Thor: Ragnarok is exactly the film we need right now. The world’s gone bonkers and we can all use a two-hour break, and Thor: Ragnarok is the perfect distraction. It’s incredibly entertaining, genuinely funny, and it features some truly amazing action scenes. Pretty much everything you could possibly want out of a standalone Avengers film is packed into Thor: Ragnarok with room to spare for things you didn’t know you needed, like a walking, talking pile of rocks with a New Zealand accent.
Director Taika Waititi wasn’t the most obvious choice to direct a film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His movie credits include a handful of independent films, all of which I highly recommend. (2007’s Eagle vs Shark, 2014’s What We Do in the Shadows, and 2016’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople should all be on your must-see list.) Hopefully with the success of Thor: Ragnarok and the praise Waititi’s earning for the comic book-inspired movie, his indie films will be discovered by new audiences.
This third Thor film is substantially different in tone than 2011’s Thor and 2013’s Thor: The Dark World. The original Thor injected more humor than Thor: The Dark World, however the third movie tosses out all pretense at serious drama. Thor #3 is a wild ride from minute one, although MCU purists might not be quite as pleased with its treatment of the source material as those of us who only know Thor through the Marvel films.
Chris Hemsworth has never seemed more at home in Thor’s world, and it doesn’t hurt that the cast surrounding him is absolutely first-rate. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki grows more appealing with each film appearance and the chemistry between Hiddleston and Hemsworth is a blast to watch onscreen.
Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk has an unexpectedly goofy sense of humor, and when Ruffalo’s finally on screen as Bruce Banner he puts an entirely new spin on the character. Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie is a welcome addition to Thor’s “Revengers” team, kicking ass and doing so as a strong, fiercely independent woman. Jeff Goldblum plays one of his most Jeff Goldblum-ish characters to date as the scenery-chewing Grandmaster who rules the junkyard planet of Sakaar.
Taika Waititi brings joy to the world of Thor and his actors all appear to be having an incredible time populating this comic book-inspired world. Two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator) is simply delicious as the evil Hela, Thor and Loki’s older sister. On paper, the role’s a strange fit for the actress best known for awards caliber indie films and period dramas. Hela brings out a surprisingly fresh and naughty side to Blanchett. (I’d love to see a film devoted to Hela’s backstory.)
The plot of Thor: Ragnarok is relatively basic, centering around Thor putting together a team to take on his sister and save his fellow Asgardians. Benedict Cumberbatch pops in for a fun Dr. Strange bit and there are enough fight scenes to keep action junkies entertained throughout. Also working in its favor is the fact the film doesn’t take itself seriously, and even the collections of songs in the soundtrack evoke laughs from the audience. (Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” was an inspired choice.) Thor: Ragnarok really does have it all and claims the title of the most entertaining Marvel movie to date.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material
Release Date: November 3, 2017
Running Time: 130 minutes