‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Hammers Out a Winner with Humor and Action

Chris Hemsworth in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’

Anthony Hopkins as “Odin” in Thor: Ragnarok:  “Asgard is not a place, it’s a people.  And its people need your help.”

Thor: Ragnarok is set after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron and finds “Thor” (Chris Hemsworth – Red Dawn) being held captive by “Surtur” (voiced by Clancy Brown, best known as the voice of “Mr. Krabs” in the “SpongeBob SquarePants” universe).  Surtur plans to journey to Asgaard and cause Ragnarok to occur by uniting the crown he wears with the Eternal Flame locked away there.  Ragnarok is the utter destruction of Asgaard.  But Thor manages to escape and return home to Asgaard.

There, after a humorous interlude, he learns that “Loki” (Tom Hiddleston – Kong: Skull Island) has tricked “Odin” (Anthony Hopkins – Hitchcock) into leaving Asgaard for Earth.  Thor and Loki journey to Earth where they are guided to Odin by yet another Marvel Cinematic Universe hero.  They find Odin ready to pass on to the next plane of existence and that will enable his first-born child to achieve freedom from where he had imprisoned her.  “Hela” (Cate Blanchett – The Monuments Men) is the Goddess of Death and she is incredibly powerful.  Powerful enough to stop Thor’s mighty hammer.  Powerful enough to force Thor and Loki to attempt to retreat and regroup, except that she forces them off of the BiFrost bridge.

Thor awakens to find himself in Sakaar, a world used as a garbage dump with the trash falling to the planet through countless wormholes.  He is captured by “Scrapper 142” (Tessa Thompson – Creed) who sells him to the “Grandmaster” (Jeff Goldblum – Grand Budapest Hotel).  Sakaar is a sci-fi-fantasy version of the Eagles’ brilliant “Hotel California” where you arrive but never leave.  Unless of course you can defeat the Grandmaster’s champion in a gladiator-like battle to the death.  A heavily armed but sans-hammer Thor strides into the arena to find he is matched up against “The Incredible Hulk” (Mark Ruffalo – Begin Again).  Loki is also present on Sakaar.  Turns out that Scrapper 142 is actually one of the legendary Valkryie of Asgaard and she helps Thor and Hulk return to confront Hela.

Tom Hiddleston and Tessa Thompson in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’

Hela has coopted “Skurge” (Karl Urban – Dredd) to be her executioner.  She wants to use the BiFrost to expand her reign into all of the realms but “Heimdall” (Idris Elba – Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom) steals the sword that controls the bridge’s access to those other worlds.  She sends Skurge and the warriors she has reincarnated in search of the sword.  Ultimately there will be a final confrontation and Thor and his allies must find a way to save the people of Aasgard.

Director Taika Waititi’s first big-budget film is a success because he does more than just sprinkle some laughs in here and there.  Funny moments abound, and they work well to enhance the usual stellar special effects and action found in any Marvel Cinematic Universe movie.  The screenplay is solid and the actors make both humor and drama mix successfully.  Loki is a deliciously evil character and Tom HIddleston plays him to maximum effect.  Don’t miss the Easter Eggs (yes, plural) in the post-film credits.

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