Image Credit: Artwork by Marwa Hamad

Thank the Earth, the Heavens and all of Asgard: Marvel is finally taking Thor seriously. It was about time.

Outshining the franchise’s first two (fun, forgettable) films, Thor: Ragnarok — in all its high-octane, adrenalin-pumping glory — is the cantankerous, ambitious and thunderously witty film that fans have been waiting for. At the risk of being divisive: it might even be Marvel’s best yet.

All arrows point to director Taika Waititi, an underutilised genius of the industry who, given the largest playing field of his career and told to run, damn near sprinted.

Waititi, a New Zealander popular for indie films like Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, has shown the true extent of his vision here, ushering in a new era of Thor. The 42-year-old churns out sprawling landscapes, exquisite visuals and perfectly timed cameos like candy. Above all, he infuses his wry humour into every frame of Ragnarok without sacrificing the film’s integrity nor veering into silliness — a pitfall that, sadly, befell Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 earlier this year.


The story picks up two years after the Battle of Sokovia. A loyal protector of Asgard, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must stop the end of the world — i.e. Ragnarok itself — and go up against a ruinous adversary, Hela (Cate Blanchett).

But first, he has the unfortunate luck to be kidnapped by drunken bounty hunter Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson; Thompson embodies everything we want in a conflicted female character — ferocity, flaws and a swagger that gives Thor a run for his money.

She throws our hero to the wolves, where he meets his captor: the flamboyantly wicked Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), who seems like your weird, fun uncle until you remember he owns a melting stick that can literally turn prisoners into goo.

Caged in this Hunger Games-style arena, Thor runs into younger brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and a friendly neighbourhood captive, Korg (voiced, hilariously, by Waititi himself). This ragtag team of ‘Revengers’ has to hatch an escape plan, while Heimdall (Idris Elba) works overtime in the background to keep Asgard from falling apart.


Despite all these big personalities stuffed into a two-hour film, Thor: Ragnarok is an airtight affair that skilfully plays to each actor’s strength.

Hemsworth, all 6’3 of him, excels at puffing out his substantial chest, cracking a smile and convincing you that the planet will be safe in his capable hands. (He’s also great at being shirtless and exuding a childlike naivety that makes his cockiness more bearable.)

Elba, with his amber eyes and shoulder-length dreads, provides discreet support as the film’s more measured, less celebrated hero. Ruffalo, with his noticeably smaller stature, is meanwhile gripped with paranoia over who Thor prefers, Hulk or Banner, resulting in emotional revelations and some obligatory mudslinging.

Hiddleston’s Loki is particularly fantastic as the textbook younger brother: jealous, conniving and begrudgingly in need of validation. He has more screen-time in Ragnarok than in previous films, which means more brotherly banter, which means more greatness overall.

Finally, Blanchett as Hela will win over fans with her impeccable performance, despite the pure evil radiating off her. She’s a worthy villain, slithering around screen like a reptile on legs.

The film is blissfully free of any lazy romantic subplots (was anyone actually invested in Thor/Jane?), but unresolved tensions between characters are a welcome addition. In the meantime, some seriously cool battle scenes feature from start to finish, and the use of Led Zeppelin’s militant Immigrant Song will have even the most unenthused of audience members rooting for the God of Thunder and his motley crew of unlikely heroes.


Don’t miss it

Thor: Ragnarok releases in the UAE on November 2.