Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok ★★★★★

Taika Waititi's "Thor: Ragnarok" may well end up being the most entertaining film released in 2017. An exuberant, hilarious, heartfelt action epic, the film boasts the personality, character, and color needed to make it a piece of popcorn art that demands multiple viewings.

Thor, the Norse god of thunder-turned Avenger, finds himself on a heroic quest where he must team with his impudent brother to stop the prophesied destruction of his home. Assembling a squad of freedom fighters, Thor journeys to save the people of Asgard while attempting to vanquish his enemies.

While the narrative reads like a paint-by-numbers superhero film, "Thor: Ragnarok" distinguishes itself with heady themes. The quest moves its characters through processes of change and maturation where sons take their father's mantles, those fathers pass into history, and heroes discover truths in people not places.

Waititi presents all of this with a tone that leans toward comedy; and, while that tone takes some time to fully accept, Waititi skillfully layers the fills film's lightness and weight, resulting in delirious cinematic personality. The action film is bright and laugh-out-loud funny at times, but it never forgets the darkness of its violence or the heat of its heart.

Led by a charismatic Chris Hemsworth as Thor, the film is peopled by an excellent cast. Tess Thompson, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, and Waititi himself all turn in memorable performances.

The production is a colorful, big-budget gloss on the adventure epic of the 1980s. Sets and score reflect the cinematic culture of the late 20th century but serve the Marvel Cinematic Universe with aplomb.

The action is potent, the script clever, and the emotion is joyful in "Thor: Ragnarok." An electric and deliciously entertaining film that allows its director's voice to rise above the din of typical superhero fare, the third "Thor" chapter unfolds jubilantly and makes for a glorious experience.

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