Apr 10, 2017

Trailing Off: "Thor: Ragnarok" (2017)

Cate Blanchett
Welcome to the sporadic column Trailing Off in which I take a look at a trailer from the past week and analyze its potential. This will be done using an obnoxious amount of analyzing and personal thoughts on the cast and crew as well as expectations. I will attempt to highlight films ranging from new blockbusters to lesser known indies and give them their due. Partially to spread awareness, I do believe that there is an art to the sell and will do my best to highlight why these trailers matter or don't with approval (trove) or disapproval (trash). So please stop by, recommend some trailers, and I will see you next time.

Trailer in Discussion

Directed By: Taika Waititi
Written By: Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost & Stephany Folsom (Story By), Eric Pearson (Screenplay), Stan Lee & Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby (Based on Characters)
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Idris Elba

- Preamble -

As it seems fit to do, it's time once again for Trailing Off to enter the world of Marvel's Cinematic Universe. It has been going strong for nine years now. With Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 on the very near horizon, it only seems right to look ahead to the future. Apparently this includes going once again into space to see everyone's favorite hammer-wielding family for Thor: Ragnarok. It has been a long, long time since we've last seen Thor and the gang. Not just in a MCU movie, but in general. Despite Captain America: Civil War being an ensemble movie, Thor was absent from the fun (it makes sense if you follow the events of The Avengers: Age of Ultron). What this all builds up to is that one can only hope that his long absence has made the cinematic heart grow fonder, especially with the outer space collective starting to pile up with new faces in Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange.
To be totally honest, Thor: The Dark World was a bit of a bummer. I personally think that it was among the worst films that MCU has released - which is surprising given the studio's generally good track record. There was something absent from the film's passion that made it a difficult watch. Maybe it's because the Thor and Loki story was a bit played out and the desire to revisit Asgard wasn't nearly as exciting the second time around. It's especially annoying because Loki already was a great villain in two of Marvel's previous films, making one wonder why he was still sticking around causing mayhem. Tom Hiddleston plays the character to perfection, but it does seem like the MCU, to a degree, had one note that it played over and over.
There's a lot that makes me hope that Thor: Ragnarok is actually pretty good. For starters, it has been some time in between the films in the selective Thor franchise and thus would give time to make audiences care about him again. It also helps that they have selected funnyman Taika Waititi to direct the film. If Thor: The Dark World was joyless, then maybe all that was needed was a sense of fun. There's not a lot to go off of the indie director's previous work to suggest that he'll do a great blockbuster, but one can only imagine that if the film is decent in the way that What We Do in the Shadows was, then maybe it will be the refresher that this character sorely needed.

- Dissection -

Off the bat, there's a lot to initially like. For starters, it feels like a smart choice to cast Cate Blanchett as the villain. What the MCU could use more of is a sense of fun villains played by top notch actors. No offense to Hiddleston and Anthony Hopkins, but Thor definitely suffered from not having too many memorable foes to fight in the films. It also doesn't help that the general cinematography has been dreary. On the bright side, the film looks to at least be taking on a more colorful and exciting Asgard full of catchy set pieces. Even Liam Hemsworth seems to be playing the character with more of a sense of purpose. One can only hope that Jeff Goldblum's involvement will also be worthwhile as something more than additional eccentricity.
Beyond that, the Waititi vibe is clearly on full display. The choice to play Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" is something that seems overdue, given the Norse mythology in the lyrics. However, it's also in the presence of Thor fighting The Incredible Hulk for the first time in five years that is the eventual seller of the trailer. It's an exciting moment, and one that makes the viewer want to see what lies ahead. To be honest, the Hulk scene from The Avengers: Age of Ultron is a high point for the MCU, and I've been dying to see more of him on display. It's been a bummer that he has been even more absent than Thor for whatever reason.
There's still some hesitation to Thor: Ragnarok because of how abysmal the previous film was. It wasn't all that fun and showed the limitations to the potential of outer space. However, Waititi's general enthusiasm may be what helps the film overall. It's definitely kooky and strange, and it's interesting to see Thor with a haircut. Maybe this is the reimagining that audiences didn't know that they wanted. Whatever the case may be, the trailer is really effective in raising interest in Thor after a few years without it. For that alone, it is successful.

- One Sentence Sell -
For those who have missed Thor over these past four years, you'll finally get to see him again fighting The Hulk.

- Trove or Trash -

It may be a mild recommendation, but I am mostly glad to see that there's life in the Asgard family of characters after hitting a patchy spot.

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