I saw Avengers Infinity War a few weekends ago, and then after that Thor Ragnarok. Which is the opposite order to watch them in, since once leads directly into the other.
Unlike Captain America Civil War, which was pretty good, Thor Ragnarok is more about the character than the entire MCU. The Avenger guest appearances aren’t about the guests, even when Thor finds himself facing off and then partnering with Hulk. The story is pretty simple, and probably one that resembles a ridiculous comic book plot more than most of the movies. Where it really excels is the pacing and absurdity of its characters and world. Not like the fish out of water that most MCU characters find themselves in, but the kind where the fish is in an unrecognizable land that we haven’t seen before in these movies.
It’s very imaginative, is what I’m saying. Thor, like in the first film, is taken out of his elements and stripped of what makes him indestructible. He ends up in the garbage planet and forced to fight a wayward Hulk by the hilarious Jeff Goldblum. There you go, the plot. It’s just an adventure that doesn’t go much deeper. The internal struggle is what Thor will do without his hammer. Other than that, he has to convince other characters to help him escape. Is that and some action and cgi worth the money? It is for the garbage world and the people within, however brief you see them. The sets are perfect, and worth a rewatch for the color schemes as well as how the characters blend in. There’s some fantastic camerawork and staging that makes use of these sets, even if characters are just talking to each other.
This ended up being one of my favorite of the Marvel films (and, uh, easily the best Thor).
Moving on to Avengers Infinity War, I could probably have gone without seeing it because I know there’s a part 2 and I know how comics work. A bit was spoiled for me, because people go online and shout “NOT A SPOILER, BUT (screenshot of character death)!” It picks up right where Thor 3 ends and bad things happen. Like if you ended up rooting for the survivors of Aliens and then you decide to watch Alien3 right after. Then bad things keep happening as the Avengers kind of assemble, but not really…because we get an A then B then C story that rotates as the Guardians Of The Galaxy team chases Thanos who chases the Infinity Stones to kill off half the universe.
When I started reading Marvel comics in the early 90’s, I was introduced to the Infinity Gauntlet and the post Secret Wars crossover(s), so I had an idea how this plot works: everyone stop what you’re doing and chase the Infinity Stones and there’s some shocking deaths of beloved characters but don’t worry they’ll be back. So, you know, I just kinda shrug at the shock of the ending in this film, because we all know there’s a part 2 next year. And movies starring these characters. So, you know, whatever.
The action is tight, but the whole thing could be a half hour shorter. It would be too much to have everyone on screen at the same time, all three or four plots converging instead of 1 or 2, but… maybe that’s what they are saving for part 2. It didn’t feel like a story, and not just because of the cliffhanger. Because even if that was the ending, it didn’t feel like an ending. It doesn’t even feel like a set up. With the “loss,” it doesn’t feel like rock bottom. It doesn’t feel like anything.
Even Kill Bill, which was meant to make sense as one movie, felt like two separate movies when viewed separately. I doubt that much of the tone for the 2nd will change, and it will just be more of an adventure. The Russo brothers deserve the praise for the competent job of meshing the MCU into this movie (and its sequel).
The people who go to film school and learn the ropes and jump through hoops become filmmakers to make stories. With some movies you can tell who made them. They have a touch or a view that no one else will bring. Do they do all that to make THESE stories? For Marvel characters? Spider-Man 2 LOOKS uniquely like a Sam Raimi movie. I would have loved to have seen a full Edgar Wright Ant-Man movie. Thor Ragnarok has the wit and charm that allows a witless but charming Thor to shine (he also does, by the way, in Avengers). The filmmakers created a goofball world for this goofball do-gooder to escape from, and it’s never boring. It’s also very funny. But there’s also a committee that yay or nay’s a lot of ideas and forces story arcs beyond the filmmakers’ vision(s).
The Russo helmed Captain America movies were the most consistent of the Marvel movies up until Infinity War. Here, the darkest dawn is consistently oppressive. The brightest light I assume will be part 2 might still lack any joy, like a boring committee meeting.
Kudos to the Thor 3 team. GREAT movie. We’ll see how I feel about Infinity War after part 2.