Marvel’s Thor returns with a newfound sense of purpose

Marvel Studios is the master of consistently delivering good movies, but they have had a hard time making good Thor movies. The first two are passable, but disappointing in comparison to much of the studio’s other output. The newest Thor movie, Thor: Ragnarok attempts to change this trend and mostly succeeds, delivering a movie that balances action, humor and character development.

Ragnarok sees Thor stuck in a gladiatorial contest and a race against time to stop Hela from destroying Asgard. While this plot is engaging and leads to some great character interactions and action set-pieces, it lacks surprises. Also, many of the dramatic moments in the story have a tendency to be undercut by comedy.

The returning cast is excellent. Chris Hemsworth once again is great as Thor. His comedic timing and self-deprecation is charming. Tom Hiddleston reprises his role Thor’s mischievous brother Loki and gives another charismatic performance. After a two year hiatus, Mark Ruffalo returns as the Hulk, explaining his whereabouts during The Avengers: Civil War. His camaraderie with Thor is a delight to watch and at times the film feels like a buddy cop duo.

Ragnarok introduces a lot of wonderful new characters, as well. The acclaimed New Zealander Taika Waititi directs the film and voices the character  Korg. He is a enormous rock monster with a quiet and calm voice. He is a hilarious addition. Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park) plays The Grandmaster. His quirky mannerisms and dialogue complement the movie’s lighthearted tone perfectly. Another new addition is Hela, the main antagonist. Played by Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings), her performance is incredibly over the top, but it’s meant to be.

Taika Waititi has spent his career directing quirky comedies to this point, but he rises to the occasion directing the many action sequences characteristic of Marvel. A gladiator battle between Thor and the Hulk is a notable standout.

In short, Ragnarok is a fun movie. A star-studded cast, witty humor, and captivating action situate this film firmly near the top of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.