Eppler: "Thor: Ragnarok" plays it fast and loose

Eppler: "Thor: Ragnarok" plays it fast and loose

I know it feels like every other movie released features superheroes, but when they're good, it's hard to complain too much. Sure enough, the self-perpetuating money machine that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe has another winner with "Thor: Ragnarok."

I was a big fan of the first "Thor" which had distinctive Shakespearean flavor, but the second was a bit of a dreary slog. This third movie is a sharp turn from the previous two - a fast, loose, relaxed and often hilarious ride that really puts the comic in comic book movie.

Chris Hemsworth gives his best performance yet as Thor - really settling into the role after all these years, even if he has become more of a Tony Stark/Starlord wise-cracker. 

This time, Thor's home of Asgard is being threatened by the Goddess of Death, played Cate Blanchett laying on the "eeeevil" sneer as thick as her eye-liner. So Thor assembles a team to help including his brother Loki, played again by the always welcome Tom Hiddleston, and another so-called friend from work: The Hulk and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo).

The new characters are a lot of fun, too. Tessa Thompson is a fantastic find as Valkyrie, and Jeff Goldblum was apparently just told to do peak Jeff Goldblum things as a slaver who oversees gladiator contests.

The movie is directed by Taika Waititi from HBO's "Flight of the Concords" and the hilarious "What We Do in the Shadows" - products that soared on snappy dialogue and character interactions. That's where "Thor: Ragnarok" is strongest.

The obligatory climactic battle is a CGI snooze-fest, but the formula works. "Thor: Ragnarok" deserves to stand with the better half of the Marvel movies.

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