‘Thor: Ragnarok’ a rocking success (review)

October 31, 2017

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ a rocking success (review)

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The third Thor movie successfully follows the winning Marvel Studios formula of action, humor, character development and more humor.

“Thor: Ragnarok,” starring Chris Hemsworth, may be the best Thor movie yet thanks largely to its co-stars Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), Tom Hiddleston (Loki) Cate Blanchett (Hela) and no thanks to Jeff Goldblum, who hammed up the role of a central villain, the Grandmaster. When did Goldblum decide that he will play himself in every movie, regardless of what the script dictates?

Director Taika Waititi allowed a generous amount of humor into the film, largely handled by Hemsworth, but never allowed it to become silly. Most of the humor is appropriate and breaks the tension of the non-stop battles.

Waititi, who also plays Korg, a rock-encrusted supporting character, juggled the established personalities of Thor, Loki and The Hulk perfectly. Hiddleston, as always, plays Loki with just the right amount of snide cynicism, but manages to make him likable. That’s quite an accomplishment for someone who has almost destroyed the Earth (in the first Avengers film) and betrayed Thor as often as he saved him.

The plot is a little tricky. Thor, with the help of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) locates his dad, Odin, just in time to watch him burst into a shower of sparks and die. Thor then learns his heretofore unknown sister, Hela, the goddess of death, plans to take over Asgard. Thor tries to stop her but is easily defeated and banished to the battle planet of Sakaar, a plot pulled right out of “The Hulk” comics. There, Thor is forced to battle his old friend, the Hulk, who was last seen heading into space.

Worse than that, Thor has to endure Goldblum’s fussing.

For the climax, Thor gathers up all his comrades to launch an attack on Asgard to try to free it from his nasty sister.

The special effects are as amazing as audiences have come to expect from action movies, but the film really shines with the “buddy cop” chemistry between Hemsworth, Ruffalo and Hiddleston. There are also plenty of visual jokes, including one of the better appearances of Marvel godfather Stan Lee, and also cameos by Matt Damon, brother Luke (not Liam) Hemsworth and Sam Neill.

Akron-born Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo) does a great job with the musical score, which includes a near-perfect placement of Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song.”

And, like most Marvel movies, this one fits snugly in the studio’s continuity, right between the last Avengers flick, (“Age of Ultron”) and the next, (“Infinity Wars”). It is no coincidence that this month’s “Incredible Hulk” comic book features a return to Sakaar and the latest Thor comic features him back in Asgard with a back-up feature reprinting the first battle between Thor and Hulk.



Who: With Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins and Jeff Goldblum. Directed by Taika Waititi.

Rated: PG-13.

Running time: 130 minutes.

When: Opens Friday.

Where: Area theaters.

Grade: A-