Chris Hemworth in THOR RAGNAROK

Director Taika Waititi breathes new life into the Thor franchise with THOR: RAGNAROK

It’s fair to say that 2017 has been a bumper year for Marvel Studios. With two huge hits already on their hands thanks to GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 and SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, the studio is rounding off the year with THOR: RAGNAROK, the third film in the Thor franchise.

THOR: RAGNAROK picks up the story after the events of AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) and DOCTOR STRANGE (2016). After returning home to Asgard to find his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) very much alive, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) sets off to try and find his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) but soon finds his freedom – and his hammer – mercilessly taken away from him when he’s left imprisoned on the distant planet of Sakaar. Fighting for survival, Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against his former ally The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), as well as a race against time to get back to Asgard prevent the all-powerful Hela (Cate Blanchett) from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.

Bold, brave and incredibly entertaining, THOR: RAGNAROK is everything you want a superhero film to be – plus so much more. Acclaimed New Zealand Director Taika Waititi breathes new life into the Thor franchise, maintaining the best elements of the first film while adding his own distinctive style. Playful direction, rapid-fire humour and hilarious one-liners sit alongside a genuinely gripping narrative and an all-star cast. More importantly, Waititi also never loses his focus on the characters, balancing the comedy, drama and action well, while unlocking Thor as a likable comic figure capable of personal growth.

Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, and Tessa Thompson in Thor Ragnarok (2017)

Leading man Chris Hemsworth shows off both his comedy and dramatic acting skills as leading man Thor, in his most entertaining outing as the mighty superhero. Mark Ruffalo also makes a long-anticipated return to the franchise as Bruce Banner/Hulk, with Hemsworth and Ruffalo brilliantly playing off each other.

Elsewhere, Tom Hiddleston returns as fan favourite Loki to cause his usual mischief and Jeff Goldblum delivers a wonderfully campy performance as the Grandmaster. Even the usually grave and serious Anthony Hopkins entertains, particularly in his scenes as Odin-as-played-by-Loki.

But it is the ladies who truly rule the screen in THOR: RAGNAROK. Cate Blanchett is wickedly evil as Marvel’s first female villain, stomping her way around Asgard with self-aware theatricality and a visually stunning costume. Tessa Thompson is equally excellent as fiercely independent Asgardian warrior, Valkyrie.

Yet as entertaining as THOR: RAGNAROK is, the film isn’t without its flaws Eric Pearson’s screenplay tends to slide into the all-too-familiar Marvel formula we have seen many times before and major characters are killed off and quickly forgotten. Those who liked the darker edge of the Thor movies will also find no solace in the film with Waititi completely embracing a cheeky-yet-carefree approach not really seen in the Thor franchise before.

That said, despite these shortcomings, THOR: RAGNAROK is easily the most entertaining Thor movie to date, sitting alongside GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and DEADPOOL for its deadpan humour. Don’t forget to stick around for the mid-credit and a post-credit teasers.

4 out of 5 stars

THOR: RAGNAROK is released in UK cinemas on 24 October 2017.