A Tad Introduction
Taika Waititi a New Zealand director and writer has rapidly grown to fame with titles such as Thor Ragnarök (2017) and Jojo Rabbit (2019). His ability to balance comedy and drama in his movies has made him a force to be reckoned with within the film industry.
Taika has directed six feature films and several television episodes in the last twelve years! His work has earned several award nominations and an Academy Award for Jojo Rabbit. I have come up with a personal ranking of Waititi’s feature films – though it was hard to pick a favourite.
No.6 Eagle Vs. Shark
Debuting in 2007 Taika’s Eagle vs. Shark follows the relationship between a cashier and a video game clerk as they deal with family issues. Despite ranking it sixth I found this film absurdly hilarious. A lot of the comedy comes across as awkward at first, but as soon as you get used to the deadbeat style you’ll never want to leave.
His dram-edy techniques are not as prominent here as they are in his other films. Like most filmmakers it took Taika Waititi some time to gain confidence in his film-making abilities and Eagle Vs. Shark is a testament to that.
No. 5 Boy
Boy (2010) is a major improvement over Eagle Vs. Shark in the confidence department. It feels significantly more authentic and true to Taika’s style than Eagle vs Shark ever was. This is one of the more personal films Taika has made.
Boy is led by a fantastic performance from James Rolleston (Boy) which is especially prominent because he was only twelve at the time. The film embodies a huge aspect of Taika’s talent – his ability to direct and draw out the talent of child actors to great success. The only reason it is not higher is because it was not as gutbustingly hilarious as the rest of Taika’s films. It lands some jokes but it succeeds more when it focuses on the dramatic aspects of its narrative.
No.4 What We Do in the Shadows
What We Do in the Shadows (2014) is by far Taika’s funniest movie. As a mockumentary about a group of vampires going about their normal lives W.W.D.I.T.S. takes it’s time to introduce us to the characters and lets us grow into the story.
The humour is almost entirely character based which makes it an interesting first watch experience. On the flip side though the humour makes it incredibly re-watchable as you understand a lot more of the jokes on the second or third watch.
No.3 Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Taika pulled no punches with Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016). With a major increase in budget he was able to create a vast universe for his characters to inhabit. He once again chose to cast a child actor Julian Dennison (Ricky) alongside bigger names like Sam Neill (Hec) and Rachel House (Paula).
The drama aspects were significantly more apparent in Wilderpeople than in any other Watiti movie prior. Once again creating a story about family where we watch as a boy and his foster-father grow to accept and eventually love each other.
No.2 Thor Ragnarok
It was almost impossible to pick between Wilderpeople and Thor Ragnarök (2017). Both deserved slot number two! Watching Ragnarök for the second time though I realised that its comedic beats border on genius and highlight Chris Hemsworth’s potential to act as a funny character. This director is like a fine wine getting better with each vintage and more hilarious with each drink.
Taika was given a huge task, create a hundred and eighty million dollar movie set in an already established universe. A franchise movie definitely has not been his style but what he created was genius and has become one of the best entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
A comedic Thor movie was a surprise to many considering the dramatic tone of the previous Thor films but it ultimately led it to becoming even more engaging. The colourful visuals matched with the sharp dialogue and witty jokes that were spewed every couple minutes makes it feel like an adventure rather than an imitation of Shakespeare.
It remains one of Marvel’s best films, even after the releases of titles such as Infinity War (2018) and Endgame (2019).
No.1 Jojo Rabbit
What a movie! I don’t often see movies multiple times in cinema but I made sure to catch it twice more after my original viewing. It took everything that makes a Taika movie a Taika movie and improved it ten-fold.
It contains a knock-out child performance from Roman Griffin Davis who was even nominated for a golden globe. And an amazing mixture of drama and comedy containing some of Taika’s best jokes since W.W.D.I.T.S.
It had its fair share of good and bad attention. It won the 2020 Academy Award for Best Adapted screenplay but it was also a box office failure because of its portrayal of Adolf Hitler.
It is completely understandable to be off-put by the movie’s subject matter. Some people don’t take kindly to a movie about a young Hitler-loving Nazi. If you give it a chance though I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Taika Waititi is by far one of the best writer-directors working in the industry today. His work continues to shape the way we see films and consistently improves with every movie he releases.
What’s your ranking of his movies? I’d love to hear it in the comments