I had my concerns about this film prior to its release. Its lighter tone made me worried the “Norse mythological apocalypse” part would be kind of lost. I’m not often one to criticize Marvel Studios films for having too many jokes, but there have been times when this reliance on humor undermined the creativity and weight of some of them. Such was my concern for this film, but this time, the lighter take on the character paid off. “Ragnarok” is not Marvel’s best, but it’s up there. It is very funny, but it’s not a total comedy like critics are saying. There are plenty of jokes, and most of them work very well, but there’s also plenty of action and even some good character moments. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is stranded and enslaved on a barbaric planet called Sakaar, where gladiator matches seem to be the premier form of entertainment. He reunites with the not-so-jolly green giant Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who has been stuck in his angry form since launching himself into space in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” The Asgardian apocalypse, Ragnarok, is on its way to Thor’s homeworld, and in order to stop it, he must fight his way through the gladiator tournament and find a way off the planet, back to Asgard. Some of the more grounded moments feel a little bit undercooked, especially the interactions between Hela (Cate Blanchett) and Thor in the third act. The drama of the climax is kind of lost because the battle leading up to it doesn’t properly set the tone. But the Sakaar portions are pitch-perfect. The action sequences are intense and fun. The Thor vs. Hulk fight has been worth the wait. Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie—a heavy-drinking rogue warrior, who brings Thor to the gladiator tournament—is a positive addition. Visually, the movie looked better than I anticipated; the colors and contrast popped more than in the trailers. There were some bad editing jumps, but these are minor issues in a film this fast-moving and energetic. “Ragnarok” doesn’t really break the sci-fi/action mold, but it does it a lot better than most. Despite my best efforts to want something else, “Ragnarok” absolutely won me over.
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