Sunday, November 5, 2017

Movie Review: Thor: Ragnarok

The latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a brightly colored ride of hilarity and gorgeous special effects from brilliant director Taika Waititi. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) begins the film trapped in a cage after following a bad dream about Ragnarok, the end of Asgard. Thor has been captured by the demon Surtur (Clancy Brown) but he breaks free and uses his hammer to fight off Surtur's demon's soldiers and knock off the demon's crown. He tries to get called back to Asgard but it takes a minute since Skurge (Karl Urban) is now in charge of the Bifrost. Thor does returns along with a severed dragon head and finds that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is in charge maintaining his disguise as Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Thor and Loki head to Earth where Loki stashed him but the nursing home is torn down. With the help of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Thor finds Odin in his last moments. He warns of Ragnarok and their sister Hela (Cate Blanchett).

The goddess of death returns from her imprisonment and chases Loki and Thor through the Bifrost portal and knocks them out into space. Hela returns to Asgard and takes over murdering many of Thor's friends. The killing is a bit incongruent with the lighter tone most of the film takes. Thor wakes up on a waste planet Sakaar and is captured by the drunk Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), a former Asgard warrior. Valkyrie takes Thor to the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) who decides to pit Thor against his best warrior, Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Thor discovers Loki has already set up there for weeks and earned the Grandmaster's trust. As Thor waits to fight Hulk, he meets Korg (Taika Waititi), a hilarious rock creature who likes to plan revolutions. Thor fights Hulk in a spectacular battle and the god of thunder nearly wins but the Grandmaster uses the shocking device in Thor's neck to throw the match.

Thor wakes up with women tending to his wounds and Hulk soaking in a hot tub nearby. Hulk is a lot more talkative than before but is reluctant to help Thor. Finally, the green monster is convinced to call Valkyrie who doesn't really want to go along with Thor's plan. Thor escapes and returns to the quinjet preparing to return to Asgard just as Hulk bursts in. Hearing Black Widow's voice causes Hulk to turn back into Bruce Banner who is very shocked to be on an alien planet and to have missed the last two years. Together they reunite with Valkyrie who has capture Loki. The god of mischief proposes breaking into the Grandmaster spaceship hangar with a code he knows but then Loki betrays Thor but not before Thor puts one of those shocking devices on his back and leaves him. The group flies out of Sakaar with the Grandmaster's fleet attacking them but Valkyrie makes short work of them with a little help from Thor.

Back on Asgard, Hela has raised a dead army including her giant wolf Fenris and recruits Skurge to her side. Heimdall (Idris Elba) leads a resistance gathering as many Asgardians as he can. He sneaks them to the Bifrost as Hela finds their hideout but Thor has returned to challenge her. Thor fights his sister while Hulk fights Fenris. The people try to escape through the Bifrost but are beset by the undead army. Loki shows up with Korg and a ship that can fit all the remaining Asgardians. Thor loses an eye in the fight with Hela but learns there is only one way to defeat her, cause Ragnarok. Hulk defeats Fenris as Heimdall and the others fight of the remaining dead army and Skurge has a change of heart before succumbing to Hela's wrath. Loki causes Ragnarok by throwing Surtur's crown in the eternal fire and the giant monster destroys Asgard. Hulk tries to fight it but Thor tells him to stop. They all escape on the ship while Hela fights the giant beast and perishes. Thor takes the crown looking a lot like Odin and decides to head to Earth. 

Thor: Ragnarok is probably one of the funniest movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe putting up competition with other sci-fi romps in the series. Hemsworth is great as a comedic Thor and it's nice to see a familiar face change and grow more comfortable with the role. Waititi imbues the whole film with humor except for Hela who is done brilliantly by Blanchett as the evil goddess. Ruffalo is funny too as a recovering Banner and I'm glad the green hero gets more screen time in a film beyond the Avengers. Tessa Thompson has a great role in Valkyrie playing the character with a stunning swagger. Waititi has made a brilliant film and elevated the weakest two heroes in the Avengers into top notch stars of a hilarious and fun film. 

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