Chris Hemsworth returns in "Thor: Ragnarok" -- Marvel's most fun movie in years, and you don't even need to know all that much about the franchise to enjoy it.
It's getting hard to keep up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At this point, nearly a decade in (can you believe the first Iron Man Movie came out nine years ago?!), there have been 17 movies, a multitude of new superheroes, and an endless number of mediocre and mostly disposable villains. It'd take nearly two days to binge-watch all of them, and even then, you might need some hand-holding for some of the nerdier parts of the sequels.
If you've grown a bit tired of keeping up, and have decided to pick and choose which Marvel movies you want to pay money to see, we don't blame you. We'd also not blame you for assuming that, based on the first two movies about the hero, "Thor: Ragnarok" would be a great candidate for at least waiting for Netflix. Those movies were pretty mediocre, and somewhat humorless. But we are here to tell you that despite all the odds, "Thor: Ragnarok" is a must-see for any casual fan of these movies, or really anyone who enjoys fun.
Chris Hemsworth has always been pretty funny, as he proved as the lovable lunk in last year's "Ghostbusters" reboot. And finally, he's getting to show off those comedic talents in his most iconic role, as the Norse God of Thunder. His Thor has always been a little bit brash, sarcastic, and over-confident, and in director Taika Waititi's movie, those qualities are turned up a notch or 12. He has such good timing in silly gags and repartee, you almost forget how handsome he is -- almost.
Without spoiling too much, "Ragnarok" finds Asgard first secretly under the control of Thor's troublemaking brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and then falling under the destructive power of Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death. She reveals some deep dark secrets while destroying things for fun, Thor gets sidetracked in a mission to save his kingdom, and hilarity ensues.
Much of the movie is spent on a junk planet ruled by Jeff Goldblum, who is at his most charming and ridiculous. He’s so damn likable that you basically forget he’s a bad guy, holding Thor captive after the wayward hero lands on his planet. Luckily, Thor becomes roommates in space jail with the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo); less lucky is the fact that after three years of being stuck in his big green angry form, he doesn't even remember being Bruce Banner. It makes for both great combat and an excellent comedic sequence, as well as a fun caper later on.
Thor is initially caught and jailed by a sort of bounty hunter named Valkyrie, who is played here by Tessa Thompson. It's a sizable role but not a particularly interesting one, as she needs to be the angry and stoic one most of the time. Seeing her kick ass is pretty cool, though. It's even cooler when you realize the character is white in the comics, flipping the script on typical Hollywood white-washing.
There are so many running jokes, bit characters (including one played by Waititi) and funny action sequences that the audience is always entertained, and those scenes are all enhanced by the incredible kaleidoscope visuals of the various alien planets. We can't condone drugs, but suspect that seeing this movie while stoned would not be a bad time.
You really don't need to know much about the MCU going into this one. Thor has been away for a bunch of years — he didn't show up in "Captain America: Civil War" — but they acknowledge that. Loki's early shenanigans are a continuation of the last Thor movie, but you don't have to know that, either. Really just be aware that Hulk ran away after destroying lots of stuff in the last Avengers movie, and you're all set.
In Loki and now Hela, the Thor movies now have the two best villains in the MCU. Hiddleston is again excellent as the wily Loki, who you just never know if you can trust. And Blanchett absolutely hams it up as Hela, who is reminiscent of a classic evil Disney queen. It's great to see her go wild in the role, and it looks like the most fun she’s had in years. In much the same way, "Thor: Ragnarok" is the most fun a Marvel movie has been in years.