Genre: Action and Adventure
Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins
Release Date: November 3rd, 2017
Thor: Ragnarok showcases a new look for the heroic title character and I’m not talking about the short haircut the hammer-wielding Avenger sports in the sequel. The fresh look reveals Thor to be a humorous and a self-aware character, whose charm comes across seamlessly throughout the proceedings. Chris Hemsworth proves to be up to the challenge here and so is director Taika Waititi, who crafts a candy-colored vision here.
The film starts out harmlessly enough with Thor help captive by a demon named Surtur. Instead of being worried about his circumstances, he’s annoyed. This is a character accustomed to defeating his enemies. When he faces off against Surtur, his confidence never subsides. Just another day for him.
That changes quickly.
After he and his notoriously untrustworthy brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) team up to find their father, they discover a hidden family secret. They have an older sister. A banished older sibling who thirsted for enormous power. Hela (Cate Blanchett) escapes her banishment and plans to wreak havoc on her home planet. She destroys Thor’s hammer without a second thought.
Thor’s confidence disappears and so does he from his home planet. He finds himself on the unique planet of Sakaar, which is led by a quirky leader known as the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum).
Much of the plot takes place on Sakaar, which allows director Waititi the opportunity to envision this lively world. Thor is captured by the tough Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and sent to the Grandmaster’s palace. Thor’s introduction to this extravagant site is awash in bright and distinct visuals with a Willy Wonka-style ride introducing the hero to this site.
For his part, the Grandmaster is a wonderfully eccentric leader with the role being played with great delight by Goldblum, who seems like the perfect fit.
The screenplay by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost keeps the plot moving at a steady pace. At two hours and ten minutes, this is the longest of the Thor movies but it keeps things fresh with plenty of laughs and strong characters. A particular comic highlight is Mark Ruffalo, who reprises his role as Bruce Banner/ Hulk. Because Thor and Banner are two of the main stars here, their relationship has the opportunity to really develop here, showing how well the two characters can work together while maintaining a strong fraternal rivalry.
Blanchett, who plays the sadistic Hela, also seems to be having a great time as an older sibling looking to fulfill her destiny. Hela presents a great villain here as someone who knows and understands Thor’s weaknesses and the weakness of her father Odin (Anthony Hopkins, who appears in a few sequences). Her back story really adds a different dimension to Odin’s rise and shows a different side of Asgard. The two-time Oscar winning actress brings the villain to vivid life here although one wishes that she would’ve appeared in more sequences with her two brothers. Instead, for much of the movie, she’s on Asgard while her brothers are on Sakaar.
Thor: Ragnarok is funnier and more colorful than its predecessors but isn’t as strong as the original film, which presented the main character as a fish out of water on the planet Earth. That being said, it’s a entertaining tale that really showcases this character and Hemworth (who was also hilarious in the 2016 comedy Ghostbusters) in a fresh light.
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Review by: John Hanlon