Thirty-seven years, and finally, here it is! Exactly the Thor movie I have always yearned for. Even if I could never have described it to you before it existed, now that it exists, I know it for what it is: the Thor movie that lives in my heart.
Is it because this is the Thor movie that Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has always deserved? The one where they didn't try to smoosh him into a specific mold, but just let him be himself? No more smooshing him into the whiny mold, or the stalwart mold, or the sacrificial mold, or the oblivious mold. They have just let Thor be Thor, and in doing so, elevated him.
They have finally allowed Thor to be a serious, stalwart, honorable, goofy, hopeful, and cheerful fellow. Instead of trying to show off just one or two aspects of his character, they've shown them all off -- and thereby allowed him to be a fully-rounded, believable, huggable character. Who'da thunk, right?
I love so many things they did in this movie. They hit so many right notes in the rightest way. They used humor that is actually funny, is character-based and situational, not just adolescent-boy-humor. They allowed the poignant moments to be poignant, and the proud moments to be proud. And they let the silly moments be silly, and because they weren't trying to pretend that silliness is important, or that seriousness is unimportant, they pulled off both.
This isn't really a review, is it? It's kind of a gush-fest. I'm still humming along on a post-second-viewing buzz from yesterday, to be honest. But just so you're warned, there's some spoilage below.
You probably know that I have never really managed to like Loki (Tom Hiddleston) before. I have appreciated Loki, I have enjoyed Loki, but I have never liked him because he's always been such a jerk to Thor! Thor, who just wants to be friends with his brother, to live peacefully with him... and then Loki's always doing jerk things like stabbing him or trying to kill his friends or making him believe he's died -- ARGH. Loki, just leave the poor guy alone, will you? You're so eaten up with envy because Thor is everything you aren't (and that you claim you wish you weren't) that you can't stand it when he continually repays your jerkiness with kindness and love.
But then, Thor stops. Thor finally stops falling for Loki's crap. He started pulling away from him back in The Dark World (2013) when, in one of my favorite moments, he admitted, "I wish I could trust you." Thor knew, cerebrally, he couldn't trust Loki anymore, but he still wanted to. And, in the end, he did trust him -- he believed Loki's lie about Loki dying. (And then I spent like a year wanting to cut Loki's heart out with a spoon.)
But now, he's stopped.
He doesn't stop loving Loki. You can see that in every moment they have together -- that absolute, unconditional love is still there. But he no longer even tries to trust him. Thor accepts that Loki will always try to trick him, try to twist things to his own advantage, try to pull one over on Thor.
So what happens? Well... I kind of like Loki now. Because as soon as Thor quits trying to trust Loki, I think Loki realizes what he's lost. And suddenly, he wants to be trustworthy. Wants to be helpful. Wants to even do the right thing now and then. He realizes that what he's always wanted... kinda sucks.
For a long time, even up until after my first viewing of Ragnarok, I thought the Thor trilogy as a whole was about Thor finally growing up. And it is, to some extent -- he is a fully mature man now, willing to take on the leadership role that he should have assumed long ago. But it's also about Loki finally growing up. Will he always be the god of mischief? Of course. He'll always try to mess with people just for fun, trick people, twist situations to his own ends -- but I really really really think/hope that Loki has also discovered that he values Thor's love and trust. He sheepishly walks in at the end and stands beside Thor's throne, taking his place as right-hand man, exactly where Thor has always sought to place him.
ALL THE FEELS, MY FRIENDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Okay, other things I love.
Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). She is just -- she's beyond cool. I love her arc, I love her attitude, I love her super-playful relationship with the Hulk. I love that, when she first sees Thor, she knows exactly who he is -- she calls him "Your Majesty" right from the get-go, before he's identified himself more than cursorily. And the very first thing she does is protect the throne of Asgard, really, by rescuing Thor from the trash-hunters. She's tried to convince herself, just like Loki and Thor both did at various times in their series-long arcs, that she is perfectly happy letting other people suffer because she's forsaken her duties. But, like Loki and Thor, she comes to realize that a duty is not necessarily a curse. It's a blessing -- it's a place in the world that you fit perfectly, a way for you to serve others that no one else can.
