Thor Ragnarok review round-up

After 17 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you’d think that superhero movies might start feeling a little stale. And while that might be applicable to some of the action beats in Thor: Ragnarok, the film as a whole is as fresh as it gets. This is a full-fledged comedy that also happens to be a vibrant, colorful, intergalactic eyeful that has a couple Avengers in it as lead characters.

But even though the film isn’t out yet, its comedy bona fides have been well-established in the trailers and marketing materials so far. So what do critics think about it? Check out our Thor Ragnarok review round-up to find out.

Brock Wilbur at Polygon wrote the most ecstatic review I’ve seen thus far:

Ragnarok is a doodle notebook full of teenage daydreams, a neon-infused fantasy of what superhero films could look like. There are gigantic monsters and beautiful women; zombie armies and a big spooky dog; an evil witch and Jeff Goldblum, but this isn’t just a wacky movie made for the sake of wackiness. Ragnarok is the child of confident filmmaking and understanding of what the Thor franchise could have always been.

It takes a character that could have always been more and makes good on that promise through competent storytelling and unbridled enthusiasm for the world. This is exactly how fans should be rewarded for their fandom. There has never been a clearer example of throwing the entire kitchen sink at a single title and having every single washer and lug-nut of that porcelain mechanism land in perfect order than Ragnarok.

Bryan Bishop at The Verge singles out Chris Hemsworth‘s performance:

But from the very first scenes, it is clear this isn’t a standard-issue Marvel flick. Chris Hemsworth opens up the comedic range of the character from the moment he appears on-screen. He really embraces the idea of Thor as a good-intentioned meathead, always trying to do the right things for the right reasons, but never quite as clever as he so clearly fancies himself. There’s always been humor in the Marvel films, and in Thor in particular, but this reimagined version of the character serves up a knowing nod and wink for practically the entire film’s running time. Thor: Ragnarok is like Deadpool, only charming and light, rather than R-rated and nihilistic. Yes, these characters can get a little silly at times, Waititi seems to be saying, but that doesn’t have to stop us from having a good time.

Ragnarok fight 1

HeroicHollywood‘s review highlights the character dynamics, and particularly the casting of Tessa Thompson and Jeff Goldblum as Valkyrie and the Grandmaster, respectively:

While there is explosive action throughout, the most enjoyable aspects of Ragnarok come from the character interactions. Loki and Thor may be siblings, but it’s a treat to watch Thor and Hulk bicker and compete like brothers. Tessa Thompson, who took the last train in from Westworld to film the movie, steals the show whenever she’s on screen. Valkerie [sic] simply oozes charisma as she goes about her business as a scavenger, drinking and hunting down challengers for the Grandmaster. Looking forward, it’s silly for Marvel to not integrate her into the fold as much as possible because of how enjoyable her screen presence is. Additionally, whoever at Marvel first thought Jeff Goldblum should be cast as the Grandmaster deserves a medal.

James Dyer at Empire seems taken aback at how far Marvel allowed Waititi to go, and he had nice things to say about the director’s motion-captured performance as a rock-creature named Korg:

Marvel’s most unorthodox hire to date, the director of What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople was never going to deliver a standard cape-and-tights yarn. But the extent to which he’s been allowed to push the longboat out — sailing right through the bay of humorous asides and deep into the straits of absurdity — is nothing short of extraordinary. For the first time in 17 (count them) movies, Marvel has delivered something that isn’t an action movie leavened with humour, but a full-bore comedy using blockbuster spectacle as a backdrop for gags.

Waititi sets out his irreverent stall from the get-go, bouncing from a laugh-heavy prologue — in which a dangling Thor continually interrupts demon Surtur’s (Clancy Brown) gloating monologue — into a gleefully silly showdown with Loki-as-Odin (Tom Hiddleston) that kickstarts the story proper. And the plot is in no way slight. Anchored in genocide, slavery and the literal end of days, this is as weighty an adventure as any the hammered one has undertaken. …

Ragnarok’s humour is as broad as it is eccentric, preserving Waititi’s sensibility while delivering consistent belly laughs at every turn. There are wank jokes, arse puns, vampire gags, pratfalls, in-jokes, snarky asides and buffoonery to suit every palate. The director himself is the comedy standout, though. As rock-hewn gladiator Korg, Waititi claims the champion’s share of killer lines, stealing every scene he’s in with softly spoken Kiwi commentary.

