There’s no doubt that 2017 has been a big year for comic book movies, with Logan and Wonder Woman both far exceeding expectations and the years-long buzz surrounding the upcoming Justice League. We’ve also seen the return of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man’s first solo film. That’s a lot of competition, even for the God of Thunder. The expectations for Thor: Ragnarok were not quite as lofty as the other films this year, and for good reason.
As the MCU approaches its 10-year anniversary, one of the few and consistent problems has been the sequels. Iron Man, Thor, and even The Avengers have suffered set backs from their predecessors. While Thor’s first outing was a good time, it ultimately felt like set up for The Avengers. Thor: The Dark World (2013) was a forgettable mess that is arguably the low point of the MCU. The awkward attempts at humor mixed with a poorly developed villain and, quite frankly, far too little ass kicking from the title character did not equal out to a good movie.
Fortunately for “The Strongest Avenger,” it appears that the third time is a charm. Thor: Ragnarok is a thrilling and funny adventure film that I immediately wanted to watch again as soon as the credits were done rolling. This might honestly be the most fun I’ve had at the movies this year!
Earlier this week, the Houston Astros won the World Series. As a fan who seen one or two of his teams win a championship before, there’s a certain feeling you get watching a deciding game. The anticipation leading up to the start of the game. As your team pulls ahead, that anticipation continues to build and all you can do is keep asking yourself “Are we really going to pull this off?” I found myself having the same type of feelings watching Thor: Ragnarok. The opening sequence had me asking if they finally got this right. And every successful scene after replicated those championship game butterflies. Thankfully, under the superb direction of Taika Waititi, Thor: Ragnarok pulls off a huge win.
Almost every major complaint about the first two Thor films is remedied in Ragnarok. The first two spent far too much time on Earth. Watching Thor beat down Frost Giants or Dark Elves invade Asgard were far more interesting than the gang of science misfits eating up screen time explaining answers to questions we never really asked. Thor: Ragnarok is an Asgard story and, luckily for us, when it does change locations none of them are New Mexico. There were far too many forced jokes in the first two, instead of just letting Thor’s fish out of water personality carry that element. Ragnarok is incredibly funny and it’s because the humor feels far more organic to both the character and the narrative.
The action is also greatly improved upon. We’ve seen some of Thor’s power on display before, but it’s always felt slightly turned down in order to put the character on an even playing field with the other Avengers. Well, the only Avenger in sight during Ragnarok is Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), so it allows for a more unhinged Thor.
Finally, let’s talk about those annoying side characters. They’re all gone! The multi-dimensional assortment of characters we get to meet during Ragnarok are an eclectic mixture of personalities, but none of them feel like time wasters.
The cast here is all at the top of their games. After six years of working together, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston have the chemistry to really sell the roller coaster relationship between the brothers. Series regulars Anthony Hopkins and Idris Elba are still far too talented for their limited roles, but as expected they steal the screen while they’re on it. As for the new additions, Tessa Thompson impresses as Valkyrie, Karl Urban makes an impact as the Skurge the Executioner, and I doubt I have to sell anyone on the awesomeness of Jeff Goldblum.
The biggest treat, though, might have been watching the always amazing Cate Blanchett do something about as far from Oscar-bait drama as it gets. Blanchett is all in as Hela the Goddess of Death, Thor’s sibling that makes Loki look downright angelic. In a role that probably deserved more screen time, Hela is more than a worthy adversary for her brother and a big part of that comes from the fact that Blanchett was obviously enjoying herself and not just attempting to expand her brand. As for the man behind the camera, Thor: Ragnarok is bound to turn Taika Waititi into one of the most sought after directors in Hollywood. Along with capturing the humorous elements, he also brings a surprisingly bright visual aesthetic that really keeps you glued to the screen.
Overall, I’m hard pressed to find much wrong with Thor: Ragnarok. The pacing is tight, the action is intense, and the vibe is as fun as can be. I hope that we can get back to this world shortly after Thor and friends face off against big baddie Thanos next year.
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