"Thor: Ragnarok" is an Intergalactic Swashbuckling Good Time
Seventeen Marvel movies later, and we're still given new toys to play with. "Thor: Ragnorak" is a tour de force of comedy, 80s nostalgia, and a punk rock hair-raising party of epic proportions. It's G.I Joe, Spring Break Barbie, and your best friend's Tamagotchi all-in-one.
We open with Thor in a bit of a bind. Literally, he's bound by chain-links the size of his forearms. He's currently trying to defeat big, fiery baddie Ragnarok, if only the chains would quit doing the "Ring Around the Rosie" dance. Keep this Rosie dance in mind, because it's basically the premise of the whole film. After Hela, the goddess of death (and oldest Odin kin), is released with plans to conquer Asgard and beyond, Thor must team up with an unlikely misfit crew to defeat his scorned, rapacious, and (frankly) bitchy older sister. This crew comes complete with intergalactic gladiators, one seriously concussed Bruce Banner, Thor's on-again off-again brother Loki, and a strong-willed ex-Valkyrie refugee princess (the swashbuckling Tessa Thompson of "Westworld") with a little baggage and a big drinking problem. They call themselves the Revengers.
Director Taika Waititi, whose previous work includes last year's festival darling "Hunt for the Wilderpeople," uses Marvel's foundations to his advantage, picking and choosing which elements he wants to plop into this latest stand-alone "Thor" concoction. With major "Guardians of the Galaxy" vibes, "Thor: Ragnarok" is definitely the funniest and most riotous Marvel flick yet. In true "Guardians" or "Deadpool" vein, it's unafraid of poking fun at itself, and Waititi, along with writers Eric Pearson and Craig Kyle, have molded lively characters that you'll be quoting for days. In fact, gladiator Korg, played by the New Zealand actor and filmmaker Waititi, is easily the most enjoyable part of "Ragnarok." High-pitched, candid, and winsome, Korg is basically what would happen if Groot and Drax had a baby. He's recruiting for a revolution, but he "ran out of pamphlets."
As always, it's the character chemistry that truly shines in Marvel films, and "Thor: Ragnarok" is no different. There's a surefire buddy comedy aspect to "Ragnarok"; Chris Hemsworth's Thor and Tom Hiddleston's Loki are a joy to watch tango, and their sparring brotherly relationship is more defined than ever as Loki traipses between the good side and, well, his own side. Similar to this dance is the one between Thor and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who is now a famous gladiator on Sakaar. His main pastime since we last saw him in "Age of Ultron" is "winning" (evidenced by hundreds of fan-made Hulk masks, costumes, and one facial sculpture a la Mount Rushmore). They banter, they boil, they box; by the end of "Ragnarok," you really won't know who you like more— Banner, the "strongest Avenger," or the Grand Master's champion, the Hulk. Speaking of the Grand Master, Jeff Goldblum is delicious and delectable as Sakaar's reigning spokesperson and, you guessed it: Master. Although, don't get him confused— he doesn't have slaves; he has prisoners with jobs.
Even more scintillating is Cate Blanchett as Hela, ferocious and bitter with high standards and higher antlers (with a flick of the wrist, her ebony hair turns into a crown of weaponized antler horns; Hela's way of taking her earrings off before a fight). She's grumpy, unamused, and not impressed with the variety of precious goods in Odin's vault. The blue infinity stone? "Weak." The skull of that Ragnarok baddie from earlier? "Smaller than I thought it would be."
This sarcastic and bombastic humor is carried from beginning to end, and with cameos from none other than Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and a couple other familiar faces (the familiar faces best kept secret), there's an overarching feeling that everyone involved knows this film kicks-ass. Just like that one Christmas present you show off to all your friends, "Ragnarok" is big, shareable, and the best part— no assembly required. So, my friends, get your toy boxes ready, because this is one Marvel adventure you're going to want in your collection.
Directed by TAIKA WAITITI
Written by ERIC PEARSON and CRAIG KYLE
Starring CHRIS HEMSWORTH, TOM HIDDLESTON, CATE BLANCHETT, MARK RUFFALO
Distributed by WALT DISNEY PICTURES
"Thor: Ragnarok" releases everywhere Friday, November 3rd.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit here.