Thor: Ragnarok is the third film of the Thor franchise and as it opens Thor (Chris Hemsworth), bound in chains and hanging in a pit that looks like Hell, he begins to explain how he came to this point. He is discussing ultimatums with Surtur (voiced by Clancy Brown) as the fate of Asgard appears to hang in the balance. Actually, Thor is only waiting for his trusty hammer. The scene is cleverly written and Hemsworth again reveals that he is more than just a Hollywood heartthrob. He is a talented actor who has a gift for comic timing that a lot of other actors do not possess. The opening sequence of Thor: Ragnarok sets the tone for wild, fast, funny and escapist entertainment with this third film.
As it stands, I was not the biggest fan of the first two Thor films. There was just something off-putting about them; the second film, especially. With this Thor, director Taika Waititi and writers Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher L. Yost have tapped into what comic book films should be; FUN. The script is filled with very funny gags and Hemsworth delivers most of them with perfect timing. Yet, they have spread the jokes out as well, giving the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Skurge (Karl Urban), Valkyrie (Tess Thompson) and Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) plenty of material to generate their own laughs as well. This is one well-written script and the writers have generously shared the humor with everyone.
The main source of contention comes with Thor’s sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett) and her desire to bring Asgard under her rule. Where is Odin, (Anthony Hopkins) you ask? I can’t tell you that as this is a spoiler-free review. Suffice to say, Hela is a force to be reckoned with. She is as powerful as any villain I have seen in the Marvel Universe. I mean, she destroys Thor’s hammer. Relax, you see that happen in the previews. With Hela on the tear, Thor and Loki have been doomed to another planet where The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum, looking like an exotic bird with colorful plumage) picks contestants to do battle in the local arena. This is where some of the best material is displayed, especially between Thor, Hulk and even David Banner (Mark Ruffalo). Tess Thompson is great as the hard-drinking Valkyrie who, like Thor and Loki, have been doomed to live out their days away from Asgard.
Thor: Ragnarok also has some fun cameos with Matt Damon, Ray Stevenson and Dr. Strange himself (Benedict Cumberbatch) all making appearances. Even director Taika Waititi has given himself a role as a CGI giant with a good heart named Korg who befriends Thor. As the director, Waititi delivers some very robust entertainment. He does a great job of dousing Thor: Ragnarok with a 70’s and 80’s feel complete with Led Zepplin’s Immigrant Song used twice in the film; once in the beginning and at the climactic end battle scenes and it works both times.
If I had any gripes about Thor: Ragnarok it is that the final battle is so effects-laden that it overwhelmed everything and everyone else on the screen. As in the case of Wonder Woman, the effects take over. They are both still fun to watch but the story kind of checks out. However, the visuals are terrific and the score by 80’s maestro, Mark Mothersbaugh is a perfect fit for the mood and tone of this film. This is a playful film that is sure to please even the stingiest of fans and I am one of them. I must say I have become burnt out by all of the comic book films. I know I am not alone, but Thor: Ragnarok seems to recognize this and put me at ease. This is grand entertainment.
There are two post-credit scenes in Thor: Ragnarok. One halfway through the credits and one final shot at the very end of the credits so stick around to the very end of everything.
Thor: Ragnarok – **** out of 5
Thor: Ragnarok – Rated PG-13 for comic themed violence and language
Thor: Ragnarok – Run Time is 130 minutes
Thor: Ragnarok is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations nearest you.