Thor: Ragnarok is poised to be a (Hulk) smash.
The embargo on reviews lifted Oct. 19, and the Marvel movie is by and large earning raves from critics. In the third installment in the series, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is imprisoned on the planet Sakaar. Without his mighty hammer Mjolnir (or his long blond hair!), the crown prince of Asgard must save his home planet before Hela (Cate Blanchett), the goddess of death, can destroy it. But first, he must win a gladiatorial battle against a lost ally: The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
Directed by Taika Waititi and produced by Kevin Feige, Thor: Ragnarok stars Tadanobu Asano as Hogun, Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange, Idris Elba as Heimdall, Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Rachel House as Topaz, Zachary Levi as Fandral, Ray Stevenson as Volstagg, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Karl Urban as Skurge. The film is rated PG-13 for brief suggestive material and intense action scenes.
Thor: Ragnarok is in theaters Nov. 3.
Here’s what critics are saying about the movie:
- “With tongue firmly in cheek, this latest outing for the thunder god plays more to the giddy Guardians of the Galaxy crowd than to those who prefer their superheroes to be grim and gritty,” The Wrap’s Alonso Duralde writes, praising its balance of “stakes and silliness.” Fans “committed to the ongoing expansion of the Marvel screen universe will come away feeling respected for their devotion, while those who aren’t interested in the set-up for the next ten movies in the franchise can have fun and get on with their lives.” Hemsworth is a “daft performer,” whose combined humor and sexuality “make him the 21st century version of Marilyn Monroe or Jayne Mansfield.” His “comic rapport” with Hiddleston, Ruffalo and Thompson makes for a “screwball delight,” Duralde adds. Whether people see superhero movies for “glossy escapism or the pulse-pounding action, you’ll get your large soda’s worth.”
- “The plot technically revolves around Ragnarok—an apocalypse meant to signify the end of days in the mythical realm of Asgard—but it’s basically an excuse to have Thor interact with a parade of nutjobs to rival the scamps of Guardians of the Galaxy,” Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers writes. In fact, “the whole movie is a grab-bag of insanity so off-the-chain hilarious that you stick with it even when the convoluted plot goes haywire.” Hemsworth and Ruffalo’s characters in particular “are frenemies to die for,” and “the latter’s transformation from beast to Bruce Banner is a doozy.” Franchise newcomer Thompson is a “treat” as Valkyrie. “Granted, there are probably more monsters and CGI battles and explosions than the movie needs,” Travers writes. “But the movie keeps this Thor party hopping like it’s 1999 and Ragnarok will never come.”
- Infused with Waititi’s “signature goofiness,” Thor: Ragnarok is “by far the best of the solo films” starring Hemsworth “as the hammer-wielding warrior,” USA Today’s Brian Truitt writes. “It’s zany to a fault, though: The adventure leans hard into the campy Flash Gordon vibe and slapstick humor, so much so that when the third act save-the-world stuff comes, it doesn’t feel completely earned.” While it’s “fantastic” and “trippy” visuals are stunning, the “best surprise” is seeing “both sides of Hulk, the rage monster and the insecure genius, get more to do than in their prior two Avengers appearances.” And perhaps because of that, Truitt writes, “Even tonal issues can’t upend the magic this movie taps into putting Thor and Hulk together as new best buddies, whether they’re throwing down in an arena or having a bromantic heart-to-heart.”
- “Undoubtedly the best of the character’s three films, it’s more confident than the others, more kaleidoscopically colorful, and more eye-catching in its design. It has more coherent fight sequences and more impressive digital effects than its predecessors did. And while it takes its hero’s story to surprising new places, it has an endearing reverence for his comic-book roots: he keeps calling himself ‘The Mighty Thor,’ because that used to be the title of his monthly comic,” the BBC’s Nicholas Barber writes. “More importantly, this sequel, or threequel, establishes its blond leading man as somebody who’s fun to hang around with for two hours. Not for him the geopolitical debates or the personal angst of Iron Man and Captain America.”