Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok, the 17th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2008, is not only Marvel’s most outlandish superhero adventure to date, it’s the best. With the exception of the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, the MCU has largely been a formulaic, unambitious licence to print money, which thankfully gets a proper shake up here.

Helmed by New Zealand director Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Boy) Thor: Ragnarok is an interstellar adventure that sets a cracking pace from the get-go. The cookie-cutter plot is centered around an apocalyptic prophecy and the return of Thor’s sister Hela, the goddess of death (Cate Blanchett) who seeks to conquer Thor’s home planet of Asgard, and the God of Thunder’s efforts to recruit a team to stop her.

Playing loosely with 2006’s Planet Hulk comic storyline, these efforts are hampered by Thor being imprisoned on the planet Sakaar, where he is forced by that world’s ruler, the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), to participate in a deadly gladiatorial contest pitting him against his former ally and fellow Avenger.

There are cameos aplenty both credited and uncredited, with Waititi himself a standout as revolutionary/imposed rock gladiator Korg, delivering many of the film’s best lines. With much of the dialogue improvised on set, even Chris Hemsworth as the title character is given a number of opportunities to show his impeccable comedic timing.

And that really is what sets Thor: Ragnarok apart from the rest of the MCU universe. It offers hilarity, heart and the sort of escapism severely lacking in modern blockbusters.

Four stars