Directed by Taika Waititi, Thor: Ragnarok is the God of Thunder’s third film, and follows on from Thor and Thor: The Dark World. It’s also notable for continuing Bruce Banner/Hulk’s story after Avengers: Age of Ultron.
With Waititi at the helm, Thor: Ragnarok is given a funnier and more colorful approach than previous entries, fixing many of the problems from The Dark World. Ragnarok gives Hemsworth another opportunity to tap into the delicate balance of comedy and tragedy that defines the character throughout the Infinity Saga, and nowhere is it achieved better than Ragnarok.
When Odin dies, his daughter Hela returns to lay claim to Asgard’s throne. Thor (and Loki) take umbrage to her actions, as it turns out she’s effectively insane and intent on killing as many people as possible. However, she’s more powerful than Thor or Loki, and the resulting struggle sees them flung to the farthest reaches of space where they meet the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and reunite with Hulk, who has been MIA since Age of Ultron.
Ragnarok incorporates elements from the comics’ Planet Hulk storyline, which allows Ragnarok to take on a buddy-comedy tone, something which sets the film even further apart from previous installments.
Ragnarok‘s comedic tone and colorful presentation are eye-catching, and its easy to get swept away in the sheer fun of the film. It does have its darker moments though, bringing with it a hint of Shakespearean tragedy and a heavy dose of Norse mythology, the blend of which makes for an incredibly unique story.
Hemsworth, Ruffalo, and Hiddleston are all excellent in reprising the roles of Thor, Hulk, and Loki respectively, but Ragnarok also manages to introduce new heroes, too: Valkyrie and Korg. With so many characters involved, the film has a lot of moving parts and epic action sequences that make for an unforgettable experience.
That said, there’s a fair amount of poor acting on show. Thompson’s performance is relatively inconsistent, and Cate Blanchett and Karl Urban are both straight-up hammy as villains Hela and Skurge. Even Idris Elba’s Heimdall seems generally uninterested in the film’s story – and these less than stellar performances are contrasted by the depth of character Hemsworth brings to Thor.
Thor: Ragnarok has an excellent soundtrack, making expert use of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” as Thor’s battle music, but its action sequences use such extensive CGI that there are times where it feels as though the film has simply become animated. This undercuts some of Ragnarok‘s impact (and, despite its many light-hearted moments, it makes some major developments for both Thor and the MCU at large), leading to a film that feels like slightly less than it deserved to be.
Thor: Ragnarok is undoubtedly the character’s best solo outing so far, but its style is hampered by its attempts to be subversive, and it comes off as a film with a minor identity crisis. Still, it’s enough fun to make the audience forget all about its shortcomings, and that’s a major win for Waititi.
Summary: Thor: Ragnarok offers plenty of character development and a story that rattles the entire MCU, but it’s not without its flaws, and they detract from the film’s overall quality.
Highlights: Literally every time Korg opens his mouth.