The third phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has proven to be the best of the lot, a trend that continues with this third instalment of the Thor franchise. Given the overt seriousness and Shakespeare overtones of the previous entries, offbeat New Zealand director Taika Waititi is an unlikely choice but manages to completely revitalize a character that was in danger of growing stale. This is two hours of neon soaked lunacy unlike anything Marvel Studios has released yet. A fast paced, gleefully demented and genuinely hilarious outing that fully embraces the leftfield humour of its director.
It begins well, with Chris Hemsworth’s title character battling the giant fire demon Surtur in an action scene that unfolds almost sarcastically, establishing the film’s self-deprecating tone from the outset. The story itself is irrelevant amongst all the wild visuals – after his home world of Asgard is taken over by Cate Blanchett’s Goddess of death Hela, Thor finds himself imprisoned on a remote planet and forced to enter a fight to the death gladiator contest. It all flies by in brilliantly entertaining fashion but only becomes truly excellent the moment Thor wakes up on Sakaar, the dazzling fever dream of a planet lorded over by the legend himself Jeff Goldblum.
It’s there we meet the hard-drinking warrior Valkyrie, played with rugged charisma by the brilliant Tessa Thompson, and are reintroduced to the MCU MVP Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk. The cast are uniformly great, with each member having a turn stealing scenes, from Goldblum in peak Goldblum form to Tom Hiddleston returning as the sniping, manipulative Loki. Hemsworth too gives his best performance as the character, shining in the outright comedy vibes Waititi aims for. It lacks a strong emotional core, but Thor: Ragnarok is the synthecized, frenzied blast of hilarity we never knew we needed. One of the best movies Marvel has ever produced.