Over the last handful of years, Marvel has largely set the superhero industry standard. Much of the what the studio touches turns to gold, with even its smallest films yielding a profit. While DC seems to be coming on strong this year with its Wonder Woman success, Marvel continues its string of successes with its latest release, Thor: Ragnarok.

Thor: Ragnarok is the third installment in the franchise, bringing back series regulars: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, and Idris Elba. This time, fellow Marvel alum Mark Ruffalo joins in on the fun. The film is directed by the New Zealand based, indie-film darling Taika Waititi. The script comes from Marvel alums Eric Pearson and Craig Kyle

The film finds Thor and Loki struggling to take on their incredibly powerful older sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) when she sets her sights on their home world of Asgard… many more details would be spoilers. 

The film feels like a notable departure in tone from not only the previous Thor films, but the Marvel franchise as a whole. Waititi brings his sharp comedic sensibilities to the movie, and the change is absolutely refreshing. The previous Thor films have struggled in one way or another, not holding up as well against some of the stronger solo Marvel entries, featuring characters like: Iron Man and Captain America. However, Thor: Ragnarok stands out with a refreshing comedic sensibility. In a world of superhero movies that take themselves far too seriously, this one enjoys itself and is a genuine pleasure to watch. 

Looking at Thor: Ragnarok from a narrative and aesthetic perspective, the film seems to be taking a page from the book started by James Gunn’s work on the Guardians of the Galaxy series.

Along with being thoroughly entertaining, the movie looks different than the previous Marvel movies (with the exception of Guardians). The color palette is rich and vibrant. So many of the previous films have been very urban, resulting in dingier color schemes. Even while the previous Thor films had a similar out-of-this-world feel, their design was never quite as bright and strong as it is in this film.

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The performances in the movie are equally stellar. Every single actor appears on-point, committed, and having an absolute blast with the freshly evolved tone of the story. In particular, Cate Blanchett slays in her portrayal of Hela. The character takes a gigantic step ahead of the other Marvel villains in terms of character development. She is seen fully fleshed out in regards to her motivations, and at times her point-of-view actually makes sense… you can see why she’s doing what she’s doing. As the story plays out, Hela is strong, independent and thoroughly interesting to watch. In a world of full of Ronan the Accusers… definitely be Hela. 

Further props must be given to Tessa Thompson for her portrayal of Valkyrie. This character also seems to be turning new ground in the Marvel universe. Thompson establishes her character as a unique and powerful warrior in her own right. She’s an absolute delight throughout the film as she repeatedly takes on and (despite her drunkness) occasionally bests our title character. Audiences see Valkyrie as a fun, motivated and fully fleshed out character. Furthermore, she doesn’t find herself pigeon holed as a love interest. Rather, the relationship feels competitive and playful, more like friendship. The creative team must be applauded for finally presenting a female character with narrative value other than her role as the main character’s girlfriend.  

However, these are just two in a host of solid performances. Everyone from Chris Hemsworth to Tom Hiddleston and Jeff Goldblum put forth career performances. Chris Hemsworth has shown no fear in tackling comedic supporting roles. In his starring role in this movie, he shows just how versatile he is. Throughout the film, Hemsworth shows legitimate comedic chops, and a well-developed sense of comedic timing. Much of the film rests on his shoulders, and Hemsworth carries it with ease. 

All in all, this is a fairly boring review. The word of mouth for Thor: Ragnarok has been staggeringly good, and it is truly a great film. The movie shows the team at Marvel exploring new territory, and the story clicks with remarkable success. The film comes in strong, establishing itself as one of the strongest entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. If you are in anyway a fan of the Marvel movies, make sure you get to Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok opens in theaters around the country starting November 3rd.

 

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Kimberly Pierce

A film nerd from my earliest years watching Abbott and Costello, that eventually translated to a Master’s Degree in Film History. I spend my time working on my fiction projects in all their forms, as well as covering film and television.
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