‘Thor: Ragnarok’ moves franchise in new direction

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“Thor: Ragnarok” is proof that at this point in its lifespan, Marvel Studios can really do no wrong.

“Ragnarok” is many things, both in the context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as well as just a film in general.

It brings all of the laughs and high-octane action that was presented in the trailer with very few surprises mixed throughout. The only surprise that can be derived from “Ragnarok” is its shocking departure from the series’ bland former formula.

Unlike “Thor” and subsequently “Thor: The Dark World,” two of the least-fondly remembered Marvel films, “Ragnarok” gives exactly what fans of the God of Thunder have wanted since they first saw Mjölnir appear at the end of “Iron Man 2.”

“Ragnarok” takes to new, stylishly designed locations that give the film a particular kind of visual spirit that echoes throughout the entire production.

Clearly inspired by the space adventure films of the 70s and 80s, “Ragnarok’s” visuals are soaked in the nostalgia of those decades, and the felicitous soundtrack ties it all together.

There is a distinct shift in style and tone from this film to the first two from the very beginning.

“Ragnarok’s” opening sequence barrages the audience with funny quips and silly yet intense action. The film seems to go out of its way to make itself unique not only among “Thor” films but among MCU films in general.

The film goes as far as cutting off the iconic luscious locks of the character, permanently destroying his hammer (both suggested by Chris Hemsworth to further separate this new Thor from the old one) and casting him away to a literal garbage planet just so the film can fit in the best “Hulk” movie to date as well.

Oh yeah. Meticulously woven throughout the best “Thor” movie ever made is the best “Hulk” movie ever made. After getting his hammer destroyed in a fight against the deliciously over-the-top Hella, played by Cate Blanchett, Thor finds himself stranded on a planet where all of the lost things of the universe end up.

One of those lost “things” was a giant, radioactive scientist.

The planet is run by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), who entertains the residents of the planet by finding “champions” to fight against one another gladiator-style.

As you can imagine, Hulk and Thor end up going toe-to-toe in the arena, and glorious superhero action ensues.

On the planet, the audience gets to see Hulk (not Bruce Banner) go through his own arch and you really begin to empathize with him as a separate character from Mark Ruffalo’s Banner.

As mentioned earlier, both the main villain Hella and Goldblum’s Grandmaster are some of the best executed Marvel antagonists to exist.

Blanchett hams it up, but never in a way that is cringe-worthy.

Her presence is dominating. This is result of both her incredibly high power-level as well as her strong personality while on-screen.

She’s intimidating yet playful in all of the right ways. This helps make Blanchett this villain a perfect match for this new Thor.

And what is there to say about Jeff Goldblum in this film?

It’s Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum at his most self-aware Jeff Goldblum.

If you love the quirks of the actor, you’ll love him here.

All in all, “Thor: Ragnarok” delivers exactly what fans of the first trailer expected of the film: an endless assault of jokes that land 99 percent of the time and some fun, crazy, stylized visuals to attract the eye.

If you were hyped for this film going in, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll have a blast.

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