Film Review: Thor: Ragnarok (Marvel)

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Everything you’ve heard about Thor: Ragnarok is true. So very damn true. It’s not just the best Thor film in the trilogy (until now the weakest in the MCU, despite the first two films having their charms), it’s also the most brash, the most colorful, the most irreverent and, above all else, the funniest. Yes, Thor:  Ragnarok is funny as all get out. Like, a really good comedy funny. From the opening moment of Thor in a cage  and on, there are more laugh out loud moments than in a good number of the so-called “comedies of 2017. Director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows) has delivered a film filled with non-stop laughs, action and…yes, fun. My God is this movie fun. Probably the most fun I had in a theater in all of 2017.

Look, right now is the point where if you want to go into the movie as cold as possible, I’d stop reading. Ya know, SPOILER ALERTS and all of that. I didn’t know much when I saw it and that helped me enjoy it more, I feel. Come back once you have. Or not. It’s cool.

Last we left the Thor-niverse, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) had hidden his and Thor‘s (Chris Hemsworth) father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and taken the mantle of Asgard’s ruler disguised as Odin (Loki is, after all, the God of Mischief). Thor, last seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron (well, Doctor Strange, but more on that in a minute), had been on a mission to understand the visions he had in that film.

As the film begins Thor is imprisoned in a cage, recounting his travels to…a skeleton. Seems that Surtur (voiced by Clancy Brown) has captured Asgard’s Prince and is poised to dispense with Ragnarok, the prophecy of destroying all of Asgard. Of course Thor gets out of this sticky situation…

After arriving in Asgard to find Odin enjoying a ludicrous play showcasing Loki’s heroic death (as seen in Thor: The Dark World), and featuring Loki hilariously played by Matt Damon in a cameo, Thor forces his brother’s hand to reveal himself. The pair move to Earth to retrieve their father, but are stopped by Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who sends Loki on a never ending free fall until the moment he lets the pair leave. What’s odd here is that Strange and Thor met in the after credits sequence in Strange’s debut last November, but appear to meet for the first time here. The continuity bugged me…which is odd because those things rarely do, but whatever. Moving on.

Once Thor and Loki find Odin, their father reveals that he is dying and therefore can no longer hold back their sister, Hela (played with delightful malevolence by Cate Blanchett, camping it up to the hilt), from returning to Asgard to attempt to claim her right to the throne. Neither knew Hela existed before but they certainly get more than they could have bargained for and both are shot across space in a fight with Hela as all are attempting to return to Asgard.

From there I won’t reveal anything more of the plot, except to say what you know from the trailers. Thor lands on some bizarre junk planet ruled by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum – I seriously could watch an entire Grandmaster centered film, he’s that great), captured by Tessa Thompson‘s Valkyrie, to fight against the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).

My God I know this sounds like gibberish, but Waititi is a freaking genius for finally unlocking the key to the Thor-niverse. Thankfully gone is Natalie Portman‘s Jane (the breakup, Thor sheepishly says, was mutual), who was a real drag on the plots of both previous Thor films. I kinda wish Kat Dennings was around to bemoan the loss of Thor‘s “meow meow” (Mjolnir – his hammer), but I can hear her in my head saying it, so it’s cool.

Everyone in the film is fantastic: Goldblum, Waititi (playing a blocky, Thing-like fighter named Korg), Blanchett, Hiddleston, Ruffalo and Karl Urban (as the traitorous Skurge). Thompson (Creed, HBO‘s Westworld) continues building what is sure to be a very impressive career. Plus, I got a little bit of a crush on her, so there’s that. But Hemsworth is truly the star here…finally relaxing fully and having fun with Thor. After being one of the few shining moments of last summer’s bomb Ghostbusters, Hemsworth should definitely try his hand at comedy more.

I know it’s going to do killer box office, but if you’re even a casual fan of superhero films, this insanely funny and irreverent take on the genre is absolutely the sort of thing that is needed for these movies right about now. It’s time for a change and what Waititi has done is just sheer brilliance. I can’t wait to see this again.

Lastly – go see Thor: Ragnarok in IMAX or in RPX or in a Dolby Atmos/Cinema. It deserves the best screen and the biggest sound.

Thor: Ragnarok

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