The Big Picture

Thor: Ragnarok

The least favorite Avenger is back for a third standalone movie, which could well be on its way to boost the God of Thunder’s reputation, in Marvel’s latest production, Thor: Ragnarok.

Joining the joyous adventure, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, and Tessa Thompson appear in eccentric looks that could put the Capitol citizens from The Hunger Games to shame in a story that doesn’t lack humor and surprises à la Marvel.

In the film coming out today, Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) sister and goddess of death, Hela (Blanchett), returns to Asgard after escaping from prison with the intention to do some serious damage. Bad luck for Thor who, kicked out of his home, ends up stuck on the garbage planet Sakaar. Captured by bounty hunter Valkyrie (Thompson) to serve as a gladiator for the Grandmaster (Goldblum), he quickly discovers he’ll have to fight his “colleague” the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) to survive. Then begins a race against time to assemble allies and help prevent the destruction of Asgard.


A surprising director who delivers

“Marvel’s most unorthodox hire to date,”  idiosyncratic New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi, “helms a zippy space adventure,” which succeeds in making Thor “sunnier, sillier and funnier,” demonstrating his “gift for turning goofiness and gab into personality.”

Thor: Ragnarok is a “bonkers escapade” delivering not an “action movie leavened with humor, but a full-bore comedy using blockbuster spectacles as a backdrop for gags.”  Although the film’s story development can be “exasperatingly lazy an uninteresting,” Waititi’s “feather-light touch imbues the whole affair with effervescent jollity.”

But sadly, even the most talented director in the world couldn’t prevent the superhero production to be “uneven” due to Marvel’s annoying habit to “seek out interesting directors and make them bend to their will.” Ragnarok “eventually caves into a climax or three of profoundly uninteresting excitement” and “sags when it actually has to be a true, hardcore Marvel movie.”

Perhaps “Mr. Waititi’s truest achievement here” is making Chris Hemsworth look “happier and far more relaxed” as Thor in “one of the most flat-out enjoyable comedies of the year.”

Tessa Thompson makes a fine Valkyrie

It’s important to note that the movie “boasts a newly minted action heroine you find yourself wishing could get her own franchise going right away, no waiting.” Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie gets “a great introduction” in Thor: Ragnarok and “develops into a real character with emotion.”

But Cate Blanchett gets the movie’s dullest role

“If there’s a weak link in the line-up it’s Blanchett’s Hela.” Reminiscent of the “least favorite parts of a movie,” “Hela’s villain one-liners,” delivered by the great Cate Blanchett, “are half-hearted and weak.” The “overgrown Goth Girl with smudged eye makeup and killer dominatrix looks who plays very hard” is ultimately “outshone” by Tessa Thompson’s “surly” part. “Here scenes, while essential to the plot, feel an unwelcome distraction.”


Best quotes from the reviews:

“Try to fit it into an established mould at your peril.” – James Dyer, Empire

“Of Gods, monsters and silly jokes.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“It’s an arch and winking cousin, or companion piece, to Guardian of the Galaxy, with a tone and verse all its own.” – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

“I’d say roughly 20 percent of “Thor: Ragnarok” is terrific and 20 percent is a drag, leaving 60 percent in the comfortable, predictable middle.” – Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune