Thor: Ragnarok nearly lives up to the hype, with the accent being on Marvel's patented triplicate move, slick action, lots of jokes and a particularly intense emphasis on making sure the movies from their studio tie into together. It wouldn't be unfair to say that the movie would be incoherent for plot and character if one hadn't seen a long string of other Marvel brand films, in the right sequence. Perhaps part of the promotional hype should have been for Marvel to own the potential impenetrability of this film's core rationale for those other less familiar with this connected universe and provided for them a list of titles to view beforehand. All the same, Thor and Hulk seem less Avengers than they do Hope and Crosby of the 'Road" movies. Is the ramped up comedy a good idea? Yes, since is this is only good Thor movie of the three that have been made. The laughs were honestly achieved from character interaction , personality clash, the whole shot, and the humor were managed much, much better than the repetitive joke-fight-joke-joke-fight tedium of Civil War. Marvel movies are Disney movies, after all, and franchise films are required in this studio to very much resembling in style and tone what was made before; for them, judging their movies becomes how well the individual directors made the house style entertaining and just a little different. The present movie is an inspired variation on the formula.
For special effects set pieces, this effort is among the best of the year, diluted a notch or two for crowding too many into this two-hour movie. It works much better than the previous EF fiesta Valerian, which I thought was merely busy despite the amount of money spent constructing that confounding mess. Thor: Ragnarok has the benefit of character recognition--despite what I've already said about potential plot incoherent, the host of characters are known commodities, and well portrayed, full of plausible quirks and comic nonchalance. Matters move along briskly, the spectacle builds well, and the decision to use the design ideas of comic book genius artist Jack Kirby and Thor co-creator is a way to differentiate this picture from the three tepid films in this franchise. It has the psychedelic visual style of Kirby used to good and effective measure here.
This isn't the game changer for the Marvel Universe that fans are hoping for--for all their polish, crafted fury and a sense of ongoing wit, Marvel films have fallen prey to a lurking Disneyism that has all but infiltrated the rebel spirit of the comic book ethos and has made each hit they produce to be otherwise indistinguishable from the one before it. Spectacular effects, superb editing, snappy dialogue, in that order or similarly changed up to minuscule degrees, are what dominate this connected universe, and there is a mounting tedium in their ongoing slate of releases, which explains why the punchlines are ramped up in this production and that the small amounts of self-reflective dread and existential moments are removed or reduced to all but inconsequential plot requirements. If that's the case, it works on its own terms, a distraction from real-world headlines that inform you that the world is filled with awful people doing hideous, heinous, ugly things to other people. This was a hoot, a laugh, a nail-biter, the entertainment we need.