REVIEW: Is ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ OK for kids? (And are there any scary parts?)
November 3rd, 2017 / By: Michael Foust / comments
It’s always difficult when you discover that your long-lost sister is the goddess of death. It’s even worse when you learn that she can whip you in a fight.
But for Thor – the god of Thunder – it’s a new reality.
It all started when Thor and his adopted brother Loki were conducting a galaxy-wide search for their father, Odin, the ruler of their home planet Asgard. They found him on Earth – Norway specifically – where he proceeded to deliver some life-changing news. Odin was dying, and his passing would allow his first-born child, an evil daughter named Hela, to be released from prison and take over Asgard.
As the goddess of death, Hela wants to change Asgard from a peaceful place into a wicked kingdom and use it as a base to rule the universe.
Of course, the virtuous Thor wants to stop her, but their first battle doesn’t go so well. She destroys his hammer. Then she banishes him to the strange, alien planet Sakaar, where he quickly gets imprisoned. Can he escape Sakaar in time to save the citizens of Asgard?
Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok (PG-13) opens this weekend, giving moviegoers the third chapter in the film series that is based on the Norse mythology character. It is the sequel to Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013) and stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki and Cate Blanchett as Hela. We also get to see two other Marvel characters: Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Hulk (voiced by Mark Ruffalo, who also plays Bruce Banner).
Thor: Ragnarok is entertaining and funny, although it contains plenty of material that may give parents pause.
Warning: minor spoilers!
Excessive. And too much to mention, even if it is mostly bloodless. A scary-looking skyscraper-sized “fire demon” fights Thor. Demonic creatures chase Thor. Hela defeats an army of soldiers, stabbing some of them with swords in the chest. The leader of Sakaar kills someone by literally melting him into a pool of liquid. Hela resurrects a deceased army (and a giant wolf) using an eternal flame. We hear discussions of executions and an executioner. A taser-like device is used to immobilize people, causing them to convulse. Thor, Loki and Hela partake in multiple fights and battles. Thor and Hulk battle one another in a coliseum-like setting. A pair of machine guns is used to kill multiple soldiers. One character loses an eye and is subsequently seen, on-screen, without his eye.
Moderate. Several female characters display cleavage. Thor is seen without a shirt. Hulk gets out of a hot tub and we see his (computerized) backside. A character tells Thor that the leader of Sakaar – the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) – used a spaceship for “orgies.” (We hear the word twice.) A portal to another world is called the “devil’s anus.”
Moderate. I counted 17 coarse words: he-- (7), d--n (2), s--t (2), OMG (2) SOB (1), a-- (1), misuse of “God” (1), p-ssed (1).
Other Positive Elements
Similar to the Guardians of the Galaxy series, Thor: Ragnarok is part superhero film, part comedy. But there’s one key difference: The humor in Thor is far more clean and appropriate (minus two big exceptions, as detailed above). I laughed -- a lot. Contrast that to the Guardians films, which are packed with bawdy and sexually suggestive jokes. It is a welcome difference.
Other Negative Elements
Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), a major female character and a friend of Thor, loves to drink and get drunk. Her love of alcohol is played for laughs, but few people around me were chuckling. It’s an annoying schtick.
Like most superhero films, Thor: Ragnarok contains lessons on self-sacrifice and courage.
“I choose to run toward my problems and not away,” Thor says. “Because that’s what heroes do.”
Thor and Loki deliver a solid lesson about family and brotherhood.
Thor’s home planet also serves as an object lesson. “Asgard is not a place. It is a people,” we’re told as its destruction becomes possible.
Thor: Ragnarok, of course, is set in a fictional Norse mythological world with multiple gods and goddesses – both good and evil. We even hear talk of Thor fulfilling a Norse “prophecy.” Then there’s Doctor Strange, who performs sorcery.
Yet even in such a twisted polytheistic world, the movie gives us a clear distinction between good and evil, right and wrong.
Of course, we tend to brush aside such anti-biblical worldviews as “just being part of the plot.” But for Christian parents with children, it’s likely worth a post-movie discussion about the one true God.
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I wouldn’t be comfortable letting my 5-year-old twins watch Thor: Ragnarok. The violence is excessive, and the disturbing images are plentiful. My 9-year-old son wanted to watch it, but I didn’t take him. In hindsight, I made the right decision. It deserves its PG-13 rating.
What I Liked
The humor. Let’s face it: Without some laughs, only comic book geeks would enjoy a movie about Norse mythology.
What I Didn’t Like
The two sexually suggestive jokes stand out in a movie that is mostly void of such talk. They’re unnecessary. Thor also swears a lot for a superhero – a fact that might bother some parents. Finally, there’s the issue of male-vs.-female violence. Call me traditional, but I don’t find it entertaining to watch men hitting women – even if the woman is an evil goddess.
Thumbs Up … Or Down?
Minus some caveats, this one is a thumbs up.
- Name two positive character traits of Thor. Name two negative ones.
- Why did Thor want to return to his home planet? Why didn’t Valkyrie want to return to her home planet? Was she wrong to feel that way?
- What is a home? Is it a place or a people? Or both?
- Contrast the movie’s teaching about god with Scripture’s teaching about God.
- The violence was bloodless. Is that good or bad?
Entertainment rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Thor: Ragnarok is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material.