What a week for Marvel. First we get a new Black Panther trailer and poster and now the embargo has lifted on reviews for Thor: Ragnarok. Directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows), this is the third Thor film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and features the God of Thunder without his famous hammer and flowing golden locks.
Long story short, everyone pretty much loves it. Which is good news, because expectations were pretty much through the roof, already.
The promotional material has billed the film as a neon-colored, '80s extravaganza akin to Guardians of the Galaxy. Plus, there's Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner/Hulk, Jeff Goldblum's Grandmaster, and Cate Blanchett's Hela. With so much talent and classic comic book characters are stuffed into one movie, there's no way to lose, right?
How does the 17th entry in the MCU actually stack up? Here's what the critics have to say:
"Like the previous two Thor solo movies, this one is pretty much skippable, although it’s not without its pleasures — most notably, the fact that Thor’s not so solo this time around, with cameos/co-starring opportunities for the Hulk, Doctor Strange and a few leftover bits of Tony Stark’s wardrobe (including a retro Duran Duran T-shirt that’s good for a laugh)." -Peter Debruge, Variety
"It is most certainly still a Marvel movie. There are massive battles, world-ending stakes, and massive computer-generated creatures. They’re arguably some of the weakest parts of the movie, but not because Waititi can’t deliver on the spectacle. He does so incredibly well, injecting real visual flair into the proceedings as he toys with a budget and sense of scale he’s never had access to as a filmmaker. But when the film shifts gears into traditional Marvel mode, it prompts a twinge of regret, because no fight sequence can live up to the eccentricity that runs through the rest of the film." -Bryan Bishop, The Verge
"Waititi's interest in intimate stories was evident in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, but it's the knack for dry comedy that he brought to the mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows that shapes the new Thor. He sets the party-on tone in the movie's first, jokey moments. Soon, with a jolt of Led Zeppelin's 47-year-old "Immigrant Song" fitting the action like a custom-made gauntlet, he brings majestic spectacle down to rock 'n' roll showtime." -Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
“What neither Hemsworth nor his director can overcome, though, is Ragnarok’s meandering and narcoleptic story. It’s the sort of rote, paint-by-numbers slog (occasionally broken up by numbing, pro forma smashy-smashy smackdowns) that makes so many Marvel movies feel like Xeroxes of other Marvel movies. I get the why-mess-with-success impulse. Especially when there’s so much money to be made in movies like this. But even the most diehard comic-book fan has to be getting a bit exhausted by a narrative formula that’s become as thin and watered down as skim milk. The stars and directors are doing just fine; the writers (in this case Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost) need to aim higher.” -Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly
"Like a cosmic fever dream, Ragnarok is a disorientating cocktail of riotous colour and batty antics that seem almost unreal after the fact. Try to fit it into an established mould at your peril, but roll with this and you’ll discover not only a top-tier addition to the MCU, but one of the most flat-out enjoyable comedies of the year." -James Dyer, Empire
"The New Zealander director comes from the Flight of the Conchords-style school of comedy, and his own movies, like the both-excellent What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, have a distinctly dry, earnest Kiwi humor at their hearts. Whether in Thor's frequent one-liners, Jeff Goldblum's loopy Grandmaster, or absurd side characters like the soft-spoken warrior Korg (who's voiced by the director himself), that same humor is central to Thor: Ragnarok's identity." -Michael Rougeau, GameSpot
"There are a great many corners cut, plot holes papered over, and laws of physics bent out of recognition in this movie, to be honest. And if you’ve sat through the past dozen recent Marvel movies, you’ll find the core elements very familiar – a rag-tag team of heroes (Thor unimaginatively dubs them “the Revengers”), an all-powerful antagonist, an impending apocalypse, and a set of essentially unkillable characters. Added to which, the liberal use of CGI and green screen makes for a visual flimsiness. Even the scenes set in “Norway” look fake." -Steve Rose, The Guardian
"This is the most likable and interesting Thor has ever been. Hemsworth is given the chance to do what Hemsworth should have always been given the chance to do: be funny. But the script also makes sure that even the funniest one-liners Thor uses against Hulk or Loki are based on a development of their relationships that is often borderline painful when you realize what's actually being said." Brock Wilbur, Polygon
"Much of its charm lies in watching the characters bounce off each other, verbally and physically, when they could be making themselves useful. Childish is one word for it, and more of a compliment than it might at first sound – particularly as the film’s oddly beautiful scuffed-plastic aesthetic gives it the look of a 1980s action play-set come to life." -Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
"Thor: Ragnarok is as glib and cheeky as the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, and embraces a deliberately ‘80s space opera aesthetic and synth score (composed by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, providing the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most distinctive original music yet). This makes for a fun and often hilarious romp, and a film that looks as vibrant and out there as an old Jack Kirby Marvel comic. But it also encapsulates the MCU’s increasing desire to go for the gag, to mock its own innate absurdity, even at the expense of the characters and settings Marvel Studios has spent years now establishing." -Jim Vejvoda, IGN
"Thor: Ragnarok is funnier than all other Marvel movies to date and has a specific tone that might throw off some fans. That said, it’s not AS funny as it maybe needed to be to truly stand out as something totally different. I laughed a lot, I enjoyed myself greatly, but the plot was much more pedestrian than the rest of the movie might lead you to believe. But this is top to bottom Hemsworth’s movie, and in his fifth time playing Thor, is at his very peak, and that’s quite the heroic feat." -Kyle Anderson, The Nerdist
So do you think the latest Thor has enough spark to get your hard-earned cash on November 2 or is his third outing all thunder and no lighting?