Thor: Ragnarok explores the best parts of Guardians of the Galaxy.

THV11 Film critic Jonathan Nettles tells us what movies are in theaters this weekend

Thor is back and his land of Asgard is under threat of destruction in Thor: Ragnarok. Thor has been away from his home for many years seeking the elusive Infinity Stones and coming across other heroic adventures. When he returns, he finds that things have changed a bit and a new all-powerful threat emerges in the form of Hela, the Goddess of Death who aims to claim Asgard as her own and conquer the other realms in the galaxy. Before taking on Hela, Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the galaxy and is forced into gladiator-style combat against a former ally – The Hulk. If he wants to save his people, he must form his own team of heroes.

I find it more and more difficult to review or criticize Marvel films because they are what they are and you get what you get. They’re mostly entertaining and fun. You grow to like the characters, even the villains. They’ll always have a villain that cleans the heroes clock in the beginning but somehow, they find a way to win at the end either by gaining more power or working together. The heroes always go on some journey of self-discovery. They all have the same basic plot structure, the only difference in these movies is in the characters and the texture in which they’re presented.

Thor: Ragnarok goes out on a limb and changes its noble, dramatic palette to one that fits into the same world as Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s a departure from the solo Thor films in that it adds humor and a more “fantastical” world. Less drama, more action makes for a better comic book movie and it makes sense for Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor to exist in the same world because they’re both intergalactic stories. Guardians of the Galaxy’s best parts are its rich texture of worlds, alien diversity, and its weirdness and Thor was lacking in its’ exploration of that same richness, until now.

I had a great time watching Thor: Ragnarok because of that exploration. It was an act of brilliance to put Thor and Hulk in a movie aside from The Avengers. Thor and Bruce Banner don’t work as well but Thor and Hulk have chemistry. Jeff Goldblum steals the show as The Grandmaster that forces Hulk and Thor into the combat arena as does Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, who initially captures Thor but turns out to be an Asgardian in hiding. I just can’t say enough about the casting in Marvel films. The studio hasn’t had any missteps in that area.  Tom Hiddleston is great. Mark Ruffalo is great. Idris Elba finally gets to do something. Cate Blanchette plays a good villain and Karl Urban plays a likeable henchman. There’s even a few memorable surprise cameos.

I liked this movie a lot but I have two concerns, neither of which take anything away from it. First off, it bothered me that there was so much humor in it. Especially from Thor, it felt like a departure for the character we’ve seen so far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The second concern is over how the intergalactic universe of Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy will fit into the Earth-bound universe of Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Panther. We will find out next year when everybody meets up against Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.

Also in theaters this week, A Bad Moms Christmas follows our three under-appreciated and over-burdened moms from 2016’s Bad Moms as they rebel against the challenges and expectations of the Super Bowl for moms: Christmas. And if creating a more perfect holiday for their families wasn't hard enough, they must do all of that while hosting and entertaining their own mothers. By the end of the journey, the moms will redefine how to make the holidays special for all and discover a closer relationship with their mothers. A Bad Moms Christmas stars Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christine Baranski, Susan Sarandon, Cheryl Hines, Jay Hernandez, Peter Gallagher, and Justin Hartley. 

Goodbye Christopher Robin gives a rare glimpse into the relationship between beloved children's author A. A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin, whose toys inspired the magical world of Winnie the Pooh. Along with his mother Daphne, and his nanny Olive, Christopher Robin and his family are swept up in the international success of the books; the enchanting tales bringing hope and comfort to England after the First World War. But with the eyes of the world on Christopher Robin, what will the cost be to the family? Goodbye Christopher Robin stars Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, and Will Tilston.

 

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