Brow Beat

Here’s What Critics Are Saying About Thor: Ragnarok

Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Ragnarok.

Disney/Marvel Studios

Thor: Ragnarok, the third movie about the Norse superhero with the magic hammer, sees Taika Waititi take over directing duties from Kenneth Branagh. According to the first wave of reviews, the New Zealand filmmaker, who is best known for Boy and What We Do in the Shadows, has managed to breathe new life into the franchise—and it’s funny! Critics praised the director for injecting the usual Marvel fare with a sense of humor, embracing the wackiness of the plot, and bringing out the cast’s underused comedic chops, especially Hemsworth’s.

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Here’s what else critics had to say about the new film:

It offers some pretty standard superhero fare …

Steve Rose, The Guardian:

And if you’ve sat through the past dozen recent Marvel movies, you’ll find the core elements very familiar—a rag-tag team of heroes (Thor unimaginatively dubs them “the Revengers”), an all-powerful antagonist, an impending apocalypse, and a set of essentially un-killable characters.

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Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly:

It’s the sort of rote, paint-by-numbers slog (occasionally broken up by numbing, pro forma smashy-smashy smackdowns) that makes so many Marvel movies feel like Xeroxes of other Marvel movies. […] Even the most diehard comic-book fan has to be getting a bit exhausted by a narrative formula that’s become as thin and watered down as skim milk.

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… but the movie is at least meta about it.

Peter Debruge, Variety:

Rather than taking any of what happens seriously, co-writers Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher L. Yost seem to have anticipated the film’s own “Mystery Science Theater 3000” track, incorporating self-aware punchlines throughout. The script pokes fun at the movie’s plot, production design, locations and past adventures. Heck, not even the obligatory cameo from Thor co-creator Stan Lee is sacred—identified here as the “creepy old man” who shears Thor’s tresses, resulting in a butch new rugby haircut.

Critics have praised Waititi’s style—and his cameo.

Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly:

It’s amazing that Waititi—a newbie in the jungle of corporate filmmaking—was able to inject so much of his unique voice into such a committee-approved juggernaut. (As a footnote, he also lends his hilarious down-under line readings to one of Ragnarok’s biggest scene-stealing side characters: an alien who looks like big blue pile of quarry rubble named Korg).

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Hemsworth’s got jokes!

Kyle Anderson, Nerdist:

Waititi encouraged improvisation on the set to get reality from his actors, and in Hemsworth, he’s found his superhero muse. Never before has the God of Thunder been so funny, and he sparks off of Ruffalo–both as Hulk and as Bruce Banner–in ways only hinted at in earlier films.

Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter:

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The relatively laidback angle on all the murderous spree-ing gives Chris Hemsworth a chance to find the comic groove beneath the title character’s beefcake godliness. He does it expertly, and the self-mocking humor is all the more welcome given Thor’s essential blandness.

Alonso Duralde, The Wrap:

Hemsworth continues his streak (both in the Marvel movies and in the “Ghostbusters” remake) as a daft performer who knows how to use his almost exaggeratedly perfect physical features as part of the joke. (Balancing, and intertwining, sex and humor make him the 21st century version of Marilyn Monroe or Jayne Mansfield.)

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Maybe … too many jokes?

Brian Truitt, USA Today:

It’s zany to a fault, though: The adventure leans hard into the campy Flash Gordon vibe and slapstick humor, so much so that when the third act save-the-world stuff comes, it doesn’t feel completely earned.

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Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter:

… the antic chords of “See? We don’t take ourselves too seriously!” are at times hammered home too insistently—cue the Matt Damon cameo …

The supporting cast also gets a chance to shine:

Peter Debruge, Variety:

Dressed in form-fitting black fetish gear and sporting a twisting, antler-spiked headdress, [Cate] Blanchett looks like some sort of latter-day Maleficent and suggests how Marlene Dietrich or Barbara Stanwyck might have interpreted a Marvel villainess, throwing back her shoulders and playing to the camera.

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Robbie Collin, the Telegraph:

… Thor is forcibly recruited into a gladiatorial tournament presided over by the Grandmaster: a supreme being who looks and behaves exactly like, and in fact is, Jeff Goldblum in a golden dressing gown, turquoise pyjamas, and a flash of sapphire lipstick. Other films would nervously swathe such a character in CGI, but Waititi’s camera eyes the outfit with an amusing beady deadpan, while Goldblum cranks his trademark half-suave gabbling to uproarious full blast.

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Scott Mendelson, Forbes:

[Tessa] Thompson especially all but steals the picture, as Valkyrie is a delight. She’s pissy, and [a] funny alcoholic in what is a fine subversion of the “strong female character” trope. But yes, she kicks butt when required. I imagine she will be a fan favorite.

All in all, the word to describe Ragnarok is: fun.

Geoffrey McNab, the Independent:

Thor: Ragnarok is fun in its own kinetic, comic book fashion.

Scott Mendelson, Forbes:

It’s paper-thin, but it’s good fun.

Bryan Bishop, The Verge:

… the most fun I’d had in a superhero movie in years.

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