After sixteen films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still trucking along, captivating audiences worldwide and raking in millions of dollars in ticket sales with each new film. By now, you would’ve expected the MCU to start showing signs slowing down; perhaps maybe even a (slight) dip in quality would inevitably be par for the course for a film series of this magnitude. But if the 17th and most recent entry into the MCU – THOR: RAGNAROK – is any indication of its current state, then MCU fans (or fans of comic book films in general, for that matter) have absolutely nothing to worry about. THOR: RAGNAROK is the epitome of ‘escapist entertainment.’ It is the reason why we go to the movies. It has great action sequences. It has hilarious dialogue. It has interesting characters. But above all else – it’s just F-U-N.
In the two years since the Battle of Sokovia (as seen in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON), Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) has been on a quest to find the Infinity Stones; this explains his absence during the events of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. When we catch up with the son of Odin at the beginning of the film, he is being held captive by the fire demon Surtur. Unsuccessful in his quest for the stones, Thor’s focus shifts to escaping Surtur’s clutches and returning home to Asgard. While captive, Surtur reveals that Thor’s father Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins) has vanished from the realm, leaving Asgard open to its long-prophesied destruction – an event known as Ragnarok. Upon defeating Surtur and escaping captivity, Thor heads home, thinking he has prevented Ragnarok from happening. But as he will soon learn, things aren’t always what they seem.
One of the pleasantries I’ve enjoyed over the last seventeen MCU films is watching Chris Hemsworth evolve and grow more comfortable in his role as Thor during each outing as the god of thunder. In the past, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki would overshadow Hemsworth’s Thor in every possible way, making Loki one of the more beloved MCU characters despite his role as an antagonist. But THOR: RAGNAROK is the first time that I’ve felt that Hemsworth and Hiddleston were on equal footing as far as screen presence. This goes back to my first point in that it’s obvious that Hemsworth has grown more comfortable in the Thor role; his natural charisma and personality oozes from one scene to the next, and it makes his occasional one-liners even funnier than they should be. That being said, Hiddleston’s Loki still manages (after three other outings as the mischievous brother of Thor) to be the glue that holds the film together through his own natural charisma. Hence, whenever Thor and Loki are onscreen together, the chemistry they both have is just incredible, which makes their scenes all the more awesome.
Not to be outdone, however, is basically every other person in the main cast. Cate Blanchett radiates off the screen as Hela, the goddess of death. The beautiful Tessa Thompson (of CREED fame) brings the right stuff as “Scrapper 142,” even holding her own against Loki at one point in the film. Mark Ruffalo returns as Bruce Banner/the Incredible Hulk (which is not a spoiler as this was featured in the first theatrical trailer), and his scenes with Hemsworth’s Thor are a delight. Idris Elba also returns as Heimdall, the gatekeeper of Asgard. Unfortunately, he is not given as much screen time as one would like, but his character is still essential to the film in the latter half, and Elba makes the most of his time. But the MVP award has to go to my main man, Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, leader of the planet Sakaar. I had hoped that Jeff Goldblum’s resurgence in INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (pun fully intended) would lead to more roles for the veteran actor, and upon learning of his casting in THOR: RAGNAROK, I grew the biggest smile on my face. Why? Because the world was going to experience the greatness of Jeff Goldblum once again.
If I had to nitpick something, it’s that the film follows the standard MCU-style of storytelling – big flashy action sequences with some self-aware humor sprinkled in. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Not at all – if the formula works, why change it? I know that there are people who quite enjoy that style of filmmaking. I also know of others who don’t like it, primarily due to the fact that the humor tends to downplay the serious nature of the events the characters find themselves in, which is understandable. Personally, I find that the Marvel films gravitate more towards that because, as mentioned above, it’s just a formula that works, and director Taika Waititi follows it to a T. In the end, if this is the type of storytelling that you enjoy, then you will have a blast with THOR: RAGNAROK. For those who enjoy a more serious tone to their comic book films (as DC Comics have recently shown), then I still think you will enjoy this film. The performances are just that good, the action sequences are just that good, Jeff Goldblum is just that good. Honestly, it would just be really hard not to have fun watching this movie. And to top it all off, the cameos and nods to previous (and possibly future) films show just how great the MCU is at world-building.
From the moment your hear Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” blasting through the speakers, you know you’re in for a wild ride. For those people that are waiting for the moment the MCU starts showing any sign of weakness, unfortunately they have to keep on waiting. With 2 great showings in both GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 and THOR: RAGNAROK, the MCU is riding on all cylinders. This is the perfect film in which to bring the whole family, as I did. So grab your popcorn and beverage, take your seats, and let THOR: RAGNAROK show you another great time at the movies. Kudos to all involved on this film on yet another incredible effort. Your move now, JUSTICE LEAGUE. Highly recommended.
2017 ● 130 Minutes ● United States
Color ● English ● Marvel Studios
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo, Karl Urban