I find it quite odd that everyone always says the latest Marvel is the ‘best one yet.’ It always feels too hyperbolic a statement, building these movies up to a place they can never top once you see it, allowing disappointment to set in. Well, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, it pleases me to report that Thor: Ragnarok is the funniest Marvel film so far and pure unrelenting entertainment. Director Taika Waititi was the perfect choice for this sequel to the often-beaten-up Thor films of the MCU canon. Taika’s hilarious nature and goofy wit is soaked into this film all the way down to bone marrow. Every single set piece is hilarious but most importantly serves to move Thor’s journey further than he’s ever gone in his previous adventures. The Jack Kirby palette makes you wonder why the MCU waited for Guardians of the Galaxy to get so vibrant.
The history of Asgard is a shady one. To be so glorious is to destroy entire realms of existence. Asgard looks so beautiful because they plundered their riches for ages stopping at nine realms because Odin (Anthony Hopkins) could not control his ultimate weapon, his own daughter, Hela (Cate Blanchett). So, Odin locks her away and proceeds to rule as just and fair as possible, glossing over the carnage, knowing full well his past shall one day return to bite him and his folk in the ass. Sure enough, Hela returns to Asgard to claim a throne she believes is hers, showing no mercy to those in her path. As expected, it is up to Thor to stop her maniacal rule and with a little help from some old and new friends, he sets out to do just that.
Everything here is a blast to behold. From the opening sequence, which I intend to watch a million times at home, to the massively entertaining mid-section, to the applause-worthy finale, Thor: Ragnarok is a theme park ride. It never loses steam once it begins, constantly throwing wonderful jokes at you, juggling well-established MCU lore as well as new and exciting gags cooked to perfection by the whip-smart filmmakers.
The performances in this film are A+. Every single actor brought their greatest skill set to this boisterous, colorful beast. Chris Hemsworth has only gotten better and better as the God of Thunder. His comedic timing in this film is everything. It shows a maturity in his character, earned from his experiences from Thor, Thor: The Dark World and his adventures with The Avengers. He is indelible and, most importantly, worthy of the title. Cate Blanchett is delicious as Hela. She struts with complete confidence as if she won America’s Next Top Model and all the champagne is hers for eternity. Clearly having a ball, she is a wonderful villain with intense purpose and enough attitude to carry 30 more films.
There are several wonderful performances here, again, every actor really ran with this stuff, but none could hold a candle to whatever the Hell Jeff Goldblum was doing with his Grandmaster character. He plays a leader who’s a million-plus-years-old and man does it show. Imagine all the magical Goldblum quirks you love dialed up to 11 and you are nowhere near the level of Jeff I am speaking of here. He, much like Cate, is in hog heaven with this role, creating one of the best additions to the MCU yet. Tessa Thompson who has already blown people away with Creed and Westworld adds yet another notch on her belt for her turn as Valkyrie. She is from top to bottom untouchable. Strong, haunted, and stubborn, she is a knockout in this with some of the best action beats of the film.
In a motion capture performance, director Taika Waititi plays Korg, an alien made entirely of rocks who is forced to fight in gladiator games. He is show-stealing perfect here, with a soft gentle Kiwi accent contrasted with a hardened battle-ready exterior. Trust me, you’ll bust up several times whenever he is on screen. The decision to make Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk act like a four-year-old this time around gives us a much more vulnerable monster and Ruffalo runs with it. His Bruce Banner is fantastic as well, filled with a nervous energy, he bounces off Hemsworth flawlessly. The film never once gets boring because of the cast, making Ragnarok MCU perfection.
When the MCU is on, they are unstoppable. Bringing our favorite heroes to life as well as creating fun rides with a tune-in-next-week Star Wars-esque interconnectivity that, let’s face it, completely works. Ragnarok is an entry worthy of the Thor series, an entry that honors its past while thrusting the God of Thunder further out of his comfort zone, forcing him to earn his place in the universe. Every action scene clicks and is driven home with great purpose. One cannot simply bury the past and gloss over it is our main theme here, and Taika and company deliver the goods. Imagine a Galactus piñata the size of a truck, with Thor tossing his hammer into it, exploding the piñata, causing candy to rain down on you. That is Thor: Ragnarok. A wonderous thing. It’s the most fun I had in theaters in 2017 and I cannot wait to see it again and again.
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