Thor: Ragnarok

Film Review by Justin Eagle Gauthier thor movie poster

Valkyries atop winged horses erupt from an airborne plume of fire as Hela, the Asgardian goddess of death, hurls countless spears into the sky. Thor and the Incredible Hulk wage a gladiatorial grudge match for screaming fans on an alien world. These are only two memorable scenes from “Thor: Ragnarok.” The seventeenth movie from Marvel is a love letter to fandom and its author is Taika Waititi.

Chances are, the average viewer isn’t familiar with Waititi. Savvy readers know I’ve lauded his work in two prior reviews of “Boy” and “Hunt for the Wilderpeople.” In helming a major studio film with a budget of 180 million dollars, Waititi is the first of a generation of indigenous filmmakers to be given such an opportunity. Marvel took a big chance handing over the reins of one of their major characters to a relatively unknown and untested director. Did the gambit pay off? In my opinion, “Thor: Ragnarok” is in the top three superhero movies of all time, it’s that good.

Those unfamiliar with Waititi’s comedic poignancy might find it a bit cloying at times but when all’s said and done, it’s clear we’ve witnessed something special. If you’re not a fan of the superhero genre, see “Thor: Ragnarok.” Waititi has achieved what few directors of Marvel movies have been able to. He’s put his stamp on a Marvel movie and not the other way around.

Casting is a strong point of the film. Chris Hemsworth returns for his third stand-alone Thor film. He is, as always, winsome and seemingly born to be a movie star but it’s also apparent he’s having a lot of fun in this film. Tom Hiddelston returns as Loki, Mark Ruffalo reprises his role as Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk, and Tessa Thompson premieres as Valkyrie. Fans of Jeff Goldblum will enjoy one of the most “Goldblumian” performances of his career as the Grand Master. Cate Blanchett deserves special mention in her role as Hela. She does an excellent job as a menacing, ruthless villain.

The eclectic Mark Mothersbaugh has put together a phenomenal soundtrack. The use of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” during two pivotal scenes was an inspired choice and reportedly came from Taika Waititi’s initial pitch “sizzle reel” to Marvel. The use proves one of the more powerful marriages of imagery and contemporary music in recent memory. There’s much more to praise than to quibble over in this movie, it’s a must-see.

Menominee Tribal member Justin Eagle Gauthier is featured in several literary journals. He is currently working on screenwriting projects and taking bids on a framing job for his MFA degree.