I finally got around to seeing Thor 3. This one is getting universally good reviews so you’ve probably seen it already. Thor was my favorite of the initial Marvel character movies and I would still rank it very high.
I came away from Ragnarok very disappointed.
The cold open of this movie really sets the tone. Thor is being menaced by Surtur, who I remember from D&D’s “The Iron Baron” as God of the Fire Giants. He and Thor banter in this epic very D&D style MWHAHAHA YOU ARE DOOOMED style…and then the cage Thor is in spins away from Surtur. Whoops! Hang on a second! AS I WAS SAYING, NOW COMES THE PROPHESIZED DAMNATION OF- oh there he goes again. This is followed by a great action sequence…which is interrupted Karl Urban jackassery. I’ll come back to Karl Urban.
Thor gets back to Asgard where Loki is masquerading as Odin. He seems to be doing a good job of ruling but he’s also eating grapes and staging dramatic performances to commemorate Loki’s “heroic death” during the events of Thor 2. When Thor shows up he immediately says, “Shit…”
Now, these two scenes are funny. But it struck me that they’re not exactly “Thor.” They’re much more something you’d see in Guardians of the Galaxy. It is almost like Thor and Loki learned slang from their time on Earth. The characters will be having this Thor style speech but then it’s peppered with what seems like the actors ad-libbing jokes out of character. Like in the first Thor movie, the Frost Giant Laufey says, “The House of Odin is full of traitors.” And Thor replies “Do not dishonor my father’s name with your lies!” In this movie, Thor would reply, “No it isn’t!” Or “Bullshit!” Or the always famous “Nuh-uh.” It’s hard to describe if you haven’t seen the movie but the tenor of characters feels wrong. Someone who really liked this movie might say, it feels different and different is good. I agree with that up to a point. Cut Thor’s hair, destroy his hammer, cool. Make a more comedic movie, okay. But it goes too far in this movie and the tone gives you whiplash.
Where the problem with tone comes from is Cate Blanchett, playing Hela, the goddess of death. Odin’s firstborn child, kept in an extradimensional prison by the All-Father’s lifeforce, and released by his death. Now I liked her performance but I would call it hampered by bad writing or direction. Problem number 1 is the tone. When this movie is about Thor, it’s a comedy. Then Hela murders like 100 people in 10 seconds. She murders the Warriors Three effortlessly. She’s going to genocide the population of Asgard for their defiance in not wanting to conquer the universe. This wants to be a dark movie. This ought not to be the death of hundreds of Ravagers in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 set to “Come a Little Bit Closer.” But it swings so hard between comedy and omnicide it’s hard to tell if you’re supposed to be taking this seriously.
Problem number 2, Hela’s dialogue was too fucking repetitive. If you should watch this movie in the future, take a shot everytime Hela says:
-I am the Goddess of Death/Odin’s Firstborn.
-Odin lied to you/covered up the past.
-We will make war upon the universe!
So Thor winds up on this planet that lies at the center of tons of wormholes and portals. Basically the dump of the universe and like the trailer indicated, Jeff Goldblum throws him into an arena with the Hulk. They escape and make it back to Asgard. More than anything else this entire planet and the events on it felt very Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy. There’s a guy made of rocks, every line he has feels like it was ripped from the pages of Douglas Adams. Hitchhiker’s Guide pioneered going to these strange alien landscapes where everyone has this dry British sense of humor. Now, I love Hitchhiker’s Guide I’m just not sure these jokes belong in a Thor movie. Or at least less of them per minute so that the jokes that are really funny land harder.
Another very Hitchhiker’s Thing is Bruce Banner (not Hulk). Banner says, “I have 4 PHDs!” Well, you have 4 Earth PHDs. In a setting with casual space travel there must a far higher base of scientific knowledge. This brought to mind how Ford Prefect would often crash university parties and make fun of any astrophysicists until he got thrown out.
