss out on moments which harken back to other films, rewarding those loyal fans.
Overall, while we had contrasting views of Thor: Ragnarok, there is still fun to be had with it, even if there are flaws depending on your type of humour and what you want from a story. Your opinion is what matters to you ultimately.
By Jessie Paige and Alex Lewis