REVIEW: ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Rocks!

It’s no secret, I wasn’t really a fan of the first two “Thor” movies. That’s not the case with the latest installment, though, as “Thor: Ragnarok” fires on all cylinders.

“Ragnarok” begins with the titular character Thor (Chris Hemsworth) searching for the mystical Infinity Stones and defeating monsters that have been rising up across the galaxy lately. The reason for the monsters returning is that Thor’s father is no longer in control of his homeland Asgard. Instead, it’s Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddlleston) who took charge of the land.

After Thor calls out Loki for what he’s done, the two agree to find their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Unfortunately, Odin dies shortly after the two brothers find him. Making matters worse, Odin’s death allows his daughter Hela (Cate Blanchett) to escape an ancient prison and seek the throne of Asgard for herself.

I always felt that the first couple “Thor” movies took themselves a bit too seriously and that the romance between the main character and the character Jane wasn’t very compelling. Thankfully, “Ragnarok” opted to throw that out the window and instead be a fun team-up picture, not that different than the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies.

While the movie does use the familiar concept of a ‘team-up’ story where a group of oddballs are brought together, though, it offers some uniqueness thanks to its more mystical and other worldly elements. These aspects are brought to the screen by showing more of Asgard’s lore and citizenry as well as displaying a whole new planet full of strange creatures and customs, making for a fascinating adventure.

Maybe “Ragnarok’s” greatest strength, though, is the comedy, which shows up through almost the entire picture. The writing sets up a lot of funny moments and even makes jokes about some of the Marvel formula, with shots at things like what makes a hero and trying to control the Hulk. Even some of the simple sight gags and a few moments of slapstick are well executed with great setup.

Bringing it all together was the cast who really shine here. Hemsworth, who’s always been a nice fit in the role, does a wonderful job with the more comedic aspects. This is apparent from the excitement he has when he meets Hulk for the first time in the movie to when he’s captured earlier in the film and acts nonchalant about the ordeal. Just as solid were his more serious moments. The whole arc of Thor’s character has been accepting his role with Asgard and the power he posses, and Hemsworth once again captures the evolution of the character.

Also noticeable in the movie was Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk. Ruffalo really nails the ‘fish out of water’ character, being on another world and all. He especially works when his character has to banter with Thor.

Speaking of banter, it also exists fantastically between Thor and Loki. Hiddleston and Hemsworth have already played in a few movies together in these roles and watching them reunite again was a treat.

As for the villains, meanwhile, Marvel provided a double whammy. First, there’s Jeff Goldblum playing the more comedic and charismatic Grandmaster, who organizes a tournament that both Thor and the Hulk compete in.

Goldblum brings a silly charm to the role and makes it work to his advantage. Cate Blanchett, meanwhile, is great as the cold, calculating Hela. A two-time Academy Award winner, Blanchett is of course on point here and it’s helped that her character has some solid motivation.

Stealing many scenes of this picture, though, was Tessa Thompson, who was incredible as the character Valkyrie. Thompson captured her characters humor, sass and heart exceptionally well and was easily one of the best parts of the picture.

“Thor: Ragnarok” has a lot going for it. The only issues with the movie are a few sequences where the film meanders a bit. This includes Thor meeting the other Marvel character Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and the exploits in the planet where Goldblum’s character reign supreme that go on a little too long. Otherwise, the flick is a fun time and in the upper echelon of Marvel movies. 4.5 out of 5.