Directed by: Taika Waititi
Written by: Eric Pearson
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Benedict Cumberbatch, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins
Runtime: 130 min
In the third film of the series, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself imprisoned on the other side of the universe and in the need to get back to Asgard, in order to prevent Ragnarok (the end of Asgard and its civilization) at the hands of Hela (Cate Blanchett), a new very powerful threat.
However, to return to his homeworld he has to fight through a gladiator-like battle in a gladiator-like pit against ... his old friend and fellow Avenger, the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)!
I find the previous Thor movies very interchangeable, they are not exactly great films, but they are still entertaining and enjoyable. However, Thor: Ragnarok elevates that same entertainment to a whole other level ... This is one of the funniest (!) and best movies of the entire universe.
Opposed to the previous installments of the series, this one is tonally very different. The amount of comedy implemented in the screenplay and the outstanding humor make this film surprisingly hilarious and extremely fun. It is definitely a marvelous time at the theater and money very well spent.
Taika Waititi's (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) fantastic direction is all over the movie. He is able to achieve a flawless balance between comedy, drama and action, something that most directors have trouble with. Consequently, the pacing feels incredibly controlled throughout the whole runtime. The 130 minutes fly like the blink of an eye and the film never has a dull moment, but it still slows down when it needs to, without becoming boring.
Waititi also applies a very interesting, intriguing and unconventional way of storytelling, which truly helps the movie carry itself since the overall narrative isn't really unusual. The visual effects and cinematography are both remarkable but in the last act, the action requires a lot of CGI, which becomes too heavy in some brief moments. Due to the mostly fictional Asgard in the background, when the CGI isn't perfect, it feels like a video game ... Thankfully, I am just nit-picking a couple of shots that, in the end, didn't bother me at all.
Eric Pearson's writing is distinctly exceptional with extremely hilarious lines and quite few exposition scenes (the ones that exist don't feel forced at all, except for one or two very concise bits). I believe that he is responsible for a big part of this film's sense of uniqueness and creativity, considering he provides excellent scripts for every character, upgrading each and every one of them and obtaining a more exciting movie.
As for the cast, I just need to once again praise Marvel for its amazing choices, they keep nailing every single actor and actress they introduce to the MCU. Cate Blanchett is unbelievable! She is such a wonderful actress that she can portray a super cliche villain like Hela (Marvel's "default" villains are something that I honestly hope Thanos can change) and bring a whole other dimension to the character. Thanks to her and an extraordinary script, Hela does not feel like (what could very well have been) a cheap villain.
Tessa Thompson is another brilliant casting. Valkyrie adds a new layer of comedy and sass to the film, but her backstory is what gives both herself and Blanchett's character a bit more of depth. The surprise of the whole movie is Korg, a Kronan fighter portrayed by the one and only ... Taika Waititi! You are right, the director of Thor: Ragnarok has the funniest performance of the film! I am far from joking, his lines almost steal the whole show, there isn't a single scene with Korg where I didn't laugh like crazy. It is going to be the audience's favorite, without a doubt.
As for the superstars, Chris Hemsworth proves that he is a perfect Thor. Both his acting and body shape are excellent for the portrayal of a god, he is able to be very compelling but also incredibly funny, carrying the story with no slip-ups. His chemistry with Mark Ruffalo and Tom Hiddleston (Loki) is palpable and their dialogue scenes are always at a great level of quality, both comedy and story-wise.
Hiddleston is great as the evil brother, but Hulk is the one that stands out. The big green guy speaks more in this movie than in all of the others combined and he is freaking awesome! His witty one-liners hit every single time and his action scenes are amazing. There are also some short but very cool appearances from Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange), Idris Elba (Heimdall) and Anthony Hopkins (Odin), plus a surprise performance from someone I won't spoil for you.
Jeff Goldblum is always great, but his character ... I know this is not going to be a very popular opinion, but I find Grandmaster a bit annoying. Karl Urban has a good performance as Skurge, but just like Hela, both characters feel unexplored and pretty under-developed.
My only real issue with the film is something I already mentioned above, which is the story itself. Even though Waititi's uncommon storytelling elevates it, the overall narrative is pretty much the default superhero story. Basically, if you have been alive for the past 10 years, there is nothing about the screenplay that is going to surprise you or blow your mind. Thankfully, the movie is so damn entertaining that the narrative becomes secondary to the all of the action and comedy predominant in the film.
In conclusion, Thor: Ragnarok is definitely worth your time and money. It is undoubtedly the best movie of the series and one of the funniest in the MCU. Taika Waititi (with the help of Eric Pearson) molds a cliche narrative in his very unique and humorous way of storytelling, packed with hilarious comedy and phenomenal action scenes. A splendid cast with Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo and Cate Blanchett at the top of their game pull off some fabulous displays, but it is Tessa Thompson and Waititi (!) that steal the show with their distinguished performances, plus a big green badass that has a lot of funny one-liners.