Film Review: ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Reinvents One of the MCU’s Weaker Superheroes

If there was a weak link in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far it was the standalone films of Thor.  Admittedly, the first two installments “Thor” and “Thor: The Dark World” left much to be desired due to their overplayed hand at serious, bruting superhero.  What has kept the MCU afloat with general audiences is their banter and comic infusion.  Director Taika Waititi, known for his eclectic films like “What We Do in the Shadows” and “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” gives a facelift of epic proportions and makes “Thor: Ragnarok” one of the most entertaining blockbusters of the year.

“Thor: Ragnarok” follows the title character Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) as he is imprisoned and finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk (played by Mark Ruffalo).  Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela (played by Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett) from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.

If there are takeaways from the film, there are three: Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, and most of all, Tessa Thompson.  Blanchett’s villainous Hela feels dialed into a much more meaningful ying to Thor’s yang.   Perhaps the fact that she’s appearing alongside Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston), Marvel’s best villain by miles, only helps elevate her evil status.

Goldblum’s Grandmaster is the most “Goldblumiest” he’s ever been and it’s downright hilarious.  Serving no real purpose other than comical beats, he’s well suited to expand on what’s being given to him.

Tessa Thompson’s badassery as jumped to new heights as her Valkyrie seems to be Marvel’s answer to DC’s “Wonder Woman,” showing (ONCE AGAIN) that women should be given their own vehicle in the MCU.  Valkyrie’s backstory is something that’s touched on briefly but should be explored in her own spinoff (hear that Marvel?).

Hemsworth’s interpretation of Thor is pure fun, as he embraces the whimsical sensibilities of a being out of this world, and makes him feel authentically human.  It’s great to see life breathed into him once again.

Waititi’s visual palettes are well placed, as he transforms Thor into a close sibling of the “Guardians of the Galaxy.” This is all helped by his DP Javier Aguirresarobe, whose action shots paired with Zene Baker and Joel Negron‘s editing keeps the film at a great pace.

As storytelling goes, “Thor: Ragnarok” is no different than any other MCU pictures.  Standard has always been there go-to and though they explore loss and legacy in a way we haven’t seen, the end result still feels rather familiar and predictable.  If you’re an apologizer for the MCU and its massive build-up of story, then you will continue your quest accordingly following the end credits.

Thor: Ragnarok” is fun, no doubt.  You can kick back and enjoy your superhero-blasting and deadpan humor for two hours without a hitch.  If you’re looking for something more, well, you probably already know this isn’t the vehicle to take.

“Thor: Ragnarok” is distributed by Marvel Studios and hits theaters on Nov. 3.

GRADE: (★)

Check out the newest Oscar Predictions and see where “THOR: RAGNAROK” ranks!

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MOTION PICTURE | DIRECTOR |
LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | 
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE |
PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS |
ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG |