Review – “Thor: Ragnarok” a bold and daring new step forward for Marvel

Thor and the Hulk dive deep into the cosmos of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in “Thor: Ragnarok” and with it Marvel Studios and director ‎Taika Waititi join forces to deliver fans a quirky, lean, action packed and surprisingly hilarious adventure.

Armed with a strikingly bold, colorful and inventive art direction and an excellent retro-inspired synth score by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, “Ragnarok” may very well be the best Thor movie in the trilogy. Additionally, it serves as an excellent companion to “Captain America: Civil War” as it deals with two major superheroes that were absent from the events of that major chapter in the MCU, while also delivering memorable new characters such as the scene-stealing and tough-talking Valkyrie (in a star-making performance from Tessa Thompson) and Hela (Cate Blanchett), the hilarious Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum in all his glory), and the soft-spoken rock warrior Korg (whose motion-capture performance was provided by the director himself).

Chris Hemsworth is clearly having fun here, able to showcase his comedic chops previously explored in the Thor shorts in which he tries to temporarily settle down and live a normal life on Earth and get a roommate, while also further honing and developing his character. Mark Ruffalo also gets high praise for his portrayal of Bruce Banner as the two bond during their attempted escape from the wacky planet of Sakaar, where the Grandmaster is the supreme leader and enjoys watching his captured gladiators go at it. The battle scene between the Hulk and Thor is one for the ages and doesn’t disappoint in the slightest.

Blanchett brings all of her incredible talent to make Hela one of the more memorable villains in a Marvel movie. Speaking of villains, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) brings his welcome usual “charm” and backstabbing ways as he tentatively joins forces again with his brother Thor, as they did in the first sequel. It’s always a treat to see the two brothers go at it while trying to make it work between two of them.

Though fans might wonder where Thor’s female warrior ally Sif is during the battle to save their world of Asgard, the chemistry between Thor and Valkyrie drives the movie along in a thrilling and climactic conclusion. Through it all, Waititi never loses sight of what makes Marvel movies so much fun instead of dark, drab, and almost colorless worlds that some superhero films are set in. Indeed, the stark contrast by comparison to “Thor: The Dark World” seems almost intentional, as if it was a reboot of the franchise.

If this is Thor reborn, so to speak, we can’t wait for further adventures, where Marvel should continue to hone their more adventurous and bold style as seen in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” series and teased by the upcoming “Black Panther” coming next year.

Thor: Ragnarok is now playing in U.S. theaters.

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