3 (out of 4)
In a year where Disney/Marvel has branded their films with an unflagging lightheartedness, Thor: Ragnarok, unlike Guardians Vol. 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming, actually benefits from its generous helping of comedy.
And with a low bar to clear in the first two forgettable Thor installments, Ragnarok goes grander for the better in establishing its own mini-Avenger collection in the Hulk/Thor duo, plus some Loki and a new face in Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie. The best part of the seventeenth entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that it still has time for a deliriously lengthy second act that employs weirder sci-fi elements, amusing secondary characters and an enamoring sense of discovery that we so infrequently get to enjoy due to MCU’s own growing exhaustion.
While the endless quipping and tongue-in-cheek that these capeflicks dish out more and more in a "see what sticks" mentality, I can honestly say this third Thor was quite fun. Aligning along with the restrained boldness of the seriously underrated Doctor Strange, Ragnarok has inspired world-building that Guardians misses aplenty in its juvenile-aimed mischief and childish characters that work better as the cartoons they basically are.
It does no good to praise Disney's doings more than necessary, so all that is left to say is that Thor: Ragnarok taps into the episodic qualities of the franchise for the best, even if it requires typical stock villains like the Goddess of Death Hela, played by a wondrously hammy Cate Blanchett. This formula is going nowhere, but at least their tweaking the flavor enough to keep us coming back for further helpings.
To keep it brief...