Updated: Jan 6, 2020
In Norse mythology Ragnarok is about the destruction of Asgard, fiery demon trolls, the death of Thor while fighting the World Serpent, and the world turning to ash to be born again. In the MCU, Ragnarok is about 130 minutes. If you've been waiting for a real deal "comic book movie", you won't do much better than this. Giant green rage monster rampaging across the Bifrost? Check. Skurge the Executioner dual-wielding M-16s? Double check. Planet Hulk? Check, please!
The third installment of the Mightiest Avenger's franchise skips out on Midgard for the most part, focusing instead on the other realms of the cosmos - the titular hero finds himself lost in space and trying to race back home before Asgard is destroyed by ancient, prophesied evil. But just like any good comic book, it's always more fun when there's a team-up, and everyone's favorite God of Thunder can't do it alone. If he's going to save his home, he's going to need help. And help comes in the most unlikely of forms - namely Loki, the Incredible Hulk, and hard drinking bounty hunter Valkyrie.
Much like Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, Ragnarok leans heavily on comedy. And why shouldn't they? When your movies are about cybernetic raccoons and gamma irradiated scientists, a certain levity to expected. The mistletoe to Marvel's Balder (it's a Norse mythology reference- look, I'm trying) is that too often the humor undercuts the emotional scenes. Unlike Guardians 2, however, most of the humor lands. This is largely in part to the comedic chops of the cast, but credit must go to Taika Waititi (pulling double duty as director and scene stealing newcomer Korg), already an icon in my mind. Before landing at Marvel, Waititi directed the cult classic "What We Do in the Shadows", as well as the criminally underrated "Hunt for the Wilderpeople" and is now the first person of color to direct a Marvel film.
Waititi lets the returning cast members revel in their roles, Anthony Hopkins as Odin especially seems to enjoy himself for the first time in the franchise. Cate Blanchett seems to truly enjoy her role as Hela, essentially playing up her version of turbo Galadriel from the Fellowship of the Rings, and Jeff Goldblum is at his Goldblumiest, sashaying around the junk planet of Sakaar in decorative sandals and bright blue nail polish.
To say this is the Thor movie that we've been waiting for is an understatement, both cast and characters are at their best when unrestrained and the third time seems to be the charm. Writers Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost deserve extra credit for trying to keep on track a plot that is at times essentially an extended Rick and Morty episode. Ragnarok stands on its own, which is a feat in and of itself, as its only job was to be the delightful ball tickling leading to the ten-year-in-the-making nerdgasm that is Avengers: Infinity War. So, brace yourself, Ragnarok is the source of the jokes you'll be hearing loudly repeated in every Gamestop in America for the next six months, but it deserves more than that. Ragnarok is more than a good entry into the Thor franchise, it's a good comic book movie overall.