The God of Thunder returns in his third solo outing and this time he must save Asgard from Cate Blanchett's Hela, the Goddess of Death. But not before he escapes the clutches of The Grand Master (Jeff Goldblum), who forces Thor to participate in a gladiatorial match with his "friend from work".
By adding his unique, nutty humour into the mix, director Taika Waititi takes Thor and the MCU in a new direction. Ragnarok is dark and serious and light and funny, all at the same time, and Waititi manages to strike a perfect balance between the two. Despite all of the changes - well tweaks - this still looks like a Thor movie, they haven't tried to distance Ragnarok from the previous entries. But whereas the first two did feel kind of separate from the galaxy we see in Guardians, this one bridges the gap by bringing Asgard into the wider universe.
So it's only fitting that our hero faces a new kind of villain. First there's Hela. Having escaped the prison that has held her for thousands of years, she's more than a little angry, and she's got a real chip on her shoulder when it comes to Thor, Loki and Asgard. But Hela is definitely enjoying her new found freedom. Blanchett took the role for her children who are apparently Marvel Comics fans. She does a great job of anchoring the serious side of the story. Then there's the Grand Master, in his performance Goldblum is essentially playing himself - except for the dictator bit. But the character is so odd and quirky that you can't imagine him being played by anyone else. He's also the brother of Benicio del Torro's "The Collector". Watch out for Rachel House (The Hunt for the Wilder People) as the Grand Master's right hand woman, Topaz. House's deadpan performance plays off Goldblum's quirkiness perfectly.
The very colourful junk pile planet of Sakaar - inspired by the work of Jack Kirby - exists in the arse end of the galaxy and it looks absolutely incredible. In fact it's Sakaar - and a little history from Hela - that helps to connect Thor's realm with the Guardian's galaxy. Everything is built from the junk that continually arrives from the many wormholes surrounding the planet. Thor himself is also sporting a new look, he's dressed down a bit and he loses a lot more than just his hammer along the way. Although I wouldn't call this a road trip movie, some of the changes in Thor's life put him on an inner journey of discovery as he tries to figure out where he's going and what he must do.
Backing him up on this journey are some old friends and some new ones. When he meets up with Hulk, Banner has been away since the events of Age of Ultron. Hulk is enjoying life as a champion gladiator and has even developed some basic language skills. Mark Ruffalo looks like he's having a lot of fun with the character, especially his scenes as Banner who wakes up on a strange planet with no idea how he got there or how long it has been. Loki is still very much the God of Mischief, I get the feeling Hiddleston and Waititi enjoyed playing with this character. Tessa Thompson plays Valkyrie, a battle hardened Asgardian warrior. Working as a bounty hunter/mercenary on Sakaar, she's got a serious case of PTSD and is running from her past. But the show stealer is Korg, a Kronan played by Waititi who based the character's voice on that of Polynesian bouncers. Korg and his buddy Miek are revolutionaries, but they aren't very good at it so they are forced to fight as gladiators for the Grand Master.
I'm definitely in the minority as a fan of all three Thor movies, but I will happily admit that Ragnarok is the best of the three by far. There are some great cameos to watch out for and you will not stop laughing throughout. My one complaint would be that once again the Warriors Three are given all too short an appearance. I appreciate what Waititi and co. were trying to do but I still would liked to have seen more of them. On the other hand, it is great to see the bosses at Marvel are learning from their past mistakes. Instead of hiring directors for their particular style and then tying their hands behind their backs, the bosses are actually allowing said directors to do the job they were hired to do, and the results are nigh on perfect!
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