“Ragnarok has already begun,” says fire demon Sutur (voice of Clancy Brown). “You cannot stop it. Why do you fight?” “Because,” says Thor, god of thunder (Chris Hemsworth), making the first of many wry, self-mocking comments, “that’s what superheroes do.” Ragnarok will destroy Asgard, Thor’s homeland and bring its civilization to an end. Thor’s long-lost sister Hela, goddess of death (Cate Blanchett), determined to replace their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), says, “I am Odin’s first-born, rightful heir to the throne, destined to rule all the realms.” That’s the setup for “Thor: Ragnarok,” an odd sequel because it doesn’t take itself seriously.
Can Thor save Asgard and its people? Will Hela defeat her brothers, Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston)? Is this the best of the Thor action films? For answers, see “Thor: Ragnarok.”
“Lost my father!” Chris Hemsworth declares as Thor. “Lost my hammer, and (most distressing) lost my hair!” Thor is no longer the predictable (some would say “boring”) superhero of two previous films. Here Thor is a new and, often, funny god of thunder. Imprisoned in planet Sakaar’s Contest of Champions arena, facing an unknown, fearsome reigning champion, Thor shouts with relief when it’s Hulk who enters: “I know him! He’s a friend from work!” A funny line that Hemsworth delivers nicely. Other cast members join the fun including Mark Ruffalo as Hulk who fights Thor but, as alter ego Bruce Banner, bonds buddy-like with his old friend. Thor’s trickster brother Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, reveals unexpected sibling feelings, and Tessa Thompson, tough bounty hunter Valkyrie, admits to a drinking problem.
Others in the cast include Cate Blanchett as Hela, slinky villainess in black leather who sprouts 12-point antlers when she’s angry. Anthony Hopkins is deposed king of Asgard and stressed-out father of three difficult children. Jeff Goldblum smartly overacts as planet Sakaar’s outrageous grandmaster. Idris Elba is humanitarian Heimdall. Benedict Cumberbatch cameos as Dr. Strange.
“Thor: Ragnarok” is that rare superhero film that’s also a smart comedy. Directed by Taika Waititi, written by Eric Pearson and Craig Kyle, its several narrative threads include sibling conflict, capture/escape from Sakaar and buddy-bonding. Big-screen visuals are also here: loud, over-long battles, color-saturated star-gates, and the obligatory big battle between contending forces. “Thor: Ragnarok” is, after all, in the Marvel universe, but offers lots of other smaller pleasures that deserve a closer look.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and suggestive material, “Thor: Ragnarok” runs 130 minutes, many of which are smart and funny.
Superheroes can be fun —
Just don’t take “Thor” seriously;
“Ragnarok” shows how it’s done:
Mix action with hilarity.