SPOILER REVIEW: 'Thor: Ragnarok' comes as advertised, but isn't without its flaws
We were promised a Thor makeover and boy did we get one.
"Thor: Ragnarok" accomplished exactly what it intended. Director Taika Waititi was tasked with making a bankable stopgap film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a pair of under-performers.
In Thor and Hulk, Waititi succeeded in polishing the MCU's biggest turds. Neither character has faired well in standalone films, critically or financially. Waititi has revitalized the characters into bankable stars, faithfully played by Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo.
By no means does that make "Ragnarok" a perfect film.
How do you make a god feel vulnerable? Can a god be relatable? That's been a major issue for Thor since day one. We've never really had to feel for him. Now we have a character struggling to hold it together. Taking away his hammer early on and then an eye later gave us some much-needed stakes.
Hulk is also much improved, but then again, he's been a non-factor. He's had a lot of the same issues as Thor. A giant, indestructible caveman isn't always easy to cheer for. We see a different side now that he's been opened up to speak more than a word or two.
The film also does a great job at introducing new characters while reincorporating some old favorites. Cate Blanchett and Tessa Thompson demand your attention on screen as Hella and Valkyrie and it was great to see Benedict Cumberbatch and Anthony Hopkins make brief appearances as Dr. Strange and Odin.
The film was littered with hidden gems and easter eggs, as expected. My favorite being the three-pronged wooden stick, a quick nod to Waititi's vampire mockumentary "What We Do In The Shadows."
Much has been made of the humor in "Ragnarok." Not all if it landed. At times the film almost felt like a parody of itself. Some gags ran too long or felt forced. I enjoyed the added levity but it was a bit much at times.
The gladiatorial match between Thor and Hulk was the center of the promotions for "Ragnarok" and it was a bit of a let down. I'll say the same for the teased scene of Hulk battling Surtur the fire demon. Womp womp.
While Ragnarok did a great job catering to studied MCU fans, it could have done better at filling in some gaps for everyone else. Your average moviegoer shouldn't need 15+ movies worth of factoids to understand the significance of a certain scene.
Ragnarok is a fun time. It can be frustrating at times as you rack your memory trying to summon up the name of glowing blue cubes but it's a welcome addition to the MCU.