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Thursday
Nov 02 2017

Review: "Thor: Ragnarok"

byChris Feil

The hilariously self-absorbed God of Thunder returns forThor: Ragnarok,a top tier addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to the smart and snappy voice of director Taika Waititi.Even though the film is comedy first and action second in its priorities,it is like getting stuck in the best game in the arcade for two hours.

This time around,Thor faces the unshackling of his apocalypse-hungry sister Hela,played by a horned and horny Cate Blanchett.Hela aims to make good on her prophecy to destroy Asgard in retribution for her banishment,and presents Thor's greatest physical threat to date.Once Thor is cast off himself to the technicolor planet Sakaar,he finds a cast of characters that might help him save his home,including lost Avenger Bruce Banner.

As ever with a Waititi film,Ragnarokis an ensemble effort.Hemsworth is especially attuned to the Waititi brand of goofball,while returning players Mark Ruffalo and Tom Hiddleston play mostly to their previous beats.Blanchett is perhaps given less to do than expected,but her Hela is equally intimidating and worthy of our diva worship.Her brightest contribution is the similarities she shares with her brother - she's equally enamored by her own visage and physicality.Jeff Goldblum plays the Sakaarian Grandmaster with the kind of oddball attitude that only forwards his cult following.Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie is intriguing and accessible,presenting someone truly compelling amongst the silliness.You'll hardly care if you're unfamiliar with the character - Thompson is a goddamn movie star.

Ragnarokand this year'sGuardians of the Galaxysequel suggest Marvel is moving in a more episodic direction,losing the sense of mounting cataclysm that has begun to weigh down the genre in recent years.This feels like a smart move - if we're going to be given an endless stream of these movies,it becomes a more rewarding experience if we're not imprisoned to one connected sequential story.It primes the upcoming chapters,but think of Ragnarok like a delightful appendix.

That doesn't meanRagnarokisn't essential.On the contrary,it's gleeful abandon makes it one of the most unique among the MCU filmography - and one probably most welcoming to folks a few movies behind or completely uninitiated.In Waititi's hands,Marvel is no longer preaching to the converted but creating a comedic world that convinces by its own merits.

Ragnarok does have that tiresome "end of the world"trope (for Asgard,that is),but you never notice it as you do in other recent superhero outings.In a way,it's even more detached from the human cost of extinction than its more gloom-and-doom brethren attempting to make entertainment from destruction.But Waititi turns the audience's predetermined assumption that everything will be just fine (because,duh,we have maybe four more movies coming in half as many years) and turns the conflict into more of a fun kerfuffle than a cataclysm.You can invest in this film for itself,and not as homework or follow-up for other films.

Waititi also revels in what is deeply,delightfully strange about this particular character's mythos.Where previousThorfilms have drenched Asgard in earnestness to campy effect,this one is able to not take itself so seriously in exploring the legend.It's a balancing act that's taken three films (and filmmakers) to achieve so effectively - the silly with the awe-inspiring.He has precisely the kind of point of view that could take the MCU to the next level.

The film is simply so fun to make you forget how familiar much of the elements are - even the ubiquitous "Immigrant Song"feels fresh when stapled into Waititi's enthusiastic anarchy.It's blockbuster escapism that actually provides a satisfying respite from the real world - vivid,weird,and a complete blast.

Grade:B+

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Reader Comments (9)

thanks for the wonderful review

of the 4 superhero movies this year - Guardians Vol.2,Wonder Woman,Spider-man,and Thor-Ragnarok - I enjoyed Guardians and Thor the most.

Wonder Woman was a breakthrough,but take away the breakthrough and the movie itself is not very interesting.Spider-man: Homecoming had tons of predictable laughter,and seriously,there're just way too many Spider-man movies out there.

Thor:Ragnarok and Guardians Vol.2 managed to both surprise me and make me laugh really hard.
And yes,that Hela VS Valkyries scene is something I think about a lot!Epic stuff.

November 2,2017 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

This year's superhero battle...

1.Thor: Ragnarok
2.Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2
3.Spiderman: Homecoming
4.Wonder Woman (weakest link,but impressive anyways)

...JLA comes next,in a couple of weeks?Predictably will be the weakest,given the precedents and the production problems.

November 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

if the industry supports her and she plays her cards right,I think we have a future Best Actress winner in Tessa Thompson.

November 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

^Let's hope so.

Though that "accent"of hers in Thor was not very good.
I don't know whose idea it was for her character to have an accent,
but either way it didn't work for me at all.

November 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterUlrich

Great review,Chris.If they keep up this trend,I just might stop hating comic book movies.Thor,drop thy might hammer.

November 3,2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I pay to see Chris Hemsworth is almost anything- and he is perfectly cast as Thor.

November 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

I hope DC and Marvel movies receive ZERO NOMINATIONS on the Oscar next march.

Beside their qualities...I think is time to refresh the blockbuster system.

No more capes.(Edna Mode modeon)

November 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJon

This might be one of my favorite movies of the year.So campy and silly and over-the-top in all the right places.It didn't take itself too seriously.I thoroughly enjoyed it.

November 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

simply amazing movie and one of the best of this year so far.Ragnarok grasps the comedy at the core of the little funny posture overwhelming superhuman class.

November 17,2017 | Unregistered Commenteramar

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