The previous Thor films have proven to be quite a mixed bag. The first film by Kenneth Branagh was interesting because of how it played into Branagh’s Shakespearean sensibilities. But its sequel Thor: The Dark World was a giant black hole of mediocrity with no creative vision and is the worst film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. Thank goodness for the idiosyncratic visions of director Taika Waititi who does a complete 180 on the first two films by making Thor: Ragnarok into a superhero comedy. While there are moments where Thor: Ragnarok attempts to go serious that don’t mesh well with its colorful tone, when it does go colorful, fireworks emerge.
Thor: Ragnarok takes place about a couple years after the events of Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds both himself and his adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) transported into another dimension after confronting his older sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) who was imprisoned by their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and who looks to take over the land of Asgard. In the new dimension Thor is in, he finds himself reunited with his fellow Avenger, the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and must join forces with him, bounty hunter Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and Loki to defeat Hela in a race against time.
Not only is Thor: Ragnarok the best of the Thor films, but Chris Hemsworth manages to give his best performance as Thor to date. He was very good in the first two films and even managed to make The Dark World watchable. But here, he gets to flesh out his charisma and comedic timing that his previous outings as Thor and Hollywood at large seem to have underutilized. Chris Hemsworth is quite a funny man. See this and last year’s Ghostbusters reboot for proof. But because most of his non-MCU films are more serious, he hasn’t been able to show off his comedic star potential. Hopefully, Thor: Ragnarok could be a slight turning point for him.
Tom Hiddleston is also terrific once again as the mischievous Loki along with Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner. But the new additions manage to be true scene-stealers. Chief among them is Tessa Thompson as the rebellious, heavy-drinking warrior Valkyrie. Tessa Thompson is both charming and super badass and makes you wish that she could get her spinoff film. She is just that impressive. Even though she previously made her mark in films like Dear White People and Creed, Thor: Ragnarok is surely her “star is born” moment. Also, Jeff Goldblum gets to give a typically eccentric “Jeff Goldblum” performance as The Grandmaster, the ruler of the strange planet Thor lands on. Even though she was rather wasted as the main villain, Cate Blanchett still gives an enjoyably scene-chewing performance.
As previously mentioned, the film does make attempts to go serious. Particularly, an earlier scene that involves Thor and Loki interacting with Odin and also scenes where Hela is taking over Asgard and its citizens. Yet, those scenes don’t mesh well with the rest of the film which probably would’ve been a tad better and a tad more interesting if it had just been a full-out comedy. The film tries to have its cake and eat it too by being an out-there comedy and a traditional superhero film with dramatic stakes. But it doesn’t entirely work.
Other than that major flaw, Thor: Ragnarok is still an enjoyable experience that manages to be the best film in the Thor trilogy and the most fun. Chris Hemsworth is the best he’s ever been as Thor while the rest of the cast manages to be quite game as well. By the time the credits roll, it’ll probably have you blasting “Immigrant Song” time after time.