My personal favorite joke in this movie, at the beginning when Loki and Thor are with Doctor Strange. He puts Loki into an extradimensional prison and when he gets out he immediately pulls a knife and starts towards Strange, Thor stops him. That’s it, that’s the joke. I like that kind of humor. Tom Hiddleston is a treasure for this series and I wish all these movies had Loki.
One thing I want to praise, in the escape from Garbage Planet has this kind of synthesizer music playing you catch it a few times but especially there. This is the kind of different that’s really good. That whole escape sequence was very good. Thor and friends are escaping Garbage planet and they need to get to a big wormhole and they steal Jeff Goldblum’s ship because it has the only macguffin drive on the planet. Someone says that it’s a leisure craft used for parties and orgies. It’s at that point that I see the dad sitting next to me get a whispered question from his young son. I think I heard an “I’ll explain later” and I cracked up.
So they make it back to Asgard. They realize that to kill Hela they have to blow up Asgard. Kind of exactly like Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Of course the way you blow up Asgard is you put Surtur’s Crown on the Eternal Flame. But in order to do that it’s probably a good idea to evacuate the planet which they do. But this scene is where the movie I think kind of fails. They pull a spaceship up to the Rainbow Bridge and people get on while the good guys hold off Hela’s undead legions. The problem I have with this scene is the same one I had with The Third Hobbit Movie. It’s really hard to tell where everybody is and what’s going on. The editing in this sequence sucks.
But in the end, Surtur blows up Asgard taking Hela with it. Thor loses an eye which actually got spoiled for me by the Avengers 3 trailer. I’m guessing his people get captured or butchered by Thanos whilst he seeks the infinity stones. So that’s the movie. Some great action scenes and a few good jokes in a movie that doesn’t really feel like a Thor movie and suffers for it. It’s not just different, it’s not that good. The jokes feel ad-libbed and out of character which takes you out of the movie. I found a lot of what I thought said much more eloquently by the Cinema Snob and would encourage you to watch their review.
Couple other thoughts.
-I said I would come back to Karl Urban. Karl Urban’s character in this is…he is Heimdall’s replacement. Heimdall is off doing stuff. Saving the Dark Tower and after Hela shows up he leads the resistance on Asgard. Point is, Karl Urban is minding the Bifrost. Then when Cate Blanchett, shows up, he becomes her Dragon. He doesn’t do anything evil though and you can tell a heel-face turn is coming from a mile away. But the character is either a joke or just standing around mulling when it’s time for him to turn babyface. I really did not like him or his 100-round magazine dual m-16s. Good thing Hela didn’t attack Earth with those undead guys because two m-16s fuck them up. She would’ve had to conquer the whole planet herself. More than anything else, this character reminded me of Alfrid, the sniveling Not-Wormtongue Human from Hobbit 3. He’s a weasel with too much screentime.
-The movie’s a bit long. I kind of wish they had trimmed maybe 20-30 minutes off of Garbage Planet. Most especially one thing they could’ve cut which was sort of emblematic of my problems with the movie was a scene set to a song from “Charlie and Chocolate Factory.” Did Jeff Goldblum take that song from Earth? Then he melts a guy with a stick, that scene goes nowhere and it felt like part of a longer scene that got cut.
-I really liked the Valkyrie character, she’s a great addition to the cast and I hope she shows up for Avengers 3 or 4. I especially like her unrepentant alcoholism. Her character has to be older than Thor right?
-Everyone who talked about this movie mentioned how good the trailer was for this movie and it completely was. It was better than the movie. But I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, don’t put your money shots in the trailer. This movie put all of it’s money shots (Mjolnir being destroyed, Hulk, Thor being a badass lightning god) in the trailers. That made the trailer amazing but the movie way less impressive.
– Speaking of the trailer, in that you have Hela destroying Thor’s hammer in what looks like New York City. In the movie, she does it in Norway. Odin is in Norway looking out over a subpar greenscreen of the ocean and he dies there, Hela shows up there. It takes you out of the movie when you see a prominent scene from the trailer and it’s different.
-Last thing, they come back to this Norway set a couple times and it makes me think, “Oh, they only had Anthony Hopkins for one day.”