Film Review: Thor: Ragnarok (USA, 2017) may be the best entry into the MCU yet

Thor: Ragnarok hits Australian cinemas tomorrow, and by now you’ve heard that this Marvel series’ third instalment lives up to expectations. Helmed by the great Kiwi director Taika Waititi, who assembled a cast of returning favourites and a few excellent additions from his own repertoire, Thor: Ragnarok takes the Marvel Cinematic Universe to new heights, delivering what may be the most entertaining, funny and well balanced entry yet. So you can tell this review isn’t going to differ much from what you’ve heard already. But I do want to delve into a few key reasons why this film succeeds above some stiff competition.

1. The Supporting Cast

Taking inspiration from other sci-fi films, Thor: Ragnarok didn’t underestimate the value of its extended cast. Fans of Taika’s films will have seen a few familiar faces in amongst this group, including the great Rachel House, who had us in sitches as Paula in Taika’s brilliant Hunt for the Wilderpeople. The scenes she plays alongside Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster are some of the best in the film. As are the ones with Taika himself, playing Korg, who steals every scene he’s in. Look out for some superb cameos as well, and Cate Blanchett is terrifically devilish in her role. Look out for a Best Oscar win for costumes too, for her outfit alone!

2. The perfect balance…

While the darkness of the DC comics universe has been their staple – and their Achilles Heel – Marvel have, for the most part, filled their films with a healthy dose of humour. From the deadpan sarcasm of Downey Jr’s Iron Man, through to the “I don’t take anything seriously” Starlord in Guardians. But few have been as funny nor as aesthetically colourful as this entry, which perfectly balances its humour with the drama – ensuring the film never gets too “silly”, but doesn’t get too serious, either. This is, after all, a ridiculous movie universe – and it doesn’t ever forget it (nor apologise for it).

3. Jeff. Fucking. Goldblum.

Rarely has a role been better cast than that of the Grandmaster. Jeff Goldblum is the character the MCU had been waiting for and we needn’t say more.

4. It’s the “Buddy movie” the franchise needed

Sure Spider-Man had Iron Man’s help, and Captain America has had Black Widow, but we haven’t seen two of the Avengers really get themselves a buddy movie, until now. And honestly the MCU needed it. Character-wise,¬†Civil War¬†and the impending Avengers: Infinity War are all a bit much. Fun. But there’s a lot to take in. And not enough time to dig in deep to characters. Here, they are able to gift two of Marvel’s most iconic characters with the focus they deserve. Of course this is a movie about Thor, but it becomes a film about the Hulk, too. And I don’t think we’ve seen a better version of Hulk than we do here, either. Mark Ruffalo is brilliant.

5. It improves on its predecessor

I think it’s important to remember that the last entry in the Thor series was – while entertaining – one of the lower points of the franchise. It’s been a trend for sequels to suffer where the original succeeded – only before nailing it again with the third one. Iron Man and Captain America being of course the other examples here – though Civil War was, admittedly, a bit much at times. And hopefully this means that the third Avengers film will follow suit – because let’s face it, Age of Ultron was not great. Phase three has been quality across the board though – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 seemingly breaking the curse of the second entry into the series… but I digress!

6. It’s so pretty!

And finally, we have the cinematography and special effects. The production value on this film is extraordinary. There are some shots in this film that could be mistaken for pieces of art. Some of those slow motion battle sequences are just so beautifully rendered, to a level of quality I haven’t seen matched in another Marvel film to date. If you ever tune out during the battle sequences, in Ragnarok you won’t be able to look away.

All in all, Thor: Ragnarok hits all the points you want from a super hero movie, and knocks them out of the park. It’s well-paced, funny, a wild ride and as far as sci-fi / comic book action blockbusters go, you’ll struggle to find a better film than this one. Believe the hype – and let’s hope Marvel bring Taika back for more.

Review Score: FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Thor: Ragnarok hits cinemas this Thursday, October 26th.