In fact, it's a lot like the Christian idea of vocation -- that God has given us roles to perform, duties to fulfill, and that by doing so, we are serving not just those around us, but serving God through them. Rebelling against those roles doesn't bring us joy. Forsaking our duties doesn't make life easier. We might think that running off and doing our own thing, living for ourselves, and ignoring duties we consider unpleasant will make us happier... but it won't. We'll end up miserable and bitter and lonely.
Um, so that got kind of deep.
See why I love this movie? It's bright and glittery and fun, but it's got so much more going on under the surface. Just like Thor is handsome and muscly, and people tend to just see that outside of his and think that's all he's got going on, but he's actually got plenty of intelligence and an almost boundless capacity for hope and love that they tend to overlook.
And then there's Hulk. Ohhhhhh, sweet Hulk. And Banner (Mark Ruffalo). How I love them both.
And Heimdall (Idris Elba)! I love that Heimdall got some thrilling heroics this time. But did we really have to kill off the Warriors Three? I was not happy with that at all. I mean, yes, we needed to show that Hela (Cate Blanchett) was horrible, but... poor Fandral and Volstogg and Hogun. Uncool.
Okay, speaking of Hela, she was... kind of my least-favorite part of the movie, to be honest. She spent an awful lot of time sashaying around, prating and preening, and her fight scenes went on longer than necessary. I mean, it's cool that we have a female antagonist and whatever, but she was... well, she was more interesting than the bad guy in Dark World, but did she have to vamp so constantly? I guess I like my villains to have more than one note. Which is why I've always appreciated Loki -- he's never boring. Hela was just all, "I'm going to kill you!" All the time.
Skurge (Karl Urban) was a lot of fun, though. I love his final scene. So I put up with Hela whenever Skurge was around because he kept things fairly interesting, He wasn't one-note, at least.
Oh, and we have to talk about Jeff Goldblum! I would say "Grandmaster," but let's all be honest -- this is like the most Jeff Goldblummy role Jeff Goldblum ever could play. I really have to wonder if they even wrote a script for him, or if they were like, "Then Grandmaster comes in and says stuff," and he just walked in straight out of make-up and hair and said stuff. He cracked me up soooooo much.
Other funny things: Matt Damon, Luke Hemsworth, and Sam Neill as actors playing Loki, Thor, and Odin. I mean, dude. That was unbelievably hilarious. I had zero idea they were in it, and so the first time I saw it, I laughed so hard over Matt Damon showing up, I had to blow my nose. (I recognized Sam Neill too, but I had to look up Luke Hemsworth when I got home -- so funny they got Chris's older brother for the role!)
So much I loved! The colors. The joy. The optimism. The happy ending. Thor's short hair.
Um, yeah, I even love the short hair. I thought I was going to be super sad to see his hair go. I was right there with him, saying, "Please, kind sir, do not cut my dear Thor's hair." But nope, he rocks the new look. Including the (I know I said spoiler alert earlier, but SPOILER ALERT!!!!!) eyepatch. I mean, when he lost that eye, I was like, "I hate Hela and she must die," but holy cow, he looks so regal even with only one eye I can barely stand to look at him straight-on. Like, he's just so grown-up and adult now, so regal and fierce, and I'm so proud of him. So, so proud of my Thor.
Okay, I could go on and on and on, but I am kind of guessing that nobody has really read this far, and if you did, well, thanks for letting me gush about my darling Thor and how much I love this movie. I have other things to say, but I've said the ones I really wanted to share, so... good enough for today.
EDIT: Forgot to say if this was family friendly or not. Erm, there's rather a bunch of low-level cussing, loads of smash-and-bash, and people die. Also a reference to orgies and a couple other small innuendos.