KEY CAST MEMBERS: Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Karl Urban, Tessa Thompson, Jeff Goldblum and Sir Anthony Hopkins
WRITER(S): Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost (screenplay); Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Larry Lieber (based on the comics by)
DIRECTOR(S): Taika Waititi
Unfortunately for Thor, he’s got a bigger problem on his hands: He’s imprisoned on the planet of Sakaar, a literal trash wasteland ruled by a figure known simply as The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). And the Grandmaster is quite fond of his gladiator battle champion, who as Thor will find out is an old friend from work in the form of the Incredible Hulk … Who he hasn’t seen since his alter ego Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) disappeared after the events of the war in Sokovia (that’s the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie again for the uninitiated).
So what is the god of thunder to do since he’s got to (1) battle a former brother-at-arms in the Hulk while (2) worrying about what his actual brother and (3) sister who is bent on bringing Ragnarok (a.k.a. destruction) to their home of Asgard? You’re about to find out!
SO IS IT GOOD, BAD OR JUST AWFUL? A film that is does nothing really wrong but fails to yield something revelatory on its protagonist’s latest (mostly) solo mission, Thor: Ragnarok is a like a meal you’ve had before that you throw a new seasoning on and add a new garnish to on the side. In other words, it’s another win for Marvel Studios, even if it feels a bit familiar despite a few new tasty morsels being added to the mix.
Thor: Ragnarok follows a bit of the Guardians 2 philosophy of (1) a lot of jokes plus (2) an emotional reveal for the lead character and (3) an emotional battle that leaves the hero forever changed. Hemsworth has his part down pat at this part given that it is his fifth go round as the Norse god, as does Hiddleston as Thor’s mischievous brother Loki. Blanchett does her best to make Hela a formidable force even if the crazy-female-family-member thing feels a bit, well, bland after watching it play out in two Guardians adventures (with a bit more teeth to it). Goldblum is a bit of whimsical fun and it’s clear the veteran actor is having fun in his role, which plays well off Ruffalo who portrays Dr. Bruce Banner as an über-nerdy scientist still coming to grips with both himself and his green alter ego to strong comedic effect.
Don’t get me wrong: Thor has plenty of “lol” moments, there are a couple nice surprises along the way and director Taika Waititi – wonder if he’ll go by Taka Waita Flame if he ever decides to try a music career – brings some strong visuals in behind the camera while adding some great laughs as Korg (imagine if The Thing’s had a grey cousin). But whereas Iron Man‘s films always had some sort of cool reveal and the Captain America movies conveyed a serious sense of danger, Thor: Ragnarok instead feels like it just hits all of the necessary beats without one element that hits a hard solo that you’ll be talking about for years to come. But then again, that’s probably what next year’s Black Panther and Infinity War opus is for.
In the meantime, Thor: Ragnarok will serve to look to serve your superhero fix with a solid-if-not-comfortably familiar adventure to tide you over until 2018.