On Tuesday we attended the very first screening in the UK for Thor: Ragnarok. In a packed London cinema, Disney opened by playing us the Black Panther and Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailers at a roaring volume – giving both a grand weight and impact, and acting as a great warm-up for what we were about to see.
Following this was a short video of Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo, filmed just for us. In this they apologised for not being able to attend our screening and poked fun at each other the whole time.
The good news is Thor: Ragnarok a fun and vibrant Thor film – it’s easily the best of the three and it’s a welcome adrenaline shot for the franchise.
Below, I highlight the three things that impressed me the most about Taika Waititi’s hilarious and retro Marvel entry.
Expect minor spoilers only.
The film has several marvellous fight scenes. More than one of these are complimented by Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ – an overused song in cinema, for sure, but one that suits these moments so well (right down to it’s Nordic-themed lyrics) that you can forgive that.
Marvel are well known for impressive fight scenes – handling both choreography and special effects with expert grace. But these aren’t the kind of fight scenes you’ve seen in any Thor (or Avengers) film before. They’re magnificently executed, to the point where they are, sometimes, genuinely spine-tingling to behold. And, importantly, many of them are without Mjolnir – meaning you get to see the God of Thunder truly love up to his name.
Remember that Darth Vader corridor scene in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and how, even upon first seeing it, you had an immediate urge to rewatch it? That’s the same urge I got here, with a fight towards the beginning of the film and another towards the end, amidst the grand third act conclusion.
Add to that Thor’s brutal bout with Hulk in the middle of the film and you’ll come to realise that Taika has spoiled us immensely when it comes to glorious fight scenes and inventive action.
I’ve been a dedicated fan of Taika Waititi’s since before Marvel ever knocked on his door, so his input here was of paramount importance to me – even more important than getting to see the latest Marvel film before everyone else.
When you think of Taika, you always think of comedy. His films have masses of heart too, but comedy is and always had been his playground and even from the early Thor: Ragnarok trailers and short films, we knew that comedy was one huge thing that Taika was bringing to the table here.
It’s obvious, even from early on in the film, that Taika was very evidently given heaps of freedom here – his unique New Zealand comedy shines bright, hitting the right notes most of the time. But not always – as much as I adore his humour, sometimes it did feel a little out of place to me.
Many of the jokes comes from the rock monster Korg (whom himself Taika plays) and he’s often very funny, but it’s this character – with his simple-minded outlooks and Kiwi-drawl – who sometimes feels a little out of place in a grand scale Marvel film.
When Taika applies his comedy to other characters, like Thor or Bruce, that’s when the magic happens. Often this occurs in the form of things going wrong – there’s a certain scene, for example, where Bruce intends one outcome and it goes very wrong indeed, to hilarious effect.
Part of me would have preferred that Taika had stayed away from titanic studios like Disney and Marvel, but I’m also really glad that this film exists. I’m happy that it’s opened the world’s eyes to his skills and will no doubt spawn an army of new Taikapaths upon its release.
The last Valkyrie
Above all else, Valkyrie stole the show for me. I really didn’t expect to like Tessa Thompson’s character this much, so she really took me by surprise.
She’s one of the Valkyrior of Asgard – group of warrior goddesses who (in Norse mythology) appear over the battlefields to decide who among the fallen deserve to be taken to Valhalla. The last of her kind, she survived the ancient war against Hela (which we get to see glimpses of and it really is the most beautiful visual you’ve ever seen in any Marvel film) and decided to leave Asgard and all of its politics behind, choosing life as a bounty hunter on Sakaar instead.
She’s a drinker – she carries booze often, swigging as she walks, and at one point downs a whole bottle in a few seconds. And even while clearly drunk, she can still (with the help of some tech and her ship) take out whole groups of enemies. All of this gives her character a wonderful, careless roguishness – the exact opposite of what you’d expect from a noble Valkryie.
When she’s in her white-gold Valkyrie armour, she’s truly something to behold. You see this both in a flashback of the war against Hela and towards the end of the film, when she dons her armour once more. Add to all of this her charming friendship with The Hulk, her fearlessness in the face of anyone (at one point she takes out a whole fleet of ships by leaping from one to the other) and the way she truly feels part of the team by the end of the film, and I was left with a character that I’m dying to see more of.
Have you grabbed your tickets for Thor: Ragnarok yet? Have these three things made you even more excited for the film? Let us know in the comments section below.
Image credits: Marvel, Disney