Movie Review: Thor Ragnarok

There comes a time with a series that you can begin to have too much success. Where people begin to take your skill and craftsmanship for granted. It’s the same thing that happened to Pixar. We all became so used to Pixar churning out great movies year after year, that those movies began to feel less great.

“Huh. Another fantastically animated, wonderfully scripted movie with superb character development. Par for the course, Pixar. Try to wow us next time.”

I believe Marvel is doing the same thing. They’ve got a recipe, and they’re sticking to that recipe fairly faithfully for the most part. So the question then becomes, where do you go from there?

Obviously one approach is to start making some bad movies. Pixar did that with The Good Dinosaur, though people watched it and ended up blaming Disney more for that movie than Pixar. “A *bad* Pixar movie? It must not have been Pixar, because those movies are always great by default.”

Marvel has come up with a new approach: stick the recipe for the most part, but inject different flavors. Guardians of the Galaxy is a great example of this. It took the superhero movie and inject craziness and a killer soundtrack. Antman turned into a heist movie. Spiderman: Homecoming is the high school flavor. Marvel is doing riffs on a theme at this point, and surprisingly, that’s working really well.

Enter Taika Waititi, a director known for quirky comedy. His What We Do in the Shadows is flat out awesome. The Office meets Dracula. And Marvel hired him to . . . direct the third Thor movie? You know they had to have done it on purpose. He’s got a style that’s unique, and they handed him the keys to Thor, a series that has been one of my least favorite Marvel films thus far. It’s taken itself too seriously, just like its titular character.

I took the kids to watch Thor: Ragnarok last week, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It’s quirky and funny, peppered with characters that are oddballs. It’s got a lot of humor, some great action pieces, and I really recommend it. That said, I walked away only giving it a 7/10. Why? Because the quirkiness wasn’t quite enough to really set it apart from the other Marvel movies. It was another well produced superhero film. The quirkiness kept it from feeling tired, but it didn’t raise it to a new level, if that makes sense.

(Also, as a side note, this was my first movie I went to in a theater since I got my projector at home. And in the middle of the movie, I found myself wishing the screen were bigger, like the one I have at home. It’s all about perspective and seating distance, folks.)

So good on Marvel for keeping up the quality. I’ll gladly continue to keep paying for it. But I am beginning to wonder how much more they have left in the tank. At some point, things turn from “another quality Marvel movie” into “just another quality Marvel movie,” and from there it’s not too far to “just another Marvel movie,” which is followed by people not showing up at all. Something to think about.

Some odds and ends:

  • I wish they hadn’t spoiled the appearance of one of the Avengers in the film. That reveal would have been epic if they’d been able to keep it under wraps better.
  • I really enjoyed the soundtrack. Enough that I had to look up the composer: Mark Mothersbaugh. The name didn’t mean anything to me, so I dug deeper. He was one of the founders of Devo, which vaulted the soundtrack even higher in my eyes. Great synth feel to it. Having more unique soundtracks would very much be a plus for Marvel.
  • Cate Blanchett’s character development leaves a whoooooole lot to be desired. At this point, I think my biggest beef with the Marvel movies is how generic a lot of their villains are beginning to feel. The superheroes get a lot of development and backstory, but the villains, not so much. You could swap villains between movies, and I don’t think it would make a difference in many cases. That’s a flaw.

Anyway–do check the movie out. Already seen it? Let me know what you thought!

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