‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Review: A Fun Ride All The Way Through

★★★

CONSENSUS: ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is a very fun ride from start to finish, providing mostly great jokes and visuals along the way – but not without narrative flaws and lightness that might keep some viewers away.

Thor: Rangnarok is Marvel’s funniest movie yet. To say that about a franchise in its 17th film is rare, but Kevin Feige and Marvel began crafting the MCU slowly for it to have a huge pay-off, and it has certainly been working.

Directed by Taika Waititi, Thor: Ragnarok finds Thor and Loki, after a confrontation with Cate Blanchett’s Hela, being exiled to a planet called Sakaar, where he finds himself used as a fighter to go against his old friend, Hulk.

After Kenneth Branagh positioned him as an uber-serious God in his fish-out-of water tale, “Thor” (2011), the character has been in trouble regarding hs characterization. Joss Whedon understood that the essence of the character lied in giving him some humor to play off of his persona in “The Avengers”, but that characteristic wasn’t kept in the wildly uneven “Thor: The Dark World”.  With “Thor: Ragnarok”, Waititi has developed Whedon’s idea even further, making Thor hilarious, also thanks in part to Chris Hemsworth’s knack of improvising. The actor has proven to shine best when put in comedies, like in “Vacation” or “Ghostbusters”, and this is no exception. In my opinion, he finally has stepped into Thor’s shoes perfectly. While the redefinition of the character might prove a bit jarring for some, you forgive it for being so great.

It’s not without its flaws: without getting into spoilers, throughout the film, the story jumps back-and-forth between Thor and the gang in Sakaar, and Hela in Asgard. While Cate Blanchett delivers a delightful performance as the evil Goddess of Death, the Sakaar storyline involving Thor, Hulk, Valkyrie and Loki is so entertaining and funny that when you go back to Asgard, the momentum slows down considerably. This is a constant problem with the MCU: their villains have the potential to be great, but the script never serves them accordingly, going in favor of the heroes.

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As for the other characters, Hulk is also redefined, with excellent comedic effect. Mark Ruffalo is again great in the role. Tessa Thompson is an amazing addition to the MCU as Valkyrie, bringing her excellent acting chops to a character with an important backstory. Tom Hiddleston as Loki never gets old.  Jeff Goldblum, in the limited role he has, excels in his scenes.

The action sequences, although limited, are handled extremely well by Waititi, making me understand why Warner Bros. is looking for him to take the Akira gig.

Something else to keep in mind, is that the film puts humor above all else, and in the end, it hurts the sense of urgency or stakes within the story; you never feel that the characters face some kind of real danger. While past MCU films tended to be action films with some comedy sprinkled above, “Thor: Ragnarok” feels like a comedy with some action sprinkled above. But again, Taika Waititi’s comedy is so great (as he had proven before with ‘What We Do in the Shadows’) that in the end, you are willing to accept it and enjoy the ride.

The post-credit scenes are weak, and not very memorable, something that has happened for the third time this year with Marvel after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 and Spider-Man Homecoming, making me think that maybe they’ve lost their touch with them.

 

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