Ragnarök. It may result in the end of all things in traditional Norse mythology, but one thing is for certain here - it's certainly not the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Quite the contrary, actually. While it is by no means a perfect film, director Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok is a welcome addition to Marvel Studio's ever-growing slate, and if this movie is a sign of the end of the world as we know it, then bring on the end of the world!
Before diving too deep into why Thor: Ragnarok works (for the most part), lets take a step back and figure out why 2011's Thor and 2013's Thor: The Dark World largely do not. In both previous installments, Thor spent way too much time acting like a fish out of water on Earth, surrounded by uninteresting side-characters that audiences didn't like. Viewers were unable to connect with the main character of these films, and they suffered critically because of it. The issues with Thor spill over into 2012's The Avengers too, and only start to disappear during 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok, however, changes the game dramatically. Gone are the days of the confused Shakespearean god, now making way for a far more relatable "God of Thunder." Whereas the two films prior asked the audience to connect with Thor through the human side-characters, Thor: Ragnarok bridges the gap between character and audience by making Thor far more human. And funnier; much funnier.
Speaking of humor, the sheer amount of it spread across the majority of films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has certainly garnered some criticism, but the shift in tone for the Thor franchise is something that was drastically needed. Not every single joke landed, and none stood out as being particularly hilarious, but at no point did the jokes feel overbearing or forced (I'm looking at you, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), and each character played off them well.
By far the standouts in the film were Chris Hemsworth's Thor, Jeff Goldblum's Grandmaster, and Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie. In fact, I'd be remiss if I didn't make it clear that I thought Thompson was the best part of the movie. Thompson clearly had a blast in the role, and it shows. Tom Hiddleston's Loki, Anthony Hopkin's Odin, Karl Urban's Skurge, Mark Ruffalo's Hulk, Idris Elba's Heimdall, and Taika Waititi's Korg, (who repeatedly stole the show as the film's funniest character) were all great too, although I couldn't help but feel that Odin could have had more to do in the movie. On the other end of the spectrum, however, is Cate Blanchett's Hela. While Blanchett's acting is top notch, her character comes off as terribly disappointing as she is given very little to do and doesn't feel like a primary antagonist. Remember what I said about Odin? That goes double for Hela.
Unfortunately this isn't a new issue plaguing the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as their villains have consistently been criticized for being the weakest parts of the movies. The other big criticism I have with Thor: Ragnarok is the poor CGI. Now, not all of the computer-generated shots were bad, in fact, most looked great. But when one did look bad, it was pretty noticeable . From various action shots that looked like they belonged in a video game to the repeatedly poor facial movements on CGI characters, it simply was not up to par with what Marvel has given us in the past. We know they can do better, and that's why it stands out so much.
When it comes down to it, though, Thor: Ragnarok should be praised for its accomplishments, not faulted for its flaws. The humor, music, cinematography, and tone are all wonderful, and that's a welcome change for the Thor franchise.
Bursting from the seams with colorful visuals and lighthearted humor, Thor: Ragnarok is a great addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. "I like it! Another!"