“Thor: Ragnarock” is a good example of what every mainstream superhero movie should be. It’s fun and colorful, packed with wisecracking exuberance and flashy, exciting CGI effects. But most of all, it’s a lot of fun.
Chris Hemsworth is back as Thor, the hunky, long-haired, hammer-wielding hero. Here he’s joined by his troublemaker brother Loki (portrayed by the ‘I was born to play this character‘ Tom Hiddleston), an old friend (Mark Ruffalo), and a former Asgard Valkyrie warrior (Tessa Thompson) to return to his home and fight to stop the total destruction of his people. Cate Blanchett joins the cast as the wicked sister Hela and she’s the perfect demonic villain who turns out to be quite the powerful nemesis.
At the hands of quirky director Taika Waititi, “Thor: Ragnarock” takes a true path of its own, veering away from more of a serious action film into a solid sarcastic comedy. Waititi’s deadpan, sarcastic fingerprints are all over this movie and it works. At times some of Thor’s smartass comments are a little too reminiscent of “Deadpool” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” and feel like an irritating imitation, but the humor is genuine and has a lot of heart. As a result of the cast feeling super comfortable in their characters, everything comes across as effortless, easy and fun.
What’s not so fun is that parts of the film seem to have been workshopped to death, in particular the inclusion of strong female characters. I love seeing women hold their own in superhero films, but at times their presence seems forced. (But Hela is an outstanding villain, one of the best in any Marvel movie). There are also some unfortunate forced crossovers with a few distracting superhero cameos that don’t add anything at all to the movie (I’m talking to you, Dr. Strange), and much of the banter between Thor and Hulk seems contrived. But you didn’t come here to see the plot or evaluate the script — you bought that ticket for the astonishing production values and colorful action scenes, and they won’t disappoint.
The film has an enjoyably rapid pace until the last 30 minutes, where it starts to lag and suffocate under the weight of the nonstop computer animated action sequences. It’s an eye-popping spectacle no doubt, but most viewers will start to wear down after a couple of repetitive minutes of the routine finale. The movie is big and loud, but at least it’s not dumb — and that makes all the difference.