If you had asked me what I thought about Thor as a character two days ago, I would have told you that he’s my least favorite Avenger (aside from Hawkeye…). I would’ve said he’s boring and underdeveloped, and just uninteresting as a person. The first two Thor films, Thor and The Dark World, are easily my least favorite in the MCU, and I wasn’t really looking forward to a third one. I guess my saying that Thor is now one of my favorite characters in any Marvel movie is enough to prove how much I loved Thor: Ragnarok. This is one of the freshest, most delightful films I’ve seen this year, and much of that is thanks to a tonal shift in the franchise.
The first two Thor movies were dreary and slow, with muted color palettes and bland plot lines. Movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, which have been as loud and fun as they are since the comics, are the ones we expect to be so hilarious and colorful. A movie like Thor: Ragnarok, though, isn’t a film I thought would be so different from its two predecessors. It’s vibrant and fast-paced, and I loved almost every second of it. I can’t wait to hear the name Taika Waititi more in the future, because I haven’t seen a bad film directed by him. He’s known for his quirky and eccentric movies, and he magnifies that style in Ragnarok, which I think is its biggest strength.
This movie knows exactly how to time its jokes, and how to perfectly balance the genuinely genius comedy with the serious scenes for an amazing blend of tones. First and foremost, though, this movie is a comedy. From the opening sequence, I could immediately tell what I was getting myself into, and I loved it. The action in just the first few minutes is exhilarating, and the dialogue is snappy and clever, setting the stage for what’s to come excellently.
The extensive cast of characters in Ragnarok gives the story such a unique personality, and we’re introduced to many new characters that expand on the world of Asgard and give us something that we’re not already used to from the other MCU films. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston return as Thor and Loki, as do Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk/Bruce Banner and Benedict Cumberbatch for a brief cameo as Doctor Strange. All the actors reprising their roles are fantastic, especially Mark Ruffalo, who’s never been given this much to do in a Marvel movie yet. Since he wasn’t in The Incredible Hulk, this is the closest Ruffalo has been to a starring role so far, and he stands out among the crowd as one of the best characters.
Making their Marvel Cinematic Universe debuts are Cate Blanchett as Hela, the villainess in the film who actually has an intriguing backstory and doesn’t suck as an antagonist, Jeff Goldblum as the sort of evil “Grand Master”, who is exactly how I expected him to be in this role, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, an awesome fighter and a surprisingly complex character, and director Taika Waititi himself as Korg, my favorite character in the movie and one of the most unexpected and amusing characters I’ve ever seen in a film recently. He’s charming and lovable, and he is given some of the most hysterical lines in the entire movie.
Thor: Ragnarok also succeeds as an action movie, as it shows off some jaw-dropping visual effects and stunts, and manages to tell a huge, epic story without letting the plot fall apart. There are a few plot lines that I feel could have been given less screen time, but overall I definitely felt the ambitious scale of the film, which really impressed me. This isn’t just a sequence of action scenes to feature cool effects and not advance the overarching plot of the MCU. Ragnarok is a movie with impact and well-developed new characters, and most importantly, it made me care about Thor. It’s also competition for the funniest Marvel movie to date, which I think is a pretty notable feat.
— Camden McDonald