Chris Hemsworth Tom Hiddleston Cate Blanchett Mark Ruffalo Tessa Thompson
Anthony Hopkins Benedict Cumberbatch Idris Elba Jeff Goldblum Karl Urban
Thor has seen rocky times in two previous versions (Thor, 2011; Thor: The Dark World, 2013), but in the hands of the gifted director Taika Waititi, Thor: Ragnarok is deemed much more successful. Additional factors contributing to quality are the writers (Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, and original Marvel comics); the diverse, finely talented cast; the imaginative cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe; and the special and visual effects.
One of the distinctions of this action film is the inclusion of emotional elements (sibling rivalry, family issues, friendship, loyalties, humor) and depth of story, along with the stronger roles given to women, more so than almost any other action film, except for Wonder Woman. Cate Blanchett as Hela and Tessa Thompson as a Valkyrie have special powers and hold their own in physical combat with the men.
In searching for the Infinity Stones, a holdover from the Avengers franchise, Thor (Hemsworth) is captured by the fiery demon Surtur (voice of Clancy Brown) who prophesies the end of Asgard (Odin’s realm) in an apocalypse called Ragnarok. Thor is not about to let that happen, and escapes the demon, thinking he has prevented Ragnarok from happening. But his father Odin (Hopkins) is missing, so he enlists the help of Dr. Strange (Cumberbatch) in locating him, which he does with a number of flashy demonstrations. Thor talks to his father, and learns that his sister Hela (Blanchett), who has been in prison, will be released, will be claiming the crown, and will implement Ragnarock as the Goddess of Death. It turns out that she has higher ambitions than her father, with wishes to control the whole world. Thor decides to take her on, and goes to Asgard.
But the black-clad Hela with a gorgeous body and an antler headdress is formidable, and not only does Thor lose his hammer, he is banished to the world of Sakaar, ruled by the weird Grand Master (Jeff Goldblum). He finds his brother Loki (Hiddleston) already there, and sees that he has gained the confidence of the Grand Master. The brothers are as competitive as always, and Thor winds up being made a gladiator scheduled to fight the current champion—none other than The Hulk (Ruffalo). Thor is delighted to see him, but soon discovers that Bruce Banner is no longer present, and The Hulk fully intends to destroy him. Eventually, Thor, Loki, the Valkyrie, and The Hulk wriggle out of the confines of Sakaar, and rally the support and arms they will need to thwart Hela’s ambitions.
Back on Asgard, the people are unhappy with Hela’s merciless rule and destructiveness, and under the leadership of Heimdall (Elba), attempting to avoid Hela’s soldiers and escape to a safer place. Thor and his team of “Revengers” will be fighting the battle of their lives when they arrive.
Balancing out the action scenes are many allusions to a wry kind of humor. Calling their team the “Revengers” is one; the Grand Master insisting on calling Thor the “Lord” of Thunder, rather than a god, rankling Thor, is another; and key people refusing to join the Revengers because they “don’t want to get into a family squabble” still another example. Many of these jokes were sprinkled throughout the action sequences late in production, increasing the run time twenty minutes, but Waititi considers it well worth it. I would agree.
Thor: Ragnarok easily entertains with adventure, challenges, family fights, and humor.
Grade: A By Donna R. Copeland