Note: This is a non-spoiler review. Some plot points and characters may be discussed but no major spoilers will be referenced.
Exclusive First Look Photos of Thor: Ragnarok (Courtesy : Entertainment Weekly)

Exciting, funny, and above all fun, Thor: Ragnarok is a colorful cosmic adventure that sets a new standard for its franchise — and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

– Critics Consensus, Rotten Tomatoes

The third installment of the Thor trilogy in Marvel Cinematic Universe, released on 3rd November, worldwide, received a staggering 93% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.2/10 on IMDb and reached a rumbling $164 million on opening weekend, worldwide. Directed by Taika Waititi, starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Cate Blanchett (Hela), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk), Idris Elba (Heimdall), Anthony Hopkins (Odin), Jeff Goldblum (Grandmaster), Karl Urban (Skurge) and Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie #142); “Thor : Ragnarok” is a Norse-mythology infused galactic roller-coaster ride inside a discothèque – which inspite of mixing odd comedy and perfectly timed background score with gripping action sequences – surprisingly managed pretty well to deliver the much promised finality.

From Left to Right : Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, Jeff Goldblum and Cate Blanchett (Courtesy : Marvel Studios)

For noobs, “Thor : Ragnarok” is set two years after the events of “Avengers : Age of Ultron“. Hela, the Goddess of Death, an ancient enemy of Asgard, has returned. And upon engagement, broke Thor’s mighty hammer Mjölnir and are sent to the wasteland planet, Sakaar, where Thor gets captured. Imprisoned, he finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest, run by the Grandmaster, against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival, unlock his inner strength, gather up forces, make appeasements with his adopted brother and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization and bring upon the prophesized Ragnarok – the end of all worlds.

Thor possibly unlocking Odinforce after he lets go of Mjölnir and unleashes his inner power of the Thunder God (Courtesy : Thor : Ragnarok Final International trailer, YouTube)

Chris Hemsworth portrays his best Thor so far and has redefined the mythical, alien, comic superhero format that we know of, even without his goldilocks and hammer. The actor pushed his own boundaries to deliver biting humour and charming Aussie-baritone. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki in this movie has been the nicest Loki so far out and he yet again proves that whether its a senile, mischievous baddie or a deprived, predictive prince and brother, he always hits the right spot in performance. Complaints are with Cate Blanchett’s Hela, inspite of her being stellar and captivating, the lack of enough screen time for her character development left a mark in every fan’s heart, as she had been one of the best MCU villains so far, thus almost doing justice to female MCU villains. Mark Ruffalo’s Banner was a fish out of the water but his Hulk motion captures were “smashing”. Finally, a talking Hulk! And he’s really adorable too.

Team Revengers [Hulk, Thor, Valkyrie #142 and Loki prep up to fight the vicious Hela on the Rainbow Bridge] (Courtesy : Thor – Ragnarok International trailer #3/YouTube/Marvel Studios)
The rest of the cast was pretty neat too – Jeff Goldblum’s zany Grandmaster; Karl Urban’s blunt but brave Skurge, Tessa Thompson’s badass Valkyrie #142 with a redemption arc of a forgotten, alcoholic noble warrior; Idris Elba’s Heimdall “the saviour” and Anthony Hopkin’s best Odin performance, till date, as he enacts the most touching scene of the movie. Also, Benedict Cumberbatch reprises his role as Doctor Stephen Strange, for a short span on-screen, yet manages to maintain that aura and supremacy around Thor, as he aids him on Earth.

