I originally wasn’t planning on seeing Thor: Ragnarok (2017), but some ardent fans on Tumblr gave me pause, and after film Twitter’s praise of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) proved accurate, I decided to give this one a go, too.
U.N.C.L.E. is stylish and fun, but the only two things that stayed with me are Armie Hammer’s eye roll when Alicia Vikander gives up his hidden position, and the creative use of subtitles to convey dialogue that the camera logically can’t “hear” because it’s outside the car with the windows up where the characters are.
Ragnarok plays on a similar level, in that it’s on the whole fun and humorous (though some jokes fall flat), and in that only a few elements stand out: Cate Blanchett having a ball with her unlimited arsenal of spikes that come out of thin air; the postcolonial plot, which though somewhat muddled politically will at least get people thinking about how our ideologies and sociocultural hierarchies got to be this way (I hope); the return of Tom Hiddleston; the mere existence of Jeff Goldblum; and the one truly mindblowing shot of the film: During the last fight when Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) tag-team Hela (Blanchett) to stall for Loki (Hiddleston), the camera pans sideways following one of them being knocked down, then frantically pans skyward to follow the other one literally leaping back into the fray. That skyward in-the-moment shot is the only one that really involved me in the film as an experience and not just a sequence of moving images.
But even that pales in comparison to the hands-down best decision Marvel ever made (aside from greenlighting the first Iron Man (2008)): setting Thor’s kickass victorious fight scenes to Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” Now that’s cool!