Josh Needle’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Road to Infinity War - #17
Well, I was trying to wait a few more days to continue to keep the movies spaced out as much as possible, but I've been dying to rewatch this for SO LONG, and my blu-ray was just sitting there...taunting me...
Bad News: I have no self control.
Good News: This is even better than I remember it!
After two viewings, Thor: Ragnarok has made it's way into the highest caliber of the MCU for me. I adore this movie with all my damn heart, and can't wait to watch it again, and again! This is one of the best in the franchise, the best Thor film by a country mile, arguably the funniest Marvel film to date, and such a smart and adrenaline-fueled piece of pure entertainment.
The cast across the board completely kills it. Chris Hemsworth is the best he's ever been, and gets to show off way more of how amazing of a comedic actor he is, and Tom Hiddleston continues to be excellent as Loki. Mark Ruffalo joins Thor for this adventure, and he's also at his all-time best both as Bruce and Hulk! As for the newcomers, Tessa Thompson is incredible as Valkyrie and is the show stealer for me, and Cate Blanchett as one of Marvel's most badass and menacing villains, Hela, is about as great as you'd expect her to be. Anthony Hopkins and Idris Elba both return as Odin and Heimdall in epic fashion, Karl Urban is a breath of fresh air as Skurge, and of course...Jeff Goldblum is Jeff Goldblum, and really what else could you ask for?
Director Taika Waititi's indie to blockbuster debut is one of the best there's been in years. He brings such a fresh new energy to the Thor franchise and the MCU in general, and his sense of humor and distinctive style works within it beautifully. What I love so much about what he brings to Thor, both the franchise and the character, is comedy and a sense of self awareness. He brilliantly builds off of the characters journey that's come before in the Thor and Avengers films, in which he's spent much of his time on earth, and brings a more contemporary and naturally funny edge to him, and it changes the entire feel of this film, following the previous two, for the better, and in a way that makes sense.
Thor: Ragnarok, at its core, is a sci-fi adventure/comedy, and in my opinion it's a pretty damn genius one at that. The humor is clever, with nearly every joke and gag and line completely landing for me. When I say adventure/comedy though, I really mean it, because as unbelievably hysterical as it is from start to finish, it's also epic in scale with massive stakes, much of it courtesy of Hela, and heavy in heart, thanks to Thors compelling and heroic story, and the beautiful dynamic between him, Loki, and Odin. The line that Waititi rides between the two completely two different kinds of storytelling is a fine one, but he knocks it out of the park! One minute this movie has me dying of laughter, and the next I'm caught up in the dramatic weight or the epic fantasy of it all. It's pretty brilliant.
On a technical level this is also one of Marvel's finest achievements to date. It's one of their most beautifully shot and colorful films, and the way Waititi utilizes the visuals to add to the wacky tone is awesome. I also think Mark Mothersbaugh's musical score is astounding, unique, energetic as hell, and in my opinion, really under appreciated. The action is far better than either of the previous Thor films, (though I really enjoyed much of what we got in the first one) finally giving this franchise its own distinct style of action set pieces, and using the world of gods and magic to its full potential!
Above all though, Thor: Ragnarok is just so much goddamn fun. I know that a handful of film fans have grown irritated of the word "fun" being used to describe this film, or superhero films, or any film really, but I just don't get it. Do you like...hate fun, or something? It's a movie about a norse god and a green monster taking on the goddess of death. Sure there should be (and is) weight and it should take the characters seriously, but if you're not going to make it unfathomably entertaining and fun as shit to watch, then why even bother? Fun is the name of Taika Waititi's game, and he wins it with a slam dunk.
This is such a clever, incredibly well-made piece of superhero entertainment. The characters are great, the story is gripping, it's incredibly funny from start to finish, and it's all blended with epic storytelling and terrific character drama in a way that feels fresh, and shows not necessarily what a Thor movie should be, but what we never knew it could be! I love it!
Also, Taikia Waititi did 1000x better of a job with the character of Doctor Strange in one scene than Scott Derrickson did in his entire origin movie. Taika for Doctor Strange 2, please!