Chris Hemsworth is a likable, charismatic actor, but his Thor, from the start, has been the dullest, most uninteresting character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The God of Thunder was in need of a re-vamp, and “Thor: Ragnarok” is that film, though the makeover is only a partial success.
This 3rd Thor solo movie gets off to a good start, with a half dozen pleasant surprises in the opening half hour, including some clever cameos, nice additions to the worn-out mythological storyline and the return of Thor’s sometimes evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
Thor learns that Ragnarok – aka the Apocalypse – is coming. The force in charge is Hela, Thor’s older sister and rightful heir to the throne. Cate Blanchett’s become accustomed to villainous roles (“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, “Hanna”, “Cinderella”). And once again she proves she can do evil and devious, but Hela doesn’t have a hell of a lot of depth.
Idris Elba, whose recent career moves suggest the “Thor” series may now be beneath him, reprises the role of Heimdall, while Tessa Thompson (“Creed”) joins the Marvel world as Valkyrie. And as you’ve probably seen in the trailers and on the posters, Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/Hulk is also back in the game. As crazy as it sounds, the Banner/Hulk character brings a much-needed sense of reality to things.
Director Taika Waititi does infuse some desperately-needed energy into the “Thor” series with some fresh locations and inventive creatures. However, at about the halfway mark, “Ragnarok”’s excitement and creativity level drops dramatically, and we end-up pretty much back where we started with this franchise: uninspired.
Ultimately, you can see formula fingerprints all over this film. There’s too much of a “Star Wars” feel when it comes to the action and way too much of a “Guardians of the Galaxy” vibe when it comes to the comedy and soundtrack. Practically all of the attempts at humor fall flat, particularly Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster, who adds nothing.
Overall, “Thor: Ragnarok” is a step-up from Thors 1&2. It has a better flow than the previous stale, stagnant installments. But out of the now 17 films in the MCU, it’s in the middle of the pack.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Thor: Ragnarok” gets a C+.
Running Time: 130 min.