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'Thor: Ragnarok' lacks substance — even by comic-book movie standards

'Thor: Ragnarok' lacks substance — even by comic-book movie standards

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Thor (Chris Hemsworth) can’t seem to stay out of trouble. A Norse god who hails from Asgard and carries a huge hammer that can be relied upon to boomerang back to him, he has the odd habit of getting captured by bad guys. And then making wisecracks about it.

His latest predicament is being imprisoned on the tacky planet Sakaar, by its equally tacky ruler Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). Unsurprisingly, Thor’s mischievous and occasionally downright sinister brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has insinuated himself into Grandmaster’s good graces. 

Meanwhile, Asgard is under threat by Hela (Cate Blanchett — yes, the two-time Oscar winner), a terrifyingly powerful megalomaniac who happens to be the sister of Thor and Loki. Hela carries a massive grudge against their father, Odin (Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins), and wreaking havoc is her way of paying him back.

Bound by his sense of honor, Thor is keen on preventing Asgard’s destruction. But getting back to his home world may not be so easy. Grandmaster has arranged for him to battle a gladiator who has proven to be unbeatable.

And that gladiator is someone with whom Thor is quite familiar and whose incredible strength he has witnessed first-hand: The Hulk.

“Thor: Ragnarok” is one of the silliest and least substantial of recent comic-book movies — a jokey, unapologetically nonsensical romp that makes “The Avengers” look like “The Godfather.” Working from a screenplay by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher L. Yost, director Taika Waititi (“Hunt for the Wilderpeople”) delivers a film that flows smoothly from scene to scene but seems to lack any significant reason to exist other than generating box-office bucks.

Still, it’s adequately entertaining. Hemsworth turns in an engagingly lighthearted performance, Hiddleston has honed Loki into one of the most likably unlikable characters in film, and Blanchett goes all in on Hela’s malevolence.

If your goal is to spend a few hours escaping from reality, “Thor: Ragnarok” is definitely for you.

What “Thor: Ragnarok” • Three stars out of four • Run time 2:10 • Rating PG-13 • Content Violence, action and suggestive material

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