Jungle
Thor: Ragnarok

In Norse mythology, Ragnarok is an event that signals the death of multiple gods and the destruction of world itself before being reborn anew. Thor: Ragnarok aims to be a game changer, both for the Thor franchise and for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even with everything on the line, the film still manages to feel much like any of the other Marvel films, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Thor: Ragnarok represents the very best of what Marvel Studios does with its visuals, action, and most of all humor.

 

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been unsuccessful in his search for the Infinity Stones after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron and now finds himself searching for his lost father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) to prevent the events of Ragnarok from destroying Asgard. In the process, he learns of the return of Hela (Cate Blanchett), his sister and Goddess of Death, who has returned from being banished to claim the throne of Asgard. Things don’t go well during their first encounter as Thor’s hammer Mjolnir is destroyed and he becomes stranded on the battle planet of Sakaar, where he learns that his old friend the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) has been the gladiatorial champion for the past two years. After reuniting with his old friend, and making a couple of new ones, Thor finally believes they have what it takes to take down Hela and save Asgard before it’s too late.

 

What immediately sets Ragnarok apart from the other Thor films is its approach to humor. Director Taika Waititi does an excellent job at bringing out the comedic abilities of Chris Hemsworth and the rest of the cast to create a film that is more similar in style to Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s colorful and fun, despite the serious nature of its title. For once, a Thor film feels like a galactic space adventure rather than an Earth story that so happens to feature an Asgardian god. While I love the characters of Jane Foster, Erik Selvig, and Darcy Lewis, they most certainly held the films back from exploring otherworldly possibilities.

 

Hemsworth breathes new life into the God of Thunder with his humor. Half the film plays out like a buddy cop movie when he finally reunites with his pal the Hulk, who we finally also get to see as more than just a raging monster but as an entirely separate persona from Bruce Banner like in the comics. Of course no Thor film would be complete without Loki, and Tom Hiddleston once again delivers as the MCU’s best villain. Notable new additions to the film include Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), a badass bounty hunter who teams up with Thor, and Korg, a rock monster gladiator voiced by director Taika Waititi himself. He happens to my favorite character of the film and perhaps of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe as everything he says is absolute gold. Cate Blanchett is great as Hela, although her character suffers from a rather lackluster story like most other Marvel villains.

 

That’s the thing about Thor: Ragnarok; despite its improvements to the Thor franchise, it still feels very much like a typical Marvel movie from a story standpoint, following the same beats of heroes rising up to defend their world from an evil villain. That’s not a bad thing, though, as it’s what Marvel does best. It’s can also difficult to grasp the gravity of the situation when everyone is cracking jokes left and right, so there’s no weight to the film when something serious does happen.

 

That being said, Thor: Ragnarok is the most fun you’ll have at a movie theater this year. The laugh-out-loud humor, gorgeous visuals, and lively soundtrack all keep the energy up throughout the film. It’s impossible to not have a smile on your face. It might not be as game-changing as the the title suggest, but it’s without a doubt headed in the right direction.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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