Cinematic Releases: Hammer of the God - Thor:Ragnarok (2017) Reviewed

Marvel finally breaks from their formulaic mold to deliver a more bright and adventurous tale that pushes the Thor character to new heights. When he's pitted against the evil Hela, deliciously played by Cate Blanchett, his entire world spins out of control, turning out one of the better Marvel Studios releases that gives Thor a brand new haircut, a harder attitude, and room to shine as a leading player in their cinematic universe. While many might brand this as just another one of those 'comic book movies', this one is a bit different. It's bigger. It's badder. And Chris Hemsworth owns it. 

Taika Waititi's eccentric markers are all over Ragnarok as we get way more character development, less tedious humor, and a synth score that's like nothing they've tried before. While you can feel the suits tugging at the reins a bit, Waititi's specific style is definitely noted in storytelling and the way this one flows. When the plot begins to develop, we're suddenly given the most time we've had with this newer version of Hulk, which is definitely one of the better parts of the movie. The banter between Thor and Hulk is perfectly written, leaving us feeling like their friendship is maturing. Adding in the hyper snarky Jeff Goldblum for good measure, Ragnarok becomes an offbeat Marvel flick that doesn't revel in repetition. Instead, this is a hard reset that takes this franchise in new directions. 

Karl Urban is supremely bored with a role that repeats the same character he played in The Chronicles of Riddick. Tessa Thompson adds her beautiful smile and dynamic presence as Valkyrie. And Anthony Hopkins returns to play the ancient Odin with his typical class. While they all do their damnedest to shine, it's really Hulk that steals the spotlight. 

Have you ever seen my brother act? Yes, me too. 

Unlike the less desirable The Dark World, the son of Odin spends nearly no time on Earth as a bevy of new enemies and aliens fill the third entry like a platter loaded with new sights and sounds. Armed to the teeth with a throwback science fiction tone that relies heavily on serials from the early years of cinema, Thor:Ragnarok is actually fun, but still has emotional weight to it. Bad things definitely happen here. Characters are lost. Actions come with consequences. And things get extremely heavy at times. But there is a strong balance. Luckily for us, the mighty Thor finally comes into his own in a movie that's designed to nearly rewrite what we've seen from him before. 

Ragnarok definitely borrows some colorful cues from Guardians of the Galaxy as the solo Avenger finds himself on an otherworldly journey that gives us many shades of Flash Gordon and Star Trek. Some of the costume design is a direct callback to the 1980 Gordon sci-fi adventure. The planetary expansion is a straight riff on Trek. And so are the multitudes of new creatures, planets, and the use of teamwork to subdue the enemy. While I've not been too thrilled with many of the choices Marvel has made over the past couple years, this is a strong effort that finally allows a creative person to take chances with a multi-million dollar project. 

Watching this movie, you'll see comparisons and will know exactly where the GOTG influences came in at. Yet, for some reason, it doesn't seem heavy handed or too over zealous. There's a reason those movies have been so successful. Using some of that same tonality from Guardians actually plays perfectly with the story at hand. Is this the perfect Thor movie? No. Probably not. But for once it looks like a director has sidelined corporate control to do a more artistic feature that actually FEELS LIKE A COMIC BOOK. 

Oh yeah, Idris Elba is a bad ass.