Be prepared to be trapped in a 1980’s disco that looks like it’s paying homage to the set design of the Wizard of Oz and the classic SF book cover paintings of Chris Foss. Also there are jokes.
There is a story and the story makes sense. In a prologue involving Thor trapped in a cage with a skeleton, he recaps events we have seen and not seen but which revolve around Thor’s prophetic visions from Avengers: Age of Ultron. This is followed by an encounter with (sort of) the big bad Surtur – the being prophesied to bring about the end of Asgard in the Marvel Universe’s version of Ragnarok.
This is just the first of several info-dumps. Loki has some explaining to do as does Odin. Odin in particular has to introduce the character of Hela (Cate Blanchett playing the Marvel Universe equivalent of the Norse Hel). Don’t, whatever you do, worry about whether any of these details match up with Norse mythology – they don’t except at the most vague level i.e. Odin’s past machinations will lead to the destruction of Asgard and Loki is involved, a giant wolf and Hel/Hela. Hela herself has to explain some stuff but luckily Karl Urban gets to be her unwilling sidekick so she has somebody to talk to.
Surprisingly, the story all makes sense which is odd because the film acts like the story doesn’t make sense and doesn’t care. It is, a romp.
If you’ve seen the trailers you know that Thor ends up as a kind of gladiator on the planet Sakaraa under the hedonistic rule of Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster. There we encounter The Hulk in all his green glory.
Like Guardians of the Galaxy this a hectic space-fantasy comedy. The emotional range is less complex than Guardians and the jokes are more overt. The laid back quips of director Taika Waititi don’t always work as well in the mouths of Asgardians as they do in Waititi’s own character (a giant alien rock man called Korg) and some of the humour does require familiarity with the previous Avengers movies but there were plenty of giggles.
At the end the movie got Thor from A to B – from Earthbound Avenger to part of the cosmic setting where I assume Avengers: Infinity War will take place. A lighter (and shallower) entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe but wild, colourful fun with excellent performances all round.