Thor has been a fun character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He is cheerful, boisterous and powerful. He is also boastful and over confident. This drove his first film, while the second film seemed a bit aimless.
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor had a vision of the end of Asgard. He left to get answers and was missing for Civil War. After Thor and Loki locate Odin, they are warned of the coming of Hela…their sister and the goddess of death Almost immediately Hela arrives and destroys Thor’s hammer. In their fight, Thor and Loki are separated and tossed into space. While Hela conquers Asgard, Thor finds himself on the planet Sakaar. Captured by the Grandmaster Thor must fight in the Contest of Champions..and the champion he must defeat? His pal Hulk.
Marvel has done pretty well in tapping directors with limited experience in big budget films and having it work out in their favor. Here they brought on New Zealander Taika Waititi, who is known for his unique comedies. Check out the films Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We Do in Shadows and while laughing, you will likely not think “a Super Hero movie is next!”. But it pays off.
Thor is full of great action and humor. Unlike the previous two films, which were very earth centric, Earth has a brief cameo in the beginning. Otherwise the film is heavily focused on Asgard. To be frank, the previous films really failed to let Jane Foster shine and the relationship never had the strength of either Tony and Pepper or Steve and Peggy. So, the film quickly addresses that “they broke up”.
The film works to give most of the leads “something to come back from”. Thor must figure out who he is without his hammer, Hulk must get back to Banner, Valkyrie must reclaim her glorious standing as an Asgardian Warrior. There is not a lot to these arcs, of course, but the performances and interplay of the characters make it almost easy to miss.
The cast really makes the film. Hemsworth and Hiddleston have a solid chemistry together, where you buy right into their weird sibling relationship in which Loki will betray Thor over and over and Thor is still going to give him a chance. Tessa Thompson gives a real spark to Valkyrie, who could have been a pretty one note character. Cate Blanchett’s Hela is actually not any deeper than previous Marvel Cinematic villains, but Blanchett seems to have had a lot of fun in the role and the result is that I enjoyed her as a villain. It was great to see Mark Ruffalo back as Bruce Banner. The character is a bit shell shocked, which makes sense, as he has been “hulked out” for about two years, ever since the rampage in Age of Ultron.
And of course, there is Jeff Goldblum. The actor you hire when you want a Jeff Goldblum-esque performance. But seriously, Goldblum always delivers, and his Grandmaster is the Jeff Goldblumiest thing you will see all year. Unless Jeff Goldblum is Jeff Goldblum in another film before December 31st, 2017.
Thor: Ragnarok is a real blast of a film. It is light hearted, exciting and quite funny.