“You can’t stop Ragnarok.”
“Yes, I can. That’s what heroes do.”
That’s Thor talking to a fire monster. Thor is in chains and helpless and supremely self-confident with good reason. With the help of his trusty magic hammer and a big battle, he’s soon free and victorious and goes off to Asgard and discovers there are problems among the gods.
The opening scene has set the tone of good humor and the movie maintains that tone as best it can. It’s not long before Thor is off to an arena where he has to fight The Hulk. The arena is run by the Grandmaster played by Jeff Goldblum. He is perfect and funny.
Between Asgard and this battle, we meet Thor’s sister, Hela, the Goddess of Death, played by Cate Blanchett. She seems to be having a wonderful time being as evil as possible. For those who remember her as Galadriel in LOTR, here she is sort of the anti-Galadriel, her evil twin, just as powerful or even more powerful but bad. If she was in LOTR, she’d definitely be a problem for Sauron, probably defeating him so she could run Mordor. Ruler of Mordor is where she belongs. Since she’s not in that movie, she settles for trying to bring about Ragnorak and the end of Asgard.
Fortunately, we also meet Valkyrie, a new character who is increasingly important. And, of course, there’s Loki being both good and bad and always conniving.
The light hearted good humored attitude doesn’t always work. Idris Elba plays Heimdall. He is guiding and protecting a group of desperate refugees. Good as he is, his scenes belong in a different more serious movie. We see scenes of desperate refugees on the evening news so it’s impossible to stay in the mood of lighthearted adventure.
Ragnorak itself refers to the end of the world in Norse mythology and that’s the problem with using it as a device for grand battles and inspirational speeches. In the movie, only Asgard, the home of the gods is in danger. In the myth, which is much more profound, all the world will be destroyed by the forces of chaos and evil at Ragnarok. The only happy ending is that the world will then be reborn.
The movie makes Ragnarok too small by ignoring the mythology. I had the same problem with Wonder Woman. As great as it is, I objected to its wildly inaccurate portrayal of Greek mythology.
However, Thor: Ragnorak works as a fun adventure movie so long as you don’t take it seriously.
Reviewed by Marian Powell