Ragnarok Korg

And while the humor is certainly at the forefront, Germain Lussier at io9 thought the film may have been almost too funny for its own good:

There’s only one problem with the film being so funny and such a spectacle, though: The laughter and grandeur overshadows almost everything else. Ragnarok is missing the emotional core that has elevated many other Marvel films. The jokes and set pieces come at you so often that there’s barely a moment for you to feel anything else. Luckily—and unlike so many other films that try the same thing—Thor: Ragnarok is so good it manages to work anyway.

Matt Singer at ScreenCrush echoes the sentiment that the movie has some problems, but the cast’s solid work makes up for those issues:

Thor: Ragnarok runs a long two hours and 15 minutes, and features more subplots and characters than it needs — and that’s before the obligatory (but narratively pointless) Marvel Cinematic Universe cameos. But the actors are all so good, and so are their performances, so it’s easy to go along for the ride, even if the movie is sometimes as sloppy as an Asgardian thunder god after too many pints of mead.

Scott Mendelson at Forbes gives a special shout-out to Cate Blanchett‘s vamped-up villainess Hela, and for what it’s worth, he wasn’t as bothered by the MCU references:

Blanchett is a blast and a half, even if her villain is a bit thin. I’d give your left arm for a scene where Hela and Tilda Swinton’s The Ancient One reenact the coffee shop scene from Heat. Taika Waititi directs with a sure and confident hand, and this feels very much at peace with What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. The MCU callbacks are organic and the picture takes delight in tossing off “Who cares?” answers to allegedly pressing worldbuilding questions.

The picture has a morbid sense of humor that avoids outright cruelty, and I liked the added layers offered to Odin courtesy of Hela. The closing battle scene is a fist-pumping winner, where every major character gets their big moments. It resolves in a genuinely unexpected fashion that sets up an interesting status quo while feeling at peace with Thor’s character arc. While onscreen events may indeed set up Infinity War, the priority is on telling a Thor-centric story. The MCU remembers to put the horse before the cart, unlike many that have followed in its footsteps.

thor ragnarok tv spot bruce

Robbie Collin at The Telegraph says this is “one of [Marvel’s] best films to date,” comparing to a 1980s toy set:

The film is baggy and daft by design, with bits hanging out all over the place, and vast tracts of it feel like half-remembered excerpts from a fun-but-weird blockbuster you dreamt about.

But much of its charm lies in watching the characters bounce off each other, verbally and physically, when they could be making themselves useful. Childish is one word for it, and more of a compliment than it might at first sound – particularly as the film’s oddly beautiful scuffed-plastic aesthetic gives it the look of a 1980s action play-set come to life.

And you know there had to be someone out there who didn’t fall for this film’s charms, and that person is Variety critic Peter Debruge, who says:

Like Thor’s two previous solo outings, this one is pretty much skippable, although it’s not without its pleasures — most notably, the fact that Thor’s not so solo this time around, with cameos/co-starring opportunities for the Hulk, Doctor Strange and a few leftover bits of Tony Stark’s wardrobe (including a retro Duran Duran T-shirt that’s good for a laugh). And while it’s not saying much, “Thor: Ragnarok” is easily the best of the three Thor movies — or maybe I just think so because its screenwriters and I finally seem to agree on one thing: The Thor movies are preposterous. …

Back in the day, audiences had to wait a few weeks for Mad magazine to skewer the latest self-important Hollywood blockbuster. These days, Marvel movies arrive as parodies of themselves. If only that were an indication of the genre’s own impending Ragnarok — a sign that the entire phenomenon is about to implode, only to be reborn as something more worthy of the audience’s time and intelligence.

But let’s wrap this up with some positivity, shall we? I’ll let Mike Ryan at Uproxx take us on out of here:

Thor: Ragnarok is by far the most unusual of the Marvel movies – a crazy, colorful, ambitious, hilarious ride through the cosmos – even surpassing the Guardians of the Galaxy movies as the former holder of that title. And it’s by far the funniest. It’s not even a question that Thor: Ragnarok is the best of the Thor movies and it’s certainly up there as far as the best in the MCU. Who knew a Thor movie could be this wonderful? I guess Taika Waititi did. And please let Taika Waititi make whatever other movies he wants from now on.

***

There’s a tendency to think that when directors step into a huge machine like Marvel, they may lose some of their voice in the process. It’s happened before, it’ll happen again. But like Shane Black’s Iron Man 3, James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy films, and Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, Thor: Ragnarok clearly retains the tone and vision of its director. This is a Taika Waititi movie through and through, and those who have delighted in his previous comedies will certainly find a lot to love about this one as well.

Thor: Ragnarok opens on November 3, 2017.

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

About the Author