Cate Blanchett as Hela against the legion of Valkyrie. The scene looks almost like a highly-detailed Greek mural. (Courtesy : Thor – Ragnarok teaser trailer/YouTube/Marvel Studios)

Kiwi director Taika Waititi, whose credits include the flat-out brilliant vampire spoof “What We Do in the Shadows”, is responsible for the film’s wacked out comedic tone and especially for giving it a distinct voice and personality, literally, as he himself voiced the character of Korg. He just didn’t add a ton of characters into a CGI-doped blender, instead, delivered an enthusiastic, hilarious reboot of the idea of how diverse yet fun a Marvel movie can be.
Cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe did a fantastic job with the overall appeal of each scene. There are shots in this movie that would make for some high quality Greek murals. From Jack Kirby’s comic pages and previous magnificent renditions of Asgard in Thor films to the retro-futuristic Sakaar, the film made sure that each location made a prominent impact to the eyes.
The action scenes are so massively extravagant and captivating that it had to be paired with the iconic Led Zeppelin‘s – The Immigrant Song, in order to boost up our adrenaline to pointbreak. From the Marvel logo transitioning into the fires of Muspelheim to the slow-mo captures of defeated Asgardian warriors, the film makes up in editing what it lacks in strong character development of its main characters.

“I was really excited when Kevin [Feige] and the rest of Marvel jumped on board with the idea to use Kirby as a big influence in the design of the film. What’s really hard is staying authentic” : Taika Waititi on an interview (Courtesy : MCU Exchange)
The 3D aspect of this movie is almost as captivating as “Doctor Strange” and “Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2“. And the high budget Marvel CGI really pays off. Especially the ‘talking’ and childishly arrogant Hulk, in a bath-towel. Other creatures like Surtur, Korg, Meek and Fenris – the wolf, are beautifully designed too. And who’d forget the “sparkles” on Thor as the God of Thunder redeems himself and unlocks his hidden power, as he goes to strike down Hela! Man, that was a brilliant spectacle even in the trailers! Overall, the CGI doesn’t look bland but pairs well with the heavily toned performances of the actors on-screen and the laugh-out-loud humour.

“Yeah…same. Hulk like fire, Thor like water…” Mark Ruffalo’s computer-generated Hulk is a win-win (Courtesy : Marvel Studios)

After “Captain America : Civil War“, “Thor : Ragnarok” is next in line to have the best original score for its entire movie. The background score, at times, is so involving that it inspires you to pay attention even in the most narrative and explanatory scenes. It excels in hyping up the anticipation as well as provides comedic humour by going dead silent at times. It mixes previous MCU scores of the two Thor movies, with some 80’s retro-disco themes and some Led Zeppelin thrown in there for good measure.

In addition to being included in the trailer for Thor: Ragnarok, Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” is used in the film itself (Courtesy : Atlantic Records)

Besides the tons of easter eggs, references and MCU callbacks, Marvel doesn’t yet fail again to provide with a obligatory Stan Lee cameo (probably the best one ever) as well as two credit scenes. One of which sets up the tone and menacing threat of the upcoming “Avengers : Infinity War“. There are also surprising cameos from Matt Damon, Luke Hemsworth and Sam Neill. Trivia – Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum reunited after 13 years in this movie, since Jurassic Park and two Hemsworths portrays the role of Thor. That’s one of the many short candies there for movie-watchers to find.

Taika Waititi had to do little to no convincing in order to bring these stars on-board for short cameos in Thor : Ragnarok (Courtesy : Quora)

To summarise, “Thor : Ragnarok”, unlike its last two instalments, feels more like a action comedy superhero flick punched with tons of meta-commentary than a chapter on Norse mythology. In spite of Marvel’s big-budget, PG 13, low stakes monotonicity; superhero saturation, lack of enough screen time for character development, hard to miss scriptural loopholes and logical flaws, Waititi succeeds to deliver a fun-to-watch, colour capped, superhero movie with 3 distinct protagonists, each with a personality and struggle of its own. That’s no small feat, given that many directors left midway as they were not given enough freedom for their vision to unfold. But with filmmakers like Waititi, Gunn and Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther”), Marvel is entering a phase where it learns to embrace its directors individualistic voices instead of aiming for the sky. And we can only hope for the best yet to arrive.

My verdict – 4.6/5