THOR: RAGNAROK – A Review by John Strange

Thor: Ragnarok..Hela (Cate Blanchett)..Photo: Jasin Boland..©Marvel Studios 2017
THOR: RAGNAROK – A Review by John Strange
In the last several years we have been entertained by a wide variety of comic book heroes.  From one "universe" to another, the stories have evolved from the often poorly written attempts in the past decades to give us harder edged stories with more "human" heroes and villains.  From the first vision of the God of Thunder, in Thor, the son of Odin has grown as a man and, perhaps because of his time on Midgard (Earth) amongst humans he has matured and grown more like us than the god who dropped to our planet in that film.
Now, six years and five films (six if you count the cameo in Doctor Strange) in, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) comes to us full of humor but still dedicated to protecting his home and the Asgardian throne.  In fact, his opening speech shows us just how far he has come since that first film.  As expected, Thor defeats his opponent and gives us the first piece of the puzzle that is Thor: Ragnarok.
Returning to Asgard following the defeat of the fire demon Surtur, whose final words foretell of his part in Ragnarok (the destruction of Asgard), the God of Thunder comes upon his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) watching a play about the death of Loki (Tom Hiddleston).  (Note: Take a good look at the actors in the play, there are some faces you may recognize.  One of those faces will look familiar as he is the older brother of Chris and Liam Hemsworth.)
But is it Odin?  Thor uses his hammer, Mjolnir, to discover the truth.  Loki, now revealed, is forced to tell his adopted brother where their father, Odin, is being held.  The two travel to Earth to spring him from the institution that has been his home for the last couple of years.  Arriving at the location they find a building nearly removed from existence, not by villains but by a demolition company.
Here would be a great place to for a plot twist.  The screenwriters don't disappoint us.  Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a bit upset that Loki is back on Earth.  He calls upon Thor to explain what they are doing and, most importantly, how soon they are leaving.  (Reminder: that cameo at the end of his film, Doctor Strange.)
Dr. Stephen Strange (I just love this guy for some reason that escapes me!), sends the brothers to Odin.  As the old god talks to his sons, he reveals a secret that he never planned to reveal to them.  They have an older sister, his first child, created to be his enforcer, the goddess, Hela (Cate Blanchett), who eventually became so powerful and he had to lock her away to protect the realms.
Hela, whose powers are greater than Thor and Loki's combined, is released by Odin's death.  Her first actions include the destruction of Thor's beloved hammer.  The threat to the realms is now all too apparent to both our hero and his brother.  They run for home. a very wise move except that this also gives her a direct path back to what is her home, too.
As the pair travel the rainbow path, their sister causes both to be ejected from the beam where they end up in the realm of the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum).  Thor is captured by a bounty hunter and sold to the Grandmaster for use in his gladiatorial games.
This section of the film is played with more humor than I thought was called for.  Jeff Goldblum's Grandmaster is typical of all similar characters he has played in the past, full of jokes and self-deprecating humor.  I would have liked this more if it had been toned down a bit (okay, a lot).
The good part is that Thor is able to recruit a team to work with him as he takes on Hela.  They are not your usual cast of characters but then teams in these films never are.  This one finds their task, to use a term derived from another set of gods, herculean.
The film has many ups and downs.  Heimdall's (Idris Elba) defense of the citizens of Asgard is definitely heroic.  Skurge's (Karl Urban) role in this story is one of self serving and self preservation but also of self growth.  The Grandmaster is definitely the low point but I can forgive the writers thanks to their well thought out resolution to that subplot.
From the chaos that is any film about the forces of right taking on unbeatable foes, we are given a film that rises well above its foibles and grants us a vision of what our heroes are truly made of.  We have been given a film worth watching time and again.  It is as strong as any other made to date in the MCU, the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  One I was temporarily afraid I would have to brand with a low mark but am happy to be able to bestow an A+ rating upon. 
As with many of these films, whether you see it in 2D or 3D (I saw it in 2D), you will be drawn into their universe. How you come out depends upon your character (and taste in action films).  For me, I came out smiling.  Excellent story, well-scripted action sequences, and an ending I could accept as a reasonable conclusion to the cinematic journey of the hero and his people gave me a film I plan to watch again. Soon.
Directed by: Taika Waititi
Cast: Idris Elba, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Taika Waititi, Clancy Brown, Ray Stevenson, Jeff Goldblum
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sci-fi action and violence)
Selig Rating: A+
Runtime: 130 Min.
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
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