Ever since the release of 2008’s Iron Man from Marvel Studios, the Marvel movie making machine has not slowed down. The output of Marvel movies increased further when Marvel Studios was purchased by Walt Disney, as there have been at least 2 Marvel Cinematic Universe films released every year with the exceptions of 2010 and 2012. While most if not all of those films have been successful, the mighty Thor has somewhat struggled with critical acclaim. 2011’s Thor received mixed to positive reactions, and it’s sequel, Thor: The Dark World, is often regarded as one of the weakest entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the arrival of Thor: Ragnarok finally here, can the God of Thunder finally lay claim to his own great solo outing?
Thor: Ragnarok sees Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleson), discovering a secret buried deep within their family history involving Hela (Cate Blanchett), the goddess of death. Hela disposed of them quickly, and Thor finds himself on the planet Sakaar. There, he must recruit his former Avengers teammate and now celebrated gladiator, the Incredible Hulk/ Bruce Banner (voiced by Lou Ferrigno, portrayed by Mark Ruffalo), and a former Asgardian warrior, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), to battle Hela before she takes over Asgard and the cosmos.
While Thor is indeed an Avenger, he’s always felt like one of the B-level members of the team, and his solo outings don’t quite compare favorably to his teammates, Captain America chief among them. Thor: Ragnarok, however, finally delivers everything we’ve ever wanted in a Thor movie. Thor: Ragnarok is the most colorful, and quite possibly the funniest, Marvel Cinematic Universe film to date.
Chris Hemsworth may be exploited mainly for his chiseled abs and chest, but he’s always done an excellent job as the God of Thunder. He oozes charisma and has excellent comedic timing this time around, making his third outing as Thor his finest yet. Tom Hiddleson is as sleazy as ever as the God of Mischief Loki, making him an excellent counter to Hemsworth’s Thor. The combination of Lou Ferrigno and Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk brings the most laughs we’ve ever seen from the character, and it’s good to finally see Marvel take a more light-hearted approach while still delivering enough emotional baggage with the big guy.
Cate Blanchett may seem like she’s above material such as this, but she brings her Oscar caliber chops to the table as Hela. Sure, she suffers from the same issue seemingly all Marvel villains have, i.e. “I want to be the ruler of them all” syndrome, but she’s one of the more memorable villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tessa Thompson also gives a knockout performance as Valkyrie, proving she’s an actress to be reckoned with. While Jeff Goldblum is essentially playing the new internet parody version of himself as the Grandmaster of Sakaar, he’s equally funny as he is odd. Other supporting cast members including Idris Elba returning as Heimdall and Anthony Hopkins reappearing as Odin do their jobs as well, and even the Thing knockoff Korg played by director Taika Waititi is a comic delight. Even Karl Urban is able to add to the film in his small role as Skurge, proving that director Taika Waititi can get the most out of what is a stellar ensemble cast.
The real star of Thor Ragnarok, however, are the special effects and environments. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s creation come to life in Thor: Ragnarok, as one of the most vibrant and lively comic book settings are fully realized like never before. Asgard is as breathtaking as ever, and remains of the key staples to Marvel’s other worldly universe. The latest addition that takes the cake in terms of new environments is the planet Sakaar. Sure, on the surface it looks like a glorified landfill in space, but within the city and the palace of the Grandmaster is a colorful setting that transports you to another universe that is nothing short of breathtaking.
The action sequences also deliver in a big way. The battle between Thor and Hulk on Sakaar is one of the best fights Marvel has ever choreographed, and the final battle on Asgard is as compelling of a climatic battle as you’ll see on film. Director Taika Waititi delivers the most vivid and lively Marvel film yet, and that’s no easy feat considering it’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s clear he and Marvel decided to go all in on the visuals and effects for Thor’s third outing, a welcome move considering Thor is Marvel’s most creative and vivacious comic book. One must take full advantage by viewing the film in IMAX 3D to get the full scope of the landscape.
Thor: Ragnarok is gem. It’s got great performances, tremendous action, and vibrant visuals. Just when you think comic book movie fatigue may be setting in for moviegoers, Marvel delivers another must-see comic book movie. Thor: Ragnarok should rank towards the top of Marvel’s best films, as it is the perfect Marvel movie, and it may one day be widely considered one of the best comic book movies of all time. Make no mistake about it, Thor: Ragnarok rocks.
Rating: 4/4 Stars. Pay Full Price.
Thor: Ragnarok stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleson, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Hopkins. It is in theaters November 3rd.