I went to see Thor: Ragnarok and loved it. It's a delirious, joyful ride of a movie, self-consciously daft in a sort of Pythonesque way. The characters are engaging, the music is spot on - all the very best creative types cite Led Zeppelin, hem hem - and it looks gorgeous. Go see it.
But there's a problem and that problem is both what makes the film splendid and what left me feeling kind of empty at the end. It's the jokes. It's a really funny movie with lots of brilliant gags and entertaining characters but the jokes constantly undercut the drama. The action and the vibe build to a moment of emotional delivery and then a joke comes clanging in and undermines it all. It's as if the movie is embarrassed at its own potential for moving the audience. I wanted a moment when we'd see some real feeling that wasn't followed by something funny and I got more and more irritated when it never really came.
There's a good YouTube video from Just Write about this very thing which highlights the theme of bathos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This movie really suffers from too much bathos, too much humour at the expense of making you care. Those few moments when the movie does deliver on the emotion - I'm thinking of the scenes with Anthony Hopkins as Odin - it really hits home. It reminds me of the old sitcom truism about how comedies can often be the most emotionally hard-hitting. You make people love your characters through laughter and then when tragedy occurs it is all the more effective. This is pathos, not bathos.
I don't think this works here. Thor: Ragnarok cashes in too much on the connection we already have with some of these characters before we go in. They're all lovable, but they're like the friend who covers up their feelings by being funny all the time. You want to reach out to Thor:Ragnarok and say, 'It's okay to be sad.'
Still, it's a splendid movie. Go see it and be entertained.