I have never been impressed with the Thor movies. The first one is my least favorite of the first few Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies, with the exception of “The Incredible Hulk,” of course. There are only so many times I can watch an iteration of the “haha, look how socially inept Thor is; it is even funnier because he is so powerful, haha” joke before I want to find my own hammer and bash my skull in.
That being said, “Thor: Ragnarok” is a breath of fresh air for not only the character, but the genre as well. It is dynamic, lighthearted, and exciting throughout.
My primary beef with Thor is that the second movie took itself too seriously. The elves, the ancient wars — it all seemed too far of a cry from the first movie: an exiled prince in an unfamiliar land trying to be worthy of his title. It did not fit with the rest of the MCU. I mean, the film was literally called “The Dark World.” Because Thor is one of the few MCU characters not based solely on one boring floating rock in space, I have always felt that the character should have the same feel and color as “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
“Thor: Ragnarok” not only feels like a “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie, it feels more like one than “Guardians, Volume 2” did. The film’s setting is a junky, portal-ridden planet called Sakaar, ruled over by the erratic Grandmaster, excellently portrayed by Jeff Goldblum. Sakaar is colorful and diverse. There were so many different things going on inside the arena-based city that the Grandmaster resides in. During one street-level scene, I almost felt like I was watching the cantina scene in “A New Hope.” There were so many different aliens doing strange and random things.
The thing that separates “Thor: Ragnarok” from its in-universe peers is its spontaneity. According to director Taika Waititi, about 80 percent of the film is improvisation. I did not realize this while watching the film, but after reading about it and hearing Waititi say that, the film becomes that much more impressive. The dialogue felt conversational, an aspect that so many screenwriters tend to stray from. And the whole thing was saturated in comedy. Who would have thought that the Hulk could be a slapstick comic?
With the large amount of improvisation in this film, it could have easily become a fan-service-filled mishmash of poorly connected funny scenes, which was honestly what I was expecting. But all of “Thor: Ragnarok’s” apparent madness fit very snugly into the parameters of the plot.
The one thing I will say is that there is a definite lack of character growth in the main cast, with the exception of Loki. He has a few moments of real change, but everyone else stays the same. That being said, the character motivations were sound enough. These characters are pretty well established right now and it is hard to continually have development over the course of three solo films and a couple of teamups thrown in.
All in all, “Thor: Ragnarok” is by far the best of the Thor movies and in my top five best MCU films, as well. It does a fantastic job of keeping the stakes high while not falling into the trap that “Thor: The Dark World” did and take itself too seriously. It is definitely worth going to see while still in theaters. Go check it out.