‘Thor: Ragnarok’ will have you thunderously laughing out loud

Matt Withers, Arts Editor

“Thor: Ragnarok” is the 17th Marvel Studios production to come out since 2008. Ranging from mediocre to fantastic, Thor’s latest adventure may be the most fun movie to date.

If it wasn’t clear from the trailers, Thor is not your standard Marvel action movie with a little bit of comedy to take the edge off. It’s a comedy with a little bit of action thrown into the mix, and that’s where the movie shines.

The movie opens up with Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, trapped in a cage telling the tale of how he got captured to a skeleton next to him. In some films this may be a grim reminder that the hero is in danger, but “Thor: Ragnarok” uses it as an opportunity to set the tone for the comedic adventure it’s about to embark on. Nearly every joke had the audience laughing, which is rare, especially for a Marvel movie.

Thor’s father, Odin, is dead and now he and his brother Loki, played by Tom Hiddelston, must defend their home of Asgard from their sister Hela, the Goddess of Death played by Cate Blanchett. Before they get a chance to fight her, she breaks Thor’s hammer and transports them to the far-off world of Sakar. Thor is captured by the Grandmaster, portrayed by a wonderfully flamboyant Jeff Goldblum, and forced to fight in a gladiator style fight to the death against the Hulk, played by Mark Ruffalo. Together Thor and Hulk must find their way home and save Asgard from destruction.

While that plot may seem overcomplicated and packed full of too many characters, the film’s brisk pace makes it seem streamlined. Even when the plot is a little too silly, the chemistry between the characters keeps you invested in what is going on.

The film does end up dragging when we cut from Thor on Sakar to Hela taking over Asgard along with her lackey Scourge, portrayed by Karl Urban. In the finale of the film the comedy aspect takes a back seat and it starts feeling like a typical “Marvel” movie. It’s not bad by any means, and when there are jokes in this section of the film, they hit well. It almost feels like the movie is saying “OK, we’ve had our fun, but it’s time to be a Marvel movie now.”

The strongest aspect of the film is the interaction between the characters. Nearly every character is relatable, with the exception of Scourge, who probably could have been completely removed from the film and it wouldn’t have changed anything. It is a joy watching Thor play off his companion and former warrior of Asgard turned alcoholic, Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thomson.

Along with the fact that there is no romantic subplot, there is also some real character development for the entire cast. Hulk gets to feel wanted and appreciated for the first time, Loki gets to feel closer to Thor as a brother while keeping his trickster ways, and Grandmaster gets to be Jeff Goldblum.

Chris Hemsworth does a fantastic job as the film’s lead. He carries the bulk of the weight for the movie’s comedy, and does so with grace. This version of Thor is still very proud, but slowly learns to put his pride aside and step into his role as a leader of his rag-tag group of warriors.

Director Taika Waititi shows off how talented he really is at directing comedy as well as scenery. The hub of Sakar feels bright and colorful but still made from scrap. There are scenes on the coast of Scotland that are breathtaking to behold. Where Waititi really shines is the way he getting perfect comedic timing out of his performers.

“Thor: Ragnarok” is a joyride from start to finish. There may be a few bumps in the road near the end when you can feel the shadow of “Marvel Studios” executives looming over the third act, but the film knows where it’s strong suits are, comedy and heart. “Thor: Ragnarok” is a must see this fall, because your ticket comes with a guarantee of a smile along with it.