Thor: Ragnarok is the Thor we deserve, finally
There is never a shortage of action-packed entertainment garnished with seamless humour.
However, what you get is a Thor movie that's simply less serious and way less dark in tone than the previous movies.
After years of being the least-revered franchise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Taika Waititi assumes the director's chair to steer the Thor narrative in a whole new direction.
Much of the movie's appeal that makes it better than the previous installments is Waititi's deft touch in juggling frothy humour and deathly substance to tell a story of the evolution of Thor as a worthy leader of the Nine Realms.
The story centres around Thor's journey to save his Asgard home from the destructive wrath of reborn evil, Hela (Cate Blanchett), in the absence of Odin (Anthony Hopkins).
After his initial confrontation against the malevolent conquest junkie results in the destruction of his iconic Mjolnir hammer, Thor gets stranded on the garbage planet of Sakaar where a bounty hunter, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), sells him to the planet's ruler, the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), who promises him freedom if he wins a battle against Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) who's been missing since the Battle of Sokovia.
The big fight between Hulk and Thor does not disappoint as it delights the audience as much as it does the fictive spectators in the movie's Contest of Champions arena.
Throughout Thor's stay, he tries to put together a 'Revengers' team to help him save the celestial realm of Asgard from Hela and her army of undead zombies.
He makes several attempts to recruit Valkyrie after discovering a secret from her past that somehow links her to Hela, and also meets some resistance trying to drag a refreshingly snarky Hulk off to Asgard to fight his battle.
Tom Hiddleston reprises his role as the deviously tricky Loki who's still mostly doing things in the interest of no one but himself.
Thor's story arc that affords him room for a lot of character growth is one of the sticking points of Ragnarok as he adapts to new powers and responsibilities in accordance with what fate throws at him.
The movie's bold choices make it extravagantly imposing in appearance yet smart enough to avoid the over-the-top cartoonishness of Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
Even with world-ending stakes involved, the movie refuses to take itself too seriously to have just enough fun to entertain the audience and enough graft to tell a decent story of growth.
Ragnarok entertains its audience with sorcery, fire demons, zombies, a giant wolf, and a fire-breathing dragon that appears to have escaped from the set of Game of Thrones.
There is never a shortage of action-packed entertainment garnished with seamless humour that some might consider to be mindlessly irreverent in parts.
Some of the best highlights belong to Hulk who abandoned the Avengers team at the end of Age of Ultron and remained missing during the events of Captain America: Civil War.
Ragnarok is arguably the best anyone has seen of the green giant as he delivers on lighthearted gags and generally dominates the screen anytime he's on.
The previously mild-mannered Bruce Banner has also undergone a little transformation and it'll be fun to see how he fits back in with the rest of the Avengers lineup in 2018's Infinity War.
Despite her undeniably electrifying performance, Blanchett's Hela joins a cast of Marvel's largely forgettable supervillains.
Sure, she is the catalyst for much of what happens in the movie and is in one of its best action sequences with her razor-sharp fangs and quick comebacks, but she is too rote to register as terrifying despite the high body count she racks up in her campaign of destruction.
The audience is largely informed to her evil through what she says about her own terror and flashbacks that don't really sink. This is significantly responsible for why the movie's grand and colourful climatic battle is considerably underwhelming.
The one problem that plagues Ragnarok, regardless of its overall majestic results, is the fact that its humorous backdrop sometimes betrays its emotional beats.
This is why when a major character who has been around since the first movie dies, it doesn't generate as much stir as it probably should.
Even Thor's immortal Warrior Three pals are killed off with very little fanfare than they probably deserved. Lady Sif is also absent from this one because Jaimie Alexander couldn't get off the set of 'Blindspot' to feature, and she is just conveniently forgotten by Ragnarok's writers.
Next to Hulk, Valkyrie is the most momentous newcomer here as she also undergoes a minor arc that makes her useful to Thor in the battle for Asgard.
Her transition from uncaring alcoholic hunter to gun-toting sword-wielding warrior comrade might have been handled a little bit shoddily than the writers had room for, but Thompson shines and is one of the movie's highlight.
Waititi is a scene-stealer himself as he features as a blue CGI rockpile-revolutionary, Korg, who Thor encounters and bonds with while in Sakaar. He delivers killer lines with a relaxed demeanour that elicits some of the movie's best belly laughs.
Benedict Cumberbatch also makes a dashing cameo appearance as Dr. Stephen Strange and his presence reminds the audience of the incredible world that Marvel has been building from the days of 2008's Iron Man.
17 movies later, and Thor: Ragnarok is an audacious addition to the MCU that also sets up the highly-anticipated Infinity War with one of its end credits scenes.
It goes without saying that the movie's aesthetics is stunningly unique and the music is just the perfect tonic.
While Thor: Ragnarok may not be the best movie in the MCU, it's definitely the best in the Thor franchise as it monumentally raises the bar for the god of thunder.
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