“Thor: Ragnarok” may be the third stand-alone Thor movie, but it revitalizes the franchise, as well as the superhero genre, in a way that the previous chapters have not.  Director Taika Waititi’s vision presents Thor (Chris Hemsworth) as more smart-alecky yet relatable than ever before.

The movie’s opening scene shows a new Thor.  While there’s never really a fear that he’s not as all-powerful as ever, there’s also a different tenor to his wisecracking jokes.  He’s cocky, but not standoffish.

A good portion of “Thor: Ragnarok” takes place on Sakaar, a planet ruled by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum).  He’s a brand of nutty reminiscent of Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka, a connection further emphasized by several references to the 1971 film.  Though the Grandmaster is a more heavy-handed ruler of his domain than Wonka, there’s a lightheartedness to his world despite evidence to the contrary.

In fact, the entire movie is lighter than many of the others within the superhero genre, both in terms of humor as well as on the technical side.  The visibly brighter way “Thor: Ragnarok” is shot becomes a big clue that things aren’t as grim as the story may suggest.

That said, Hela (Cate Blanchett) may be the realm’s most powerful villain yet.  She’s both awe-inspiring and horrifying in everything from her behavior to her backstory–which is better left unsaid in the interest of avoiding spoilers.

The movie also stars Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, and Idris Elba.

For more about “Thor: Ragnarok”, including a great behind-the-scenes story about Cate Blanchett’s fight scenes, take a look below:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/_U9YrB75vCw

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