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(Spoiler-free) Review: Thor: Ragnarok

What exactly is Ragnarok? I’m not quite sure and I don’t really care. What I do know is this: Thor: Ragnarok is a very funny superhero action-adventure sci-fi fantasy movie that zips to the top of my list of ‘guilty pleasure’ popcorn movies for 2017. Is it ‘THE BEST MARVEL MOVIE EVER!’ as some have proclaimed? No. But it is one of the most entertaining, as long as you’re familiar – to some degree – with the Marvel universe (i.e. the Avengers, Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Doctor Strange, etc.) and have a solid appreciation for the tongue-in-cheek tone of a Deadpool or Guardians of the Galaxy. The more Marvel movies you’ve seen, the more you’ll get out of Ragnarok. It’s packed with hidden gems, celebrity cameos, sly innuendos, inside jokes and character development that builds off relationships established in earlier films featuring the various Avengers working solo or as a team. No spoilers. Just the gist:

Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the hunky God of Thunder, finds himself imprisoned on the other side of the universe – without his mighty hammer. He has to figure out a way to get back to his homeland, Asgard, before his powerful and ruthless relation, Hela (Cate Blanchett), can carry out an evil plot to destroy the land and its people. First, however, Thor is forced to fight gladiator-style against an old friend who doesn’t seem to remember he’s an old friend – The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and he needs to build a team to join him on his mission to save Asgard. That team includes his less-than-trustworthy brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and an alcoholic Valkyrie warrior (Tessa Thompson) haunted by a past encounter with Hela.

The supporting cast also includes Jeff Goldblum as a quirky gamesmaster with a Hunger Games-like disposition; Anthony Hopkins as Thor and Loki’s father Odin, King of Asgard; Karl Urban as Skurge, an axe-wielding mercenary type; Idris Elba as Heimdall, the all-seeing and all-hearing guardian sentry of Asgard; and Taika Waititi as Korg, a big guy made of rocks. Waititi also happens to be the director of Thor: Ragnarok so he scores on two fronts. His character is hysterical, and the movie is pretty awesome. Waititi also happened to direct one of my favorite films from 2016, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and a couple of stars from that little indie pop up in this crowd-pleasing blockbuster.

And of course… this is a Marvel movie. So you stay through the credits for a bonus scene to set up what’s ahead for Thor and the gang. I saw Thor: Ragnarok in IMAX 3D. But any big screen will do. It’s the dialogue and character interactions that sell this flick. Not the special effects.

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