Thor: Ragnarok movie poster
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Thor: Ragnarok
Thor: Ragnarok movie poster

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Marvel is at its best—or at least refreshingly different—when it goes small, so it’s not too surprising that Disney went with director Taika Waititi, whose last two films cost a combined total of $5 million, to helm Thor: Ragnarok, a movie that is expected to make well over $100 million in its opening weekend alone.

Glowing reviews help, but the only review that really matters is this one, because it’s the one you’re reading and the only you should read because the author is typing these words and would be upset if you betray his trust by seeking a second opinion.

The simple matter is that Thor: Ragnarok is one of the best Marvel movies since The Avengers, or at least the best of any of the Phase Three movies so far.

The second Thor movie is considered one of the worst of all of MCU films—not terrible so much as utterly forgettable—and so the character needed a rebound and got a big one thanks to the injection of a heavy dose of Waititi’s irreverent humor.

Make no mistake: Thor: Ragnarok is funny, and arguably funnier than Guardians of the Galaxy. Waititi’s What We Do in The Shadows is one of the most hilarious movies of the decade (wait, you haven’t seen that one? Seriously, watch it right now) and though he doesn’t have a writing credit on Thor, his influence is seen throughout the movie. From the characters to the situations to the tiny little details you only notice because why not, Thor: Ragnarok is bursting with juicy jokes and odd scenarios that makes the film feel more alive than the cookie-cutter Marvel movies that have preceded it.

Thor has, from time to time, been my favorite of the Avengers team, thanks to the way both the filmmakers and Chris Hemsworth handled the character’s god-machoism to humorous effect, making him both a badass and sensitive yet cocky individual who is constantly upset when someone appears to be tougher and confused when others don’t see things the same way he does. Waititi and the film’s screenwriters appear to have noticed that the previous Marvel films had only scratched the surface of Hemsworth’s comedic abilities and doubled down on those, to great effect.

Hemsworth is terrific in the lead and plays along with every absurd curveball Waititi throws his way. Waititi surrounds him with a cast of likeable, oddball characters such as Korg, a dryly witty rock creature voiced by… Waititi himself. While some of the regulars are back—Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Idris Elba as Heimdall and Mark Ruffalo as Hulk—the additions of Jeff Goldblum as a quirky villain and Tessa Thompson as alcoholic bounty hunter Valkyrie are more inspired.

Waititi tosses his hero onto a literal dump of a planet where Thor spends a good chunk of his time, meeting weird characters in a weird place. These scenes have very little to do with universal domination or destruction, and Waititi seems much more interested, and understandably so, in following Thor as he attempts to escape the colorful, oddball world than anything else.

Less compelling is the storyline about Hela, Thor’s malicious sister, who wants to take control of Asgard once and for all. It’s your stereotypical “evil villain wants to take over the world” plot and even Cate Blanchett can’t do much but go along with the ride, offering up a surprisingly bland, seemingly invincible bad guy (never explained: why does she have different powers than Thor?) that will go down as yet another forgettable Marvel villain. One suspects that had Waititi had full control, he might have kept the entire film on his garbage-planet and let Goldblum, who isn’t given nearly enough screen time, to be the main adversary.

The action in Thor: Ragnarok is about what you’d expect from a Marvel movie, though a gladiator battle between Thor and Hulk is pretty entertaining. The movie thrives on its humor and flexing comedic performance by Chris Hemsworth, and for that alone it’s a refreshing change of pace from some of the other recent Marvel movies.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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