‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is Solid, Formulaic Marvel Fun

Thor_Ragnarok_posterFor what it’s worth, this is the best of both the “Thor” trilogy and the recent Marvel entries.


“Thor: Ragnarok” is the 17th installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and features the God of Thunder Thor (Chris Hemsworth) needing to team up with his half-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and a scavenger (Tessa Thompson) to defeat his evil sister (Cate Blanchett). Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban and Anthony Hopkins also star as Kiwi director Taika Waititi helms his first Hollywood film.


I enjoy the first “Thor” overall, I certainly think it’s more enjoyable than people give it credit for, however the second film, “The Dark World,” is hands-down the worst Marvel movie and arguably the only genuinely bad film of the franchise. So while I wasn’t over-the-moon excited for “Ragnrok” it is a Marvel movie so obviously I was going to check it out, and it ended up being a fun film that sticks to the Marvel formula, for better or worse.


Chris Hemsworth has shown in films like “Vacation” and “Ghostbusters” that comedy may be his true calling, and he has always been able to deliver some nice deadpan lines in Joss Whedon’s “Avengers” films. After noting he was getting “bored” with the character, here he is given a chance to give almost a straight-up comedic performance with quips coming left and right, even in some of the film’s more serious moments. This is one of the film’s flaws, same with any Marvel film, because a somber or intense moment will be ruined because someone just *had* to crack a one-liner.


The supporting cast all do a great job, with newcomers Tessa Thompson and Jeff Goldblum standing out. Thompson is beautiful yet intimidating and is a welcome addition to the MCU while Goldblum basically plays his witty, neurotic self as the leader of the planet Thor lands on. And, of course, Tom Hiddleston is fantastic fun as fan-favorite Loki.


Cate Blanchett joins the MCU as Hela, the goddess of death, and…I mean at least she seems to be having fun(?) She hams it up, wears an antler helmet and thick black eyeliner, and the bar to be the second-best Marvel villain behind Loki is very low. However her character and story feels almost unnecessary, as there is already a lot going on with Thor trying to escape a planet. Cutting back to her every ten minutes to remind the audience she exists creates narrative and pacing issues, and by the time we return to Asgard we feel no real threat or cause for her mission and she just feels like an afterthought.


The action and effects are some of the best I’ve seen in a Marvel movie, with two fights in particular being very fun (there’s something about Thor throwing down with his hammer that always puts a smile on my face). However (if you’re catching the trend) the film suffers from the same fate as previous Marvel films where the climax is just faceless bad guys getting killed in endless waves by our heroes.


There is a lot to like in “Thor: Ragnarok” and it kicks off a blockbuster-filled final two months of 2017. It is better than the previous half-dozen Marvel films (not including “Spider-Man: Homecoming”) and serves as a nice return-to-form for the Marvel formula, and for most popcorn loving audience members that will be enough.


Critics Rating: 7/10