'Thor: Ragnarok is the 17th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What began with 2008's 'Iron Man' has spawned television spin-offs, intricate storylines connecting each film to the last while setting up future installments, and it's all earned more than $13 billion in box office sales. At this point, for me, this whole series of films seems more like a long-running TV show. Some episodes are great, others are alright, and there are some characters you enjoy more than others.
Thor was one of my least favorite characters. That's not to say I didn't enjoy Chris Hemsworth's performance, but being the God of Thunder is kind of hard to relate to. Despite the first two Thor films being polished and fairly well-made, the stilted dialogue and characters were not something I particularly wanted or needed in a third movie. So to my surprise, the filmmakers retooled the Thor formula, not quite starting from scratch but completely redefining the character and tone of this franchise to create something wonderfully gonzo.
Fans of the previous two installments of Thor may be disappointed by the changes, but I found them a welcomed surprise. This entry is directed by Taikia Waititi, the man behind 'What We Do in the Shadows' and 'The Hunt for the Wilder People.' He also makes a voice appearance in the film as a rock monster who gets quite a few laughs. Similar to 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' 'Thor: Raganork' is a technicolor blast and a celebrated change of pace from the typical superhero blockbuster.
Waititi embraces the weirdness of this world and amps up the comic energy and colorfully cosmic strangeness of it all. With entertaining additions to the Thor cast like Tessa Thompson, Cate Blanchette, and the Grand Master of weird Jeff Goldblum, it's ultimately the comic chops of Hemsworth I found the most surprising. Traditionally the stoic and macho hammer-wielding Norse God, he gets the chance to let loose and have some fun with this character. Mark Ruffalo returns to reprise his role as the Hulk, and his interactions with Thor are some of the best parts of this movie for fans of these characters. Like all Marvel films, there are the obligatory scenes that connect to another movie or help set something up and while that is part of the enjoyment of this series at this point, it's also a bit distracting. While this entry does feel more like a contained film in comparison to others, sometimes these movies can just seem like long commercials for the next one.
'Thor: Raganarok' is the best of the solo 'Thor' films. It's a breezy, fun, and strange addition to the Marvel canon and while it may not be their best, it does feel decidedly different than many of its predecessors, and I applaud the filmmakers for the change in tone. Hemsworth is the best he's been in any of the MCU movies here. The supporting cast, which also includes Tom Hiddleston, Karl Urban, and Idris Elba help elevate the proceedings as well. If you're going to see it, check it out on the big screen where it's meant to be enjoyed. This isn't my favorite of the Marvel movies, but it's another solid episode in this massively successful series. I give 'Thor: Ragnarok' a B.