Thor: Ragnarok

One of the biggest challenges with an ongoing series is crafting a story that is on par or better than the prior offering and that the characters continue to grow so audiences do not get a rehash of what they have seen before.

With “Thor Ragnarok” Chris Hemsworth has returned for his third solo outing, and fifth outing overall as the heroic Asgardian warrior Thor.

This time out Thor is on his quest to track down the Infinity Stones and finds himself plagued by visions of Ragnarok: a legend detailing the fiery destruction of his home of Asgard.

With an action laden opening, Thor believes he has ended the threat and returns home to find his father Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins), has been sent to Earth and his evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) assuming his place.

Thor ventures to Earth with his brother which sets a series of events into motion, the result of which unleashes the long imprisoned Hela (Cate Blanchett), who plans the subjugation of Thor and Asgard. Naturally Thor is not going to put up with this, but finds himself mid battle knocked out of his transit home and on a remote world called Sakaar.

As if being stranded far from home is not enough of a challenge, Thor is forced to become a gladiator for the erratic Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), whom Loki has managed to charm and become a part of his inner circle.

As fate has it, Thor becomes matched with The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and must find a way to survive and make his way home before Hella can destroy all that he holds precious.

The film is the best of the Thor films and it is engaging from start to finish. There is a significant amount of humor in the film but it does not feel forced and is very appropriate to many of the scenes. The film also has plenty of action and the blend between comedy and action is deftly handed by Director TaiKa Waititi who never lets the film become a parody of itself nor take itself too seriously at times. He knows when there is a time to laugh and when there is a time to be deathly serious.

This allows for a deeper and more enjoyable and engaging Thor than has been previously seen. He is not as one-dimensional as he has been in the past as the strong, quick to anger muscle that I would love to see explored in further outings.

I had worried from the trailers that the movie might be more of a video game as it seemed heavily dependent on retro style CGI and camp humor which made it seem like something out of the 80s. While there are elements of that, the film mixes the old and new to create one of the most authentic and enjoyable comic adaptations seen to date. It continues the winning formula of Marvel Studios and of course, sets up the next outing for Thor in “Avengers: Infinity War” as well as the larger Marvel Universe as we a whole. The film also has some great cameos and I am curious to see how the addition of the newly introduced characters will be explored down the road. The return of Hiddleston was also a real treat as he is so good as the mercurial but always sly and dangerous Loki that he commands your complete attention every time he appears on screen.

Marvel has once again set very high standards for comic based movies and has again delivered another winner that you will not want to miss.

4.5 stars out of 5.