Within ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is two films not just narratively, but in terms of style and tone. The first has a theatrical intimacy, an emotionally potent view of its central characters, especially Hulk, that excels in the quiet moments with witty humour and brilliant comedic performances. The other is an attempt at an epic, inter-dimensional visual feast that pulls on comic book and mythological lore. Unfortunately, while director Taika Waititi masters the first, for the most part his inability to deliver cinematic scope or gritty, traumatising action means the film has a clear tonal mismatch. The extremely fast pace in the first half is one of the film’s greatest flaws, with some vital characters dying with zero impact, while exposition is clucky and happens by necessity. Villain Hela benefits from a truly engrossed and committed Cate Blanchett, but has typical evil motivations to rule everything and consequently becomes forgotten by the audience halfway through the film due to her generic threat. When Waititi focusses on making just one of the two films evident here he mostly succeeds. He resolutely does with the theatrical comedy and clear interest in the relationship between Hulk and Thor, but while he nails the action and climatic sense of resolution by the last third, the emotional pay-off does suffer from everything else beforehand lacking that certain ‘epicness’ and depth. 3.5/5
*While some have criticised previous Marvel films for inserting humour into tense, serious and often climatic sequences, this is the first film where it has truly bothered me. I had a similar issue with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 but its wacky, absurdist humour at least felt welcomed and inherent within its action and plot. This film doesn’t have that same level of coherency, which is upsetting since I feel extremely unpatriotic right now, with Waititi being a fellow New Zealander. For those interested, I have all MCU films RANKED HERE.