Jurassic World made eleventy billion* dollars at the box office. It had dinosaurs eating people and a John Williams score. But I walked out of it wishing it had done more. Chris Pratt, who can be terrifically entertaining when he's given material that plays to his strengths, was stuck with a role that asked only that he be a generic action hero.
Thor: Ragnarok manages to avoid misusing its Chris in the way that Jurassic World and all the previous Thor movies did. Hemsworth still gets to flex his muscles and punch things heroically, but he also has a chance to display his underrated comedic abilities. Thor: Ragnarok is lighter on its feet than most of its peers in the comic movie genre, still serving up giant colorful screenfuls of computer graphics punching each other, but balanced with just enough genuinely funny moments that it doesn't collapse under its own weight. It's in on the joke, in a way that feels warm and welcoming rather than calculated.
The stakes, naturally, are standard end-of-the-world stuff. Thankfully, for the first time in a Thor movie we have a villain that's watchable and easy to root against, unlike the lifeless ice giants and dark elves we got in previous films. Cate Blanchett seems to be having a great time playing a murderous villain. And I was greatly relieved that the film found a way to have a final confrontation that was both kinetic and satisfying, and that had a little more substance than the hero just deciding that he should punch harder. Or at least not only that.
The supporting cast is uniformly great, and given fun things to do. Tom Hiddleston is always a joy as Loki, and Tessa Thompson lends toughness and tragedy to what could have a been a very generic appearance for a character with a very generic name. I even liked the Doctor Strange in this film more than I liked him in his own feature.
If the rumors are true and the upcoming Justice League movie is a little bit more fun than the past few Zach Snyder gloomfests have been, I'm hopeful that we are turning a corner in the comic movie genre. Maybe it's no longer enough to show characters the audience read about when they were kids punching on the screen; maybe filmmakers are going to have to make superhero movies that are entertaining in their own right. If they keep making them like Thor: Ragnarok, I'll happily keep going to see them.
Just not in 3-D. Those glasses. Ugh.