Hey, did you guys know Norway was a country and shit? *minds around the world explode* I know, right? Well strap on your adventure panties and prepare to dive into the majestic fjord of family fun, Ragnarok, as it follows diet Indiana Jones embarking on a journey to discover the secret of long-dead Vikings and how to pick up chicks (hint: not talking about your dead wife is a plus).
This film is perfectly pleasing in every single way; not too hot, not too cold, blow on it a little and it’s juuuuuust right (hint: tip number two on how to pick up chicks). Imagine if a slightly anti-climactic Jurassic Park got wasted and laid some pipe on National Treasure and you’ll be halfway to the fully enjoyable, and eminently watchable family feature, Ragnarok.
The characters managed to balance humor and engagingly multi-faceted performances amidst an engrossing central mystery and moments of tension. Mostly. The strong acting almost distracted from the slightly baffling lack of purpose for the adventure other than to HAVE an adventure. Here are a few interpretational examples:
“Hey bro, wanna go on a treasure hunt?”
“Sure! Lemme not call a babysitter because this looks dangerous and college is expensive… Fingers crossed I can knock off a kid!”
“I REALLY WANT SOME ANSWERS TO THESE HISTORICAL QUESTIONS AND SHIT!”
“Uh, doesn’t that look like a potentially deadly situation over ther-”
“SHUT UP AND GET ANSWERING, LOGIC IS DUMB!”
“So Ragnarok is about the end of the world, right?”
“I can’t help but notice the world doesn’t really even slightly get remotely a little bit endy in thi-”
“WHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT LOGIC?! DID YOU GET MY ANSWERS YET?”
“Why do you shout all the time? Is that like an inner ear thing?”
Ragnarok has mass appeal and manages to hit a broad demographic in all the right places (hint: tip number three on how to pick up chicks) and the optimist in me had the bitchy cynic in a choke-hold long enough to watch and thoroughly enjoy this surprisingly engaging film. It has subtitles for everyone who doesn’t speak Norwegian and can read (this rules out Paris Hilton and most of the Kardashians) so it’s fairly easy to follow the exposition in-between action elements.
The chemistry between characters, stunning scenic vistas, and Mummy-esque adventure saga make this a solid, if not meteoric, family flick balanced by a smart script that makes the most of Norwegian mythtory (fuck it, when you look like me you can make up words and people will go with it. I get a lot of free stuff, too) There are even a few, sadly not even a little bit gory OR whorey, “You’re so fucked, bro.” moments in the film where the writing’s on the wall in a really obvious way, but goddamn it’s fun to watch regardless.
On the flip side, Ragnarok is about as subtle as Lindsay Lohan on a cocaine bender in paralleling a father/daughter allegory of selflessness. Oh, your dad got super boned by a Viking basilisk because he wouldn’t listen to his daughter back in the day? Sucks to be you. And then a modern age father almost gets his kids killed in a quest to find answers to the mystery of how to get laid again after his wife goes tits up, I mean uncover historical discoveries? Shocking.
The CGI is pretty well rendered, making the most of any creature feature appearances by the Norwegian Loch Ness Cunster. Then again, I recently saw the rifftrax of Sharknado (so the bar isn’t set insanely high). Out of twelve characters, six main cast members, the chemistry was (on average) believable and engaging and I didn’t clock the time left to credits once. Unlike the rectal bleed that was recent box office suckfest, Maleficent. Seriously. Please let me know if you were attached to that production in any way so I can junk punch you, thanks.
There’s charm, humor, warmth, tension, greed and betrayal in Ragnarok, all wrapped up in family-friendly packaging (if you didn’t at least smirk when you read “package” we can’t be friends). Overall, the film is a solid genre entry into the annals of cinematic adventury. Don’t go into this expecting more than an entertaining diversion you can park those broken condoms in front of for a few hours and it’ll be shiny. You win some, you lose some, and on some you break even. Ragnarok is one of those.