Thor: Ragnarok is the holiday movie you've been waiting for 

Bringing the Thunder

click to enlarge Chris Hemsworth stars in this hilarious Marvel film

Walt Disney Pictures

Chris Hemsworth stars in this hilarious Marvel film

You'll be hard pressed to find a better time at the movies in 2017 than Thor: Ragnarok. You expect the grandiose visual effects and action, and the story that both stands alone and works within the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). What you don't expect is the humor. One-liners, physical comedy, and even some Avengers jabs make the movie hilarious from start to finish, and easily the most enjoyable MCU entry since the first Guardians of the Galaxy.

After the action-packed and hysterical opening sequence set to the tune of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song," Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) visit their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). The sons are warned that the prophecy of "Ragnarok" is imminent, which means the destruction of their home planet of Asgard. The destroyer is Odin's first born and the goddess of death Hela (Cate Blanchett), who is so powerful she smashes Thor's hammer with one hand.

After losing an initial battle with Hela, Thor and Loki find themselves on a planet full of junk. Thor is taken as a slave by fellow Asgardian Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), who left Asgard years ago. Meanwhile, Loki makes nice with the man who runs the planet, the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), and as we know Loki is never to be trusted. About an hour into the film the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) shows up; new friendships are not so easily formed, and total chaos reigns supreme in the most entertaining ways possible.

The film was directed by Taika Waititi, who last year made the superb New Zealand indie comedy Hunt For The Wilderpeople, and now he finds success working on a big Hollywood production. Many of the MCU films have had humor, but none have been the flat out comedy this is. Credit to Hemsworth, who's in just about every scene, for his impeccable comic timing, and to Waititi for taking what could've otherwise been a typical superhero movie and jolting it with a sense of pure joy.

The tone is set early. In the opening scene, Thor has a tough-talk conversation with fiery baddie Surtur (voice of Clancy Brown). Because Thor is wrapped in chains and dangling in mid-air he's slowly spinning in circles, and every time Surtur gets to his menacing message Thor tells him to "wait, hold on!" so he can finish spinning and face Surtur again to hear the rest. Then Thor miss-times calling for his hammer, which leads to another awkward moment.

click to enlarge Loki (Tom Hiddleston) finds himself on a planet full of junk, where he befriends the grandmaster (played by Jeff Goldblum) - WALT DISNEY PICTURES
  • Walt Disney Pictures
  • Loki (Tom Hiddleston) finds himself on a planet full of junk, where he befriends the grandmaster (played by Jeff Goldblum)

Thor: Ragnarok also has unexpected surprises, guest stars in a delightful cameo-filled scene early on, and plenty of visual dazzle. If anything, it may be too much — I saw it in IMAX 3D, and there were times when the visuals are overwhelming. A regular 3D screen, or even just a regular screen, would suit this movie just fine. But whatever you do, don't miss it!

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