Three-and-a-half out of four
While previous “Thor” films have been a chink in Marvel’s armor, “Thor: Ragnarok” comes in just as strong as its hero.
If you’ve never been a fan of Thor, the latest installment might just change your mind. If you’re not into Marvel, this film is a good jumping off point into the franchise. Although there are connections to other Marvel films, it’s not as interconnected as some.
The story begins with our hero, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) whose life couldn’t be worse. He’s lost his hammer; Hela (Cate Blanchett) has taken over Asgard.
Soon Thor finds himself on a strange new planet, taken prisoner by Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), forced to compete in gladiator games for the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) against his “friend from work” Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), while his evil adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) watches from the stands.
Somehow as Thor’s life gets worse, the “Thor” franchise gets better. The “Thor” films have never been so fun, funny, action-packed, and the stakes have never been higher.
Everything in “Ragnarok” pops — the color, the music, the costumes, even the characters. It’s two hours and 10 minutes you won’t mind giving up.
Most aficionados will notice a significant tone shift from other “Thor” films, and that’s all thanks to director Taika Waititi’s refreshing new humorous approach. The laughs abound with snappy dialogue, slapstick gags and kooky side characters and the director takes advantage of the cast’s improv abilities.
But it’s not all fun and games, someone has to do the dirty work of fighting the bad guys, and Thor has never looked better doing it. Thor is probably the most powerful Avenger (unless you ask the Hulk), and this film finally shows Thor’s power in incredibly spectacular ways. Thor isn’t the only powerful fighter in this film; his allies (Hulk, Loki, Valkyrie) — as well as his adversary Hela — all show off impressive fighting skills.
Hela is the goddess of death, and it’s no misnomer. The way she fights and kills appears so quick and effortless it’s mesmerizing. “Ragnarok” finally brings Thor a villain as powerful as himself — one he isn’t sure he’ll be able to defeat.
So, while “Thor: Ragnarok” has plenty of fun and games, playing with death is no game. Not for these heroes. The humor doesn’t take away from the seriousness of the foe they face, and the gravity of the situation doesn’t lose its light-hearted touch. Walking a tightrope of opposing tones, Waititi somehow manages to not stumble and fall.
By the end of the film there’s no doubt, “Thor: Ragnarok” steals the thunder from other comic book movies to create an electric superhero film.