What critics are saying about Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok is set to premiere for U.S. audiences on November 2, and fans have been dying to find out if it's as good as it looks. Helmed by director Taiki Waititi, it brings Chris Hemsworth thundering back to Asgard alongside Cate Blanchett (wearing the largest helmet we've ever seen) and Jeff Goldblum as an alien emperor—and like every other entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's among the most highly anticipated movies of the year. The review embargo has lifted and the first reviews are in, so we're taking a look at what the critics have to say about Thor: Ragnarok.

It's hilarious

Thor: Ragnarok director Taiki Waititi is known for indie comedies like What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and some fans were concerned that the director's trademark wit would be lost when he worked in the studio system—but never fear: critics are overwhelmingly complimenting this movie's humor.

The Guardian's Steve Rose says "Waititi infuses proceedings with that familiar, generously self-deprecating Kiwi wit, nowhere more so than in his own scene-stealing voice turn as a cheery blue rock monster." Meanwhile, Robbie Collin at The Telegraph says Waititi's "droll and bumbling comic style… proves surprisingly apt for Asgard and its pantheon of feuding super-hunks."

Still, some reviewers have criticized the relentless jokes, with IGN's Jim Vegvoda saying that "Thor: Ragnarok's desire to go for the gag also hurts the movie in a few key serious moments that deserved to pack more punch than they did."

Chris Hemsworth is better than ever

While Waititi's trademark humor was highly anticipated, critics seem to be completely surprised by how funny Chris Hemsworth's performance is. Dave Schilling at Birth.Movies.Death noted that "Hemsworth is a decent actor, but he's an exceptional comic performer." Brock Wilbur at Polygon agreed, saying "Chris Hemsworth could throw out ten fantastic, funny one-liners and still come out the winner."

Bryan Bishop at The Verge summarized the critical response to Hemsworth by saying that he "Opens up the comedic range of the character from the moment he appears on-screen. He really embraces the idea of Thor as a good-intentioned meathead, always trying to do the right things for the right reasons, but never quite as clever as he so clearly fancies himself."

The ensemble cast is great

While Marvel movies have built themselves on interconnectedness from the beginning, that's been a bit of a blessing and a curse for many fans. As exciting as it can be for fans to see their favorite heroes onscreen together, that also means less solo time for their favorites. Thor: Ragnarok is more of an Avengers-style ensemble piece than previous Thor movies, but this doesn't seem to be a bad thing; as Sheri Linden at the Hollywood Reporter puts it, "Besides its assortment of new characters, both live-action and digital, the film indulges in the kind of Marvel Universe crossover storyline that thrills fangirls and their brethren and leaves the rest of us guessing at the degrees of separation."

Tim Grierson at Screen Daily agrees, specifically complimenting Mark Ruffalo's performance and noting, "once Ruffalo's Bruce Banner arrives, he and Hemsworth lock into an amusing odd-couple rapport that almost transforms Thor: Ragnarok into a buddy-cop film."

The action is fun, but a little familiar

Since this is still a Marvel superhero movie, there needs to be action and special effects, even if Waititi seems to be making a comedy half the time. Brock Wilbur at Polygon praised the opening, an "action sequence that rivals the biggest video game set-piece you've ever seen, doling out combo-moves and hidden powers in a way that guarantees every single attack is a new and riveting choice." The Thor vs. Hulk battle that's been heavily advertised also seems to have been a hit with critics, with Indiewire's Eric Kohn calling it "a spectacular showdown."

Still, while Waititi seems to have succeeded at combining humor and action, critics have noted the redundancy of the plot and how similar it skews to past Marvel movies. Peter Debruge at Variety complained that the movie has a "confusing plot crudely bastardized from Norse mythology in which most of the action takes place on a parallel world you care nothing about." Still, even Debruge acknowledged that "while it's not saying much, Thor: Ragnarok is easily the best of the three Thor movies."

Cate Blanchett and Tessa Thompson are fun to watch

Cate Blanchett plays the villain of the film, Hela, the goddess of death with a secret connection to the Odin family. Tessa Thompson, meanwhile, plays Valkyrie, a hard-drinking retired Asgardian who traipses through space. Reviewers praised Blanchett's scenery-chewing performance and Thompson's cynicism, with IGN's Vejvoda saying "Blanchett's deliciously hammy performance has more personality… and calls to mind Max von Sydow's Ming the Merciless in the '80s sci-fi camp classic Flash Gordon."

He further praised Thompson as "an inspired casting choice," saying she "plays Valkyrie as a hard-drinking cynic who's turned her back on her Asgardian past. Like an old gunfighter forced to look back at who they used to be, her journey from selfish mercenary to Thor's ally essentially makes her the Han Solo of Thor: Ragnarok."

The Independent's Geoffrey McNab likewise praised Blanchett's large performance, noting that she "plays this character in high camp fashion as if she is a dominatrix version of the wicked witch from The Wizard Of Oz."

Jeff Goldblum is a welcome addition to the MCU

The critics all seem to agree on one thing: Jeff Goldblum's presence in Thor: Ragnarok elevates the movie exponentially. Robbie Collin at The Telegraph argued that Goldblum's performance in the movie is just literally…Goldblum, saying, "Other films would nervously swathe such a character in CGI, but Waititi's camera eyes the outfit with an amusing beady deadpan, while Goldblum cranks his trademark half-suave gabbling to uproarious full blast."

Bryan Bishop at The Verge agrees, noting that characters like Goldblum's the Grandmaster "are given the space to hang out and just be weird." Grierson likewise compliments Goldblum's "maximum off-kilter oddness as Sakaar's cruel ruler."