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RAGNAROK gets 7/10 Darker than Marvel’s Thor


Directed by Mogens Hagedorn, Jannik Johansen
Starring David Stakston, Jonas Strand Gravli, Herman Tømmeraas, Theresa Frostad Eggesbø
Network: Netflix

7/10

Ragnarok is a Norwegian Noir, with an angsty and eccentric tone throughout. The limited series highlights the theme of climate change, all the while drawing on inspirations of Norse Mythology. Set primarily in the Danish language, with pockets of English, Ragnarok is best viewed with English subtitles as the Closed Caption function does not translate the dialogue in Old Norse.

The series takes place in the fictional town of Edda, which is dependent on the industrial company owned by the Jutul family (four Jötunn Giants). As a result of this, the family is known to get away with much due to their power, wealth, and influence. When Magne’s (David Stakston) only friend, Isolde, discovers the Jutul’s have a hand in the pollution affecting the town, a course of dark events unravels into a politicised investigation by Magne – who is met with trepidation, ridicule, and suspicion by both friends and family.

Ragnarok, as its name suggests, delves deep into the creation/destruction stories of Norse Mythology. When Magne helps out an old man, a grocery woman bestows upon him abilities similar to Thor – the God of Thunder. Throughout the series, parallels can be made between his brother Laurits (Jonas Strand Gravli) and Thor’s brother Loki, although no supernatural link is made.

Whilst battling the melancholy of starting a new high school as the “weird new kid”, Magne must also contend with his bodies reawakening as a God. Magne’s character does not grow any more interesting throughout the series, other than the occasional display of strength, and a light-show. His character, despite the actor’s strength in other shows, is merely a vehicle for the audience. At times he is frustrating to watch, as he allows the injustices of a small-town chip away at him.

Visually, the show is similar to Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight – accentuating cool tones, with sweeping cinematic shots of the Norwegian Fjord, which gives the series a National Geographic vibe. Yet Ragnarok displays strong scenes of blood, gore, and hunting violence. A visceral series, with strong special effects that ground Ragnarok in reality, make it an impactful series outside of traditional western television. At times, Ragnarok reminds the viewer of Teen Wolf, The Vampire Diaries, and similar productions – whilst standing its ground in authority, and realism, such as with Vikings.

On the flipside, Norwegian media held a negative view – that despite being set in Western Norway, the dialect of the characters was not accurate, and the characterisations fell short. Critically, the character of Isolde is under-developed (despite seeming to be a key role), and events that happen around her don’t hold enough weight.

Despite some missteps, the series is a refreshing step away from usual western television. With it being a short-form series, it is an easy digest for those who don’t typically enjoy subtitled entertainment. Both engaging, and frustrating to watch, Ragnarok is an exhaustive journey into a world where being a Thunberg is a social detriment.

JOSHUA HALL HAINES

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