Thor: Ragnarok

Most everyone is using one extremely fitting word to describe Thor:Ragnarok: fun.  From start to finish, the third film in the Thor series is just a tremendously enjoyable ride full f humor, action, wonderfully weird characters and fun.

Taika Waititi, director of What We Do in the Shadows and The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, brings so much of his own directorial style into Thor: Ragnarok that it is amazing that Marvel Studios, a studio that has had some directors have had issues with in the past, apparently allowed his such free reign to create a Thor movie unlike any other Thor movie before it, while still honoring what had come prior.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to Asgard to find his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) ruling in the place of Odin (Anthony Hopkins).  Thor forces Loki to show him what he had done to Odin, and this winds up releasing the Goddess of Death Hela (Cate Blanchett), who has returned to claim Asgard as her own.  Thor gets banished and winds up on Sakaar, a planet run by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), and ends up in Grandmaster’s Contest of Champions vs. the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)

There are so many wonderful parts to Thor: Ragnarok that it is difficult to hit them all.  Chris Hemsworth is remarkable as Thor and he is allowed to show what an exceptional comedic actor that he is in this film.  He delivers his lines with the perfect timing and stands out.  The relationship with Thor and Loki, perhaps the most complicated relationship in the MCU, continues to be at the center of this movie, and each scene between Hensworth and Hiddleston shows how much chemistry they have with one another and how important they are to one another.

Mark Ruffalo is fantastic as Hulk/Bruce Banner.  He brings believable differences between the two characters (the ultimate Jekyll and Hyde combo).  This is the first time we can really see his work in the Hulk too, since we get a Hulk that can talk and communicate, even if that communication is like a 2-year old.  The Hulk is brilliantly portrayed as the monstrous rage beast, but also as someone who is lonely and wants a friend.  And Banner shows his heroic side despite his own continuing fears of being lost within the Hulk persona.  Plus, the Hulk/Thor hoss fight was brutally awesome.

There are a ton of great new characters here as well.    Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie is kick ass and brings as much to this role as you could possibly bring.  The flashbacks of the Valkyries battle with Hela, which looked as if it were a painting- a work of art, brought this character an importance that was unexpected.  Jeff Goldblum was doing his very best Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster. I sat in the theater waiting for the film to start thinking about the world I live in– where I was about to see a major motion picture that was going to feature the Grandmaster.  Amazing, and Goldblum was a riot.  Taika Waititi himself had a great knew role as the rock creature Korg, who was continually funny.  Karl Urban as Skurge the Executioner had an unexpectedly strong character arc as well, playing Hela’s right hand man.

Without going into spoilers, the ending sequence in Asgard was as surprising and original of an ending we have seen in the MCU.  It ranks up there with “I have come to bargain” of Dr. Strange fame in subversive finales in the super hero genre.

Speaking of Dr. Strange, it is known that Benedict Cumberbatch is in the film, and Ragnarok actually took the post credit scene from Dr. Strange where Thor is enjoying a beer and wove it into Ragnarok’s narrative seamlessly.  Cumberbatch’s role is basically a cameo, but it is an amazing one and worth a mention.

There are also a few cameos on Asgard that I won’t spoil that are perfect.

Some people have claimed that this movie is without stakes, but I disagree.  We have major Thor characters in this film die as well as the unbelievable ending that completely shakes up Thor’s corner of the MCU.  Plus, with the Tesseract making its presence known once again, it beautifully sets up this film’s connection to Avengers: Infinity War and Thanos’s ultimate arrival.

The film flows beautifully and the pacing is great.  You never feel bored during the film because you have something new to laugh at.  The colors are something different for Thor than any past Thor movies.  The color scheme is more like the Guardians of the Galaxy than Thor.  Perhaps this is the color palate that the MCU Cosmic films are all going to adapt.  If that is the case, I am all for it.

There may have been a couple of scenes where the green screen stood out too much (particularly with the Thor/Loki/Odin scene), but that was a minor quip.  Most of this film is wonderfully put together and the CGI was well done.

I still think this is one step behind Logan as the best comic movie of the year, but it is in the discussion.  Thor: Ragnarok is laugh out loud funny while taking the character of Thor is a different direction and installing in him a freshness that the character truly needed.  Plus, a new haircut.

4.9 stars

 

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