MADISON, Wis. - When a movie pairs the Norse god of thunder with a giant angry green man, it's hard to take that premise as anything other than ridiculous. And luckily for moviegoers, the team behind “Thor: Ragnarok” has as much ridiculous fun as possible with that idea, and the resulting movie is a hilarious good time. “Thor: Ragnarok” stands as one of the best Marvel movies yet.
Chris Hemsworth plays the titular role, a Thor with a bravado that's endearing rather than arrogant. He’s doing his Thor thing, swinging his hammer, basically living the invincible life that any heroic deity would. Such a character is at risk of becoming stale. If Thor can use his indestructible hammer to get out of any situation, why would the audience ever fear for his safety? And that's why "Thor: Ragnarok" smartly makes sure to destroy that hammer. Not entirely powerless, but incredibly vulnerable, we’re back to feeling suspense at Thor’s fate.
Hela (Cate Blanchett) is the movie's villain this time around. She’s the self-proclaimed goddess of death, and while she's leagues more interesting than the bland dark elves of the last Thor film, she still suffers the same problems of most other Marvel cinematic villains. Hela is simply too one-dimensional, bent only on conquering the universe, she's just evil, and there are no shades of gray to her. Fortunately, the trickster god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is back again, giving his half-brother, Thor, grief throughout the film.
Additionally, Jeff Goldblum arrives to the Marvel universe as the Grandmaster, the being who rules a vibrantly colored trash world in which aliens compete in a gladiator-type arena. Goldblum does what Goldblum does best, and that's be Goldblum. Quirky, idiosyncratic, Goldblum steals the show every time he's onscreen. And of course, the Hulk himself (Mark Ruffalo) reappears here, and is far more talkative than simply yelling phrases like “Hulk smash!” As a result, at one point the Hulk even shows emotion after Thor tells him nobody likes him on Earth. It's a welcome surprise to see a sad, sulking Hulk rather than one who simply smashes everything in sight.
The light touch to the film, the subversion of the superhero genres, and the punchlines all combine to make “Thor: Ragnarok” a thrilling ride from start to finish. The synth-tinged score and vibrant color scheme are small touches, and yet they help to freshen up this film in huge ways. Those feeling superhero fatigue ought to give “Ragnarok” a chance, and I’m guessing they, along with everyone else, will leave the theater with a giant smile on their faces.
Loper Rating: 4.5 Jeff Goldblums out of 5.
Jokes miss more often than they hit in 'Bad Moms' sequel
"A Bad Moms Christmas," comedy, starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn
Every character in the film plays an outrageous caricature rather than a real person. The movie might have worked better staying grounded in reality, but instead goes over the top, and the jokes miss more often than they hit.
Loper Rating: 2.8 droopy Christmas trees out of 5.
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