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Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) - Taika Waititi

This film is really, really good.

I didn't expect it to be at all. This is coming from a guy who thought Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 was underwhelming and forgetful, which is essentially in line with what Thor: Ragnarok aimed for: a family-friendly, upbeat film, brightly colored and over-the-top.

But whether it's the change in screenwriters or the influence of director Waititi, the newest installment works surprisingly well, and I think I can pinpoint a few key reasons.

- The conflict is set up efficiently and clearly. We get why Thor has to save Asgard and who the villain is within the first 10 minutes of the film. And even when there's the inevitable, dreary exposition, it's always juxtaposed with a visual gag or witty exchange of dialogue. I think a lot of superhero films have a lot of trouble getting started, since there's so much information and characters that need some 'splainin'. What sucks is that they could have done better with just one rewrite.

- The humor isn't forced, and comes from the characters. I noticed that in other Marvel films, there's unnecessary humor that doesn't necessarily advance the plot, or even develop character. But in Thor: Ragnarok, the humor stems naturally from interactions between characters that are meaningful and make sense. For example, the hilarious bickering between Hulk and Thor during the film's mid-point is because Thor wants to leave, but Hulk doesn't. Not because someone thought it'd be funny.

- Taika Waititi's direction is original. I never noticed it before, and glad I do now, that Waititi is a badass. He constantly makes risks in his filmmaking that may be frowned upon by conventional directors. The moments he decides on emphasizing are those quirky, off-beat moments that are awkward if executed poorly, but great if done well. Waititi, of course, is a man of the latter. The worlds are all colorful, vibrant, and well-lit (I hate, hate, hate the drab and dark lighting used in somber superhero films like Suicide Squad). Hope he gets more work in the future, he deserves it.

- Finally, a good use of the Immigrant Song! I won't spoil it, but there is a moment in the movie's Third Act that uses this song perfectly, and made me bump the rating up a full popcorn. People often forget that film is a diffusion of every existing art form, including music, which is for some reason the most neglected. Please, directors and writers, add music to your film!

I didn't think it was all perfect though, because of the natural limitations of a studio-made superhero flick. Average acting, limited experimentation, and CGI overload are things that will be included no matter what. But the fact that I forgave the aforementioned flaws almost entirely is proof that Thor: Ragnarok is... I'll say it: Marvel's best film so far.