• by Wes Singleton

Thor: Ragnarok, B+

Rated PG-13, 130 minutes

"Thor: Ragnarok" is a rollicking good, entertaining time, and the best Thor film and probably among the best three of the glut of Marvel films we've had in the last 10 years. While it's nothing new and can be heavy on the CGI, it delivers the goods, with as many funny moments as there are action-packed ones.

Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), his former ally and fellow Avenger. Thor's quest for survival leads him in a race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela (Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett) from destroying his home world and the Asgardian civilization.

The fast-paced and vastly fun "Thor: Ragnarok" is directed by "Hunt for the Wilderpeople's" Taiki Waititi and is co-written by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost and Eric Pearson, based on Stan Lee's (who does another terrific cameo here) Thor comics. Though not a comedy per se, it's one of the funniest Marvel Comics films to date, aided by an inspired cast and some energetic, albeit very busy, visuals.

This one finds Thor again in the midst of tangled family issues, as his older sister Hela, the Maleficent-inspired death queen, arrives on the scene to take over as Thor's father Odin (Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins) meets an untimely death, thanks in no part to mischievous brother, played again by the charming Hiddleston. Hela is played the fantabulous (my own word) Blanchett, who prances in and nearly steals the film as one of the most memorable villains in any Marvel film: she's evil, powerful and can rock a black leather suit like no one's business.

There's plenty of comedy to go around here too, particularly in the overlong second act when Thor meets up with Hulk/Bruce Banner again on another planet, that's led by a strong comedic presence in "Jurassic Park's" Jeff Goldblum, adding to the all-star cast. Speaking of some of other cast members, I wish they'd spent more time on Idris Elba's Heimdall or Karl Urban's Skurge, who becomes an unwilling member of Hela's posse, instead of unnecessary cameos from the likes of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).

Still, "Thor: Ragnarok" is a pleasant, funny, action-packed film that will keep you engaged with some terrific action scenes and a loose energy you don't see in a lot of superhero films, even some of the Marvel ones, who tend to take themselves too seriously. "Thor" and Hemsworth have always been good sports, and you'll enjoy this outing too. Watch for a hilarious reenactment of a key scene from one of the other "Thor" films, and yes, that's Matt Damon as Loki and Hemsworth's brother Luke as Thor.

"Thor: Ragnarok" is lively and memorable enough you may want to see it again.

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