Thor has always been a bit of an odd man out in the Avengers crew. He’s the only one not from Earth, his extended family causes a whole lot of the problems and he’s got the best hair.
Thor is gamely played by Chris Hemsworth and certainly holds his own when the crew comes together, but his standalone movies have been a little all over the place.
I actually liked the first “Thor” a lot, as director Kenneth Branagh played up the family melodrama to Shakespearian proportions. “Thor: The Dark World” wasn’t really bad as much as it was completely forgettable.
Now, we come to “Thor: Ragnarok,” where the God of Thunder has gone from an uptight and spoiled pretty boy to a laid-back, slightly-humbled pretty boy who still gets by on his charm as much as he does his mighty hammer.
He also gets to lay claim to one of the most fun Marvel movies to come along, which is saying a lot, because most of them are a hoot.
“Thor: Ragnarok” is a little different in that it feels like one of those parties from high school or college where all the cool kids show up and, at first, you are worried you are out of place, but then you realize not only do you fit right in, but it’s not long before everyone’s chanting your name while you are doing a keg stand.
OK, so that might be a little specific to my own personal college experience, but I’m going to roll with it.
New Zealand director Taika Waititi (whose work includes “Flight of the Conchords” and the brilliant and hilarious vampire mockumentary “What We Do in the Shadows”) goes right to the heart of all that is thrilling and comically absurd about a Norse god bouncing around the galaxy and having adventures in strange and wondrous alien lands.
Part “Flash Gordon,” part “Guardians of the Galaxy” and part Duran Duran video, “Thor: Ragnarok” is basically a blast.
After Hela, Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett having so much fun I’m not sure she didn’t return her paycheck to Disney) lays waste to Thor’s home of Asgard, Thor finds himself lost and imprisoned as a gladiator on a planet of lost souls. The planet is ruled by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum proudly and freely letting his freak flag fly), who pits these interplanetary warriors against each other for the enjoyment of his people.
Thor’s spirits are lifted when he finds himself in the arena with his old pal the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), whose personality has become a little more nuanced and whose vocabulary has exploded into the double digits since last we saw him.
Thor and Hulk assemble a team to take on Hela that includes exiled Asgardian Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Thor’s adoptive brother and constant troublemaker/opportunist Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
Everything in “Ragnarok” is funny, stylish, and cool from the techno score from Devo alum Mark Mothersbaugh to Thor’s new haircut.
While the movie finds Thor finally coming into his own as a hero, this final and best entry into the “Thor” trilogy finally finds the right tone and adventure for everyone’s favorite God of Thunder. Better late than never.
“Thor: Ragnarok” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material.