Are parodies real entertainment? After all you’re taking something established and tearing it down, aren’t you? Are you? What if you owned the original? What if you weren’t making fun of something else, but making making fun of your own past?
Does that make it okay? Parody, by definition, is a sort of comedic imitation. And the infamous “they” tell me that imitation is the highest form of flattery. So, are you creating something new with parody? What an artists debate this could be.
Thor Ragnarok dives headfirst into this debate as it presents a FAR more comedic take on Thor’s part in the greater MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).
In what harkens back far more to the recent Guardians of the Galaxy movies than it’s own predecessors, Ragnarok presents a very tongue-in-cheek story where Thor (Chris Hemsworth) rallies defenders to save his home realm of Asgard. I cannot overstate how well Director Taika Waititi took the funnier parts of the first two stand-alone Thor movies and grew them into Ragnarok.
What I can say is that even as I write this, I still haven’t decided if its pure genius or not my thing. I greatly enjoyed the first two Thor movies. Though an understanding that Thor: the Dark World is widely viewed as, to date, the weakest of all of Marvel’s movies. I love the comedy and I loved the execution. I’m still trying to come to terms with the “parody-like” role that this film has taken. The cast and direction of the movie obviously understands the pitfalls its previous films had, and unashamedly points them out in great detail.
Hemsworth shines in the film for a very unusual reason. On one hand he is sort of the unmanageable “god” sterotype.
As I watched, I felt myself remembering times with my closest friends when we break down into hysteric fits of laughter and the one guy is the only thing keeping us on track of conversation and not digressing out of control. Hemsworth is that guy that manages to link the absurdity with a viable plot against the vile vixen Hela (Cate Blanchett).
In fact, Hela is the completed other side of the coin as she shows little comedy and more of the regular, if a little underdeveloped, evil villain of Marvel’s films. It’s all revenge and murder with that lady. However, Blanchett adds a certain elegance to Hela that not only makes her fierce, but unstoppable in both story and presence.
The real gem shining in the background comes from one lesser villain, Ragnarok has a few, known as the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). This character might just be one of my favorites in this film. He stands out in exactly the way you’d expect from Goldblum hitting all the right notes on the off beats of rhythm in the movie. It’s a different kind of ego/insanity that makes me enjoy that Planet Hulk storyline.
Oh yes, fans of Marvel Comics will very easily delineate two different comic events in this film. Planet Hulk and Ragnarok see the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) join Thor to become quite the pair as they add Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) into the group.
They join up on Sakaar, a most wretched hive of scum and villainy. Oh… pardon the copyright, I’ll just call it a parody. Anyway, Sakaar becomes a character on its own with an inspired art direction, and Goldbloom’s personality. It heralds the MCU’s exploration of more territory than the nine realms previously mentioned in the franchise. From the fields of otherworld trash to the arena fights at its center, Sakaar is far different than any planet we’ve been to in this universe.
Ultimately, I cannot fault this film for it’s parody style. It more than makes a good movie of itself, and I laughed throughout the entire movie. It provides a whole new take on Thor and marks a big step forward for Marvel as the MCU continues to distance itself from other films and from its comic book heritage. It deserves a right to stand on critic acclaim and doesn’t disappoint on all the hype it received. In fact, I’d say it Ragna-ROKS the expectations I had for it. Okay, you’re right, too cheesy, I won’t say it again.
Avid readers may notice a distinct lack of introduction to the story of Thor Ragnarok. No, I’m not going senile… yet. But I am avoiding this for a reason. I will tell you that Thor starts the movie searching for more Infinity Gems, but gets called home by dreams of Asgard’s fall, but I don’t want to reveal a few things early in the film that have a larger take on the latter half. Suffice it to say that the comedy relies a great deal on timing and surprise, I don’t want to lessen the movie from telling you anything risky. That’s right kids, NO spoilers today!
All in all, a great work by Waititi who shows that with great talent to support you, taking risks and changes in films can be rather rewarding.
I leave you with two pieces of advice. Look deep in between the cracks of the “rocks” and you might see Waititi acting in the film, and when you see the mid-credits scene and you are thinking about getting up and leaving, Don’t.