Badass Blanchett Is a Worthy Opponent to Hemsworth in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’

Everyone deals with family drama from time to time, and the gods are no exception. “Thor: Ragnarok,” the third stand-alone Thor film from Marvel, sees the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) sorting through issues with two siblings this time around. Helmed by Taika Waititi, “Thor: Ragnarok” is an intergalactic thrill ride full of of the kind of offbeat humor seen in Waititi’s previous films, the exhilarating action sequences one comes to expect in a Marvel film, and a hearty dose of heart.

Thor’s story picks up with his being held captive by the fire demon Surtur, who reveals to him that the realm will soon be destroyed by a series of future events known as Ragnarok. After Thor defeats his captor and returns to his home planet of Asgard. There, he discovers that his mischievous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is impersonating their elderly father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), whom he dumped in a New York nursing home that has since been destroyed. With some guidance from Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), the boys track down their father, who makes a startling deathbed confession: They have an older sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), whom he locked up after she became a threat. After Odin’s death, Hela materializes, determined to take the throne. Blanchett, who thrives in historical roles, may not seem like the most likely comic book film actress, but she’s a natural here as the badass Goddess of Death, holding her own against Hemsworth as she destroys his trusty hammer and forces him off the planet.

Thor ends up on a junkyard of a planet known as Sakaar, which is led by an eccentric dictator known as the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). Goldblum is his finest as this oddball villain who owns a spaceship dedicated to pleasure (complete with a sound system blasting sexy tunes sung by the master himself). Forced to cut his luscious blonde locks and fight gladiator style, Thor finds himself at odds with Loki, who has buddied up to the Grandmaster. Thor does have one ally, Bruce Banner (a charmingly neurotic Mark Ruffalo), a.k.a. the Hulk, but only when he is not in angry green giant form. He also join forces with another refugee from Asgard, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). Although Thor has split from his previous girlfriend, Sif, there’s no wedged in romance to be found here. Sure, there’s some sexual tension to be found, but that’s not her main purpose here, as Valkyrie is Thor’s equal in body as well as mind, hardly a the damsel in distress or cheerleader found in action films.  Hard drinking and fearless, she is a new kind of action heroine, one whose journey the viewer will hope to see continue. Like Hela, she is bucking the patriarchy, only her endgame doesn’t involve genocide.

Thor and his friends make plans to escape and take back Asgard, but first he has to deal with his duplicitous brother, which makes for some the films best scenes as the siblings do their tango. Once they reach Asgard, an epic battle ensues, one made all the more enjoyable by some bold soundtrack choices. In the end, Thor is forced to make a difficult, one that reminds us that home is more than just a physical place, it’s about the people who make us complete.

Thor: Ragnarok” opens Nov. 3 nationwide.