Thor: Ragnarok ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I can see why some are not enamoured of this film. I didn't feel that its approach came completely out of left field, given that my and my partner's recent rewatch of the first two THOR films highlighted the type of humour already established in the MCU version of the THOR mythology. It felt very much of a piece both with those (especially the attack on Asgard in THE DARK WORLD) and the Phase II/III approach that brought us Shane Black's constantly comedic approach to IRON MAN III as well as James Gunn's highly idiosyncratic approach to the GUARDIANS (and also Peyton Reed's far more finely-tuned ANT-MAN). Like those, the director's personality and approach are stamped all over it, and it is about as well integrated with the actual Marvel elements here as any of those, i.e. not as much as in Phase I or as I would like.
For my tastes it could have used fewer comedic moments placed at the end of more dramatic scenes, as well as more of the latter to acknowledge the destruction of certain characters (though their deaths were inevitable given it's RAGNAROK) and it was quite frankly a waste of PLANET HULK, more so than IMIII's waste of both DEMON IN A BOTTLE and EXTREMIS or GUARDIANS' waste of some of the best runs of the comics. Just like GUARDIANS 2 there are times where it feels like the actors are having a better time on set than we are - the Thor/Banner stuff has some good moments but also some intensely crap ones that seem to be there just for Hemsworth and Ruffalo to pal about.
However, there's enough Kirby and Simonson in there, as well as an awesome score, great fight choreography, and lots of videogame references in the design according to Kimberley, to keep us happy. Yes, I even liked the director's role Korg as comic relief a lot, more so than Goldblum, who didn't do anything as radical with his established acting persona as Redford did in WINTER SOLDIER or as clever as Douglas did in ANT-MAN; in that sense it was as predictable as Russell's still-enjoyable work in GUARDIANS 2 (see previous comment about actors having a good time on set). A good chunk of the Sakaar-set sequences made me think we definitely have the tech to adapt a number of 2000AD series properly, and, even though the Grandmaster's yacht was directly off the page from Kirby, in 3D and in movement it looked like a Chris Foss image come to life, which I found thrilling. In fact, that entire chase sequence was a stand-out for me, thinking about it now as I write, as superhero action goes, this film had some of the best I've seen in years, especially compared to GUARDIANS 2 and even CIVIL WAR, which didn't hold a candle to WINTER SOLDIER first time around. Then again, I'm pro-Snyder, and said scquences here had some of the bombast, visual drama and classical art allusions he brought to his DC adaps.
(In deference to those on my feeds who don't need to read middle-aged human perving on a celebrity, I will save my adoration of Cate Blanchett gone Goth for appropriate times and places. Having followed her career since at least OSCAR AND LUCINDA and then ELIZABETH, hers is a talent always, always worth watching regardless of role or setting, and it's a joy to watch her playing the righteously destructive Goddess of Death.)