Does “Thor: Ragnarok” need any introduction? We’re nine years — and seventeen movies — into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with three more installments planned for release next year, so by this point you probably are either tired of these films or have already bought your tickets.
But it can become a bit exhausting. With all these heroes sharing the screen and no signs of the MCU slowing down, it begs the question: what does this film do to stand out from the crowd?
“Ragnarok” follows Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, as he’s stranded on the alien planet Sakaar. There he must team up with the Hulk, played by Mark Ruffalo, to get back to his homeworld of Asgard and save it from the Goddess of Death, Hela, played by Cate Blanchett, and the impending apocalypse.
The plot sounds dire, but don’t be fooled. “Ragnarok” is hands down the funniest MCU movie to date. Director Taika Waititi made a name for himself directing independent comedies like “What We Do In The Shadows,” which follows a group of vampires living together in New Zealand. Waititi brings that same level of wit and charm to “Ragnarok,” which constantly pokes fun at how absurd the plot is and even at Thor himself. It’s refreshing to have a superhero film that focuses on being fun first instead of taking itself too seriously.
But the fun never crosses into parody territory. There’s still a level of sincerity and understanding to the characters and what makes them tick. This is where “Ragnarok” shines: it’s the first film where Thor feels relatable, and Waititi should be commended.
With the heavy emphasis on comedy, you might be worried that there won’t be any action. But fear not, there’s plenty of action and it’s a total blast to watch. The sequences are a bit CGI-heavy, but each is thrilling and framed so you can always tell what’s going on. Two particular sequences stand out, one of a gladiator-style match between Thor and the Hulk and the other featuring Thor laying waste to enemies set to “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin.
“Ragnarok” does fall victim to a usual Marvel issue: An undeveloped villain. Hela starts off promising, and Blanchett gives a great performance, but she soon becomes an exposition machine and spends most of the film explaining her backstory in scenes that isolate her from the main plot and characters. It doesn’t bring the movie down completely, but it’s a noticeable trend that the MCU needs to work on.
Another minor nitpick is just how gray the movie looks. “Ragnarok” is filled with great costume design and visuals that look ripped from 80s’ metal album covers, but the colors themselves look incredibly muted. If someone went in and saturated them a bit the film could fully achieve the style it’s aiming for.
Still, “Thor: Ragnarok” is breath of fresh air in the MCU. It’s hilarious, thrilling and has a surprising amount of heart. It’s definitely worth seeing on the big screen.