Asgard Faces Doomsday In Thor: Ragnarok
As Thor has been busy searching for the Infinity Stones, he learns things are not well on his home world. Thor: Ragnarok finds the God Of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) captured by the demon Surtur (Clancy Brown), who wants to destroy Asgard with the combination of his crown and Asgard's eternal flame. Thor does prevail and take Surtur's crown and puts in the same safe spot with the flame. Odin (Anthony Hopkins), though, is not there. Thor's brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) poses as their father as the younger one rules the realm. Demanding answers, Thor takes Loki to earth, where Loki took Odin. With help, they find Odin in Norway. Odin announces he's about to die.
Odin's death allows his daughter Hela (Cate Blanchett) to escape from a prison he had created for her due to her desire to dominate the Nine Realms. She immediately creates havoc on Asgard, killing most of the forces loyal to Odin. She does spare Skurge (Karl Urban), who becomes Hela's executioner. She then resurrects the long-dead warriors who had been the most to her. Thor and Loki try to stop her, but she destroys Thor's hammer and casts them into space. They land on the planet Sakaar, where Thor is imprisoned, and Loki is friends with Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), who rules the planet and enjoys his gladiator-style matches. Thor is slated to be the next opponent of the reigning champion, who turns out to be The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who'd disappeared following the events in Avengers: Age Of Ultron. When Grandmaster tries to make the match end in Hulk's favor, the Avengers escape with Loki and Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson), a former Valkyrie who'd become a bounty hunter for Grandmaster. As they plot to overthrow Hela, Heimdall (Idris Elba) shields Asgard's residents, as well as a key item Hela needs to expand her rule.
Thor: Ragnarok is a decided - and welcome - change in tone from the previous two Thor movies. The first two Thor films focused more on the noble nature of Thor, and not so much on the lighter side. The opening sequence of an imprisoned Thor talking to a skeleton sets a tone focused more on action and humor. While a sequence he directed appeared during the credits of Doctor Strange, New Zealand director Taika Waititi makes his first full-fledged effort in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Screenwriters Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost also penned Thor: The Dark World, and are joined by Eric Pearson, whose previous connection to Marvel came with writing episodes of the Agent Carter TV series. They put Thor in difficult situations - including collaborating with his scheming brother - and infuse a great deal of humor into each battle. Both agree, though, that they don't want Ragnarok to happen on Asgard. Waititi brings a faster pace to Ragnarok, and that pace makes this the most exciting of the Thor series. Thor: Ragnarok is the best MCU entry since The Avengers.
Hemswoth, Hiddleston, and the rest of the returning cast still deliver fine work, but the new additions help to take the Thor franchise to new heights. Goldblum is especially good as Grandmaster, who loves his matches featuring the Hulk almost as much as he loves himself. He projects a holographic image of himself before matches to cheering throngs. Grandmaster so loves his own words, he enjoys irritating Thor by calling him the Lord Of Thunder. He prevails over the Sakaarian version of Thunderdome - and Thor sees the bodies to prove that. Blanchett is icy as Hela, whose power proves to be a match for Thor and Loki - and each brother has his own reason for trying to stop Hela from reigning with violence and intimidation. Thompson also impresses as 142, who has become a hard-drinking mercenary for the Grandmaster. Ruffalo shows a sense of regression as he has remained The Hulk, an angry fighter who despises the mention of his alter-ego, Bruce Banner. MCU actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Scarlett Johansson make cameo appearances as Doctor Strange and Black Widow, while Stan Lee appears as a barber who really loves his work. Matt Damon, Luke Hemsworth, and Sam Neill also appear briefly as actors commissioned by Loki to create Loki's version of Asgardian events. Waititi himself plays Korg, who becomes a friend to Thor as Thor awaits battle.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn't made a bad film in a series that began with Iron Man, but Thor: Ragnarok is one of the best in the series. In it, Thor now leads his home world, but finds himself in a fight to save Asgard - as well as himself. In these quests, he finds himself facing more obstacles than ever as many want to see Thor join Odin. Without a hammer, Thor has to find a new way to show his power, and make new alliances in his efforts to keep the Nine Realms safe from those who look to take the power over them.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Thor: Ragnarok 3.5 stars. Even without a hammer, Thor is no Lord Of Thunder.