I've long been a loyal follower of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, enjoying nearly all of the films and the continuing story they've been weaving for over ten years now. But it seems that out of all their main characters, Thor always gets the short end of the stick. His first movie was perfectly fine, while the sequel, "The Dark World", has been heralded by most fans as one of the weakest/worst movies of all the MCU films (and I kind of tend to agree--it wasn't awful, but certainly forgettable). So when a third installment was announced, the response was initially lukewarm. But as more trailers were unveiled, I got more and more excited, knowing that whatever we were going to get looked FAR better than Thor's previous two outings.
And my prediction was right. This is not only Thor's best movie, but easily one of the most entertaining of all the MCU films.
Two years after the events of "Age of Ultron", Thor has been unsuccessfully searching for the Infinity Stones, and is imprisoned by the fire demon, Surtur. Surtur reveals that Thor's father, Odin, is no longer on Asgard, and that the realm will soon be destroyed in the prophesied end-of-days, Ragnarök. After defeating Surtur, Thor returns to Asgard to find his brother Loki posing as Odin. Thor forces Loki to help him find their father, and with some help from Doctor Strange, they locate Odin in Norway. Odin then reveals that he's dying, and that his passing will allow his firstborn child, the goddess of death, Hela, to escape from a prison she was sealed in long ago. With Odin's passing, Hela is freed, and she subsequently destroys Thor's hammer Mjolnir, then forces him and Loki out into space to die. But while she sets out to conquer Asgard, unbeknownst to her, Thor and Loki fall through a wormhole and crash land on Sakaar--a garbage planet where they're both captured, and where Thor is taken to serve as a gladiator for the planet's ruler, the Grandmaster. But after discovering his old friend, the Hulk, has also been living on the planet for some time, along with a long lost fellow Asguardian, Thor rallies together his friends and the planet's citizens to overthrow the Grandmaster and find a way off the planet, so that he may return home, defeat Hela, and save Asgard.
Anyone who's become bored of Thor's character in his previous two films will be pleasantly surprised here. Gone is the traditional Shakespearian talk, and what we get instead is a fast paced, funny movie that dials the humor up to 11 and, dare I say it, is even funnier than the Guardians of the Galaxy films. Even for a situation as serious as Asgard potentially being destroyed (and with plenty of previously established Asgardians meeting their ends), the movie hits the perfect balance of knowing when to be serious, and when to let the humor and absurdness of certain situations shine. (And to any Led Zeppelin fans, yes, the "Immigrant Song" from the trailers is in the movie, and used to great effect.)
About the only criticism I can give is that the plot is incredibly fast paced, particularly towards the start, where a TON of info-dumping is given to explain what happened between "The Dark World" and now, and give backstory to the new characters---thus revealing that many of the previously established lore from the past Thor movies either was a lie, or a cover up. But it's all handled very well and makes total sense (it just goes by fast, so be prepared to pay close attention). Every single character gets their time to shine, and not one person steals the whole movie. Everyone, both hero and villain, is funny and memorable. Hela is having the time of her life destroying everything in her wake; Asgardian newcomer Valkerie has an interesting past (and though as much as I like Jane Foster, Val arguably makes for a better love interest for Thor), and the Hulk finally gets a chance to fully talk and articulate himself, thus leading to the movie not only being about Thor, but also being a small, sly adaption of the famous "Planet Hulk" storyline from the comics. And it all ends with a shocking final battle that does for Thor what "The Winter Soldier" did to Captain America.
So to any naysayers of the Thor films, this third installment will definitely be your cup of tea. With a fast, engaging plot, memorable characters, and witty humor, this is the huge kick in the pants that Thor needed.