‘Thor: Ragnarok’ brings the thunder

 

Review by Grant Dillard, Staff writer

Photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

The “Thor” series hasn’t exactly been the greatest series of films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first “Thor” from 2011 was a good movie, though it wasn’t up to par with other MCU Phase One films like the first “Iron Man.” The second movie, “Thor: The Dark World” was a fine yet forgettable follow-up that had some good action scenes but featured a bland story and cringe-worthy comic relief from Kat Dennings. The latest installment, “Thor: Ragnarok” is thankfully the best “Thor” film by far, as well as one of the best installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

For the past two years, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been on a quest to find the Infinity Stones. During his quest, he finds out that Hela (Cate Blanchett,) the Goddess of Death, has returned after many years to ignite Ragnarok: the end of Asgard. Confronting Hela, Thor’s hamner, Mjolnir gets destroyed and he ends up being flung across the universe. Wanting to get back to Asgard and prevent Ragnarok, Thor will have to first survive a gladiator match against a familiar friend: The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo.)

If there’s one word to describe “Thor: Ragnorok,” it would be “Different.” The film very different from the other “Thor” films audiences have seen before. This is most prominent in the film’s tone, as it’s an all-out action comedy. The other “Thor” films have had humor before, but the action and drama were always center stage. Here there’s plenty of hilarious jokes and banter back and forth between characters, and it never comes across as corny or lame. The humor is handled just right and even though there’s still a great amount of action and story, “Thor: Ragnarok” is easily the best comedy of the year.

Alongside with the keen humor, “Thor: Ragnarok” has the most interesting and eventful story of all the “Thor” films.It was a bold yet clever decision to have Thor’s hammer destroyed as it adds a level of vulnerability to the character. The God of Thunder is still very powerful and can put up a good fight, but without his hammer it does raise the stakes on whether or not he’ll be able to get out of his predicament alive. Hela makes for a menacing antagonist and is the toughest enemy Thor has faced. There’s a scene early in the film in which Hela takes on an army of Asgardian soldiers, which shows how powerful an adversary she is. She also has an interesting backstory that ties into the early history of Asgard, as well as Thor’s father, Odin. On top of that, Cate Blanchett absolutely shines in the role. Overall Hela is one of the better villains of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The film also benefits from a fantastic supporting cast. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is brought back into the mix and is just as mischievous as ever. Like in “Thor: The Dark World,” Loki and Thor end up having to work together to fight a greater evil, only it’s given much more focus and is utilized in a better story. The Hulk is taken in an interesting direction for this film. Hulk has stayed the “big green guy” for over two years to the point where he doesn’t want to go back to being Bruce Banner. Hulk actually speaks a lot more than before, though not exactly in complete sentences. He’s basically a big monster with the mind of a child.

The best supporting character has to be Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie. She used to be a great warrior of Asgard, but due to a tragic event from her past, she’s cast herself out and usually to numb the pain.However, she’s not a stick in the mud all the time, as she does seem to have a playful relationship with Hulk. Eventually when she does end up helping Thor in his journey, she makes for a tough fighter who’s not easy to defeat. Valkyrie is easily one of the best female supporting characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and will hopefully be featured in more films in the future.

Thanks to great characters, a good story and a wicked sense of humor, “Thor: Ragnarok” is a smash hit and a fantastic addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s definitely better than “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and just as good as “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” though whether or not “Thor: Ragnarok” is better than that film will most likely depend on personal preference. Overall, Marvel Studios has done a wonderful job with their movies this year and should continue to provide top-notch entertainment at the movies for years to come.