This is a guest review by Fernando Autran. DVD Street is not responsible for any of these views or opinions.

The Thor saga occupies a strange place within the Marvel universe. It’s like that weird cousin in your family or the mysterious friend of your friend that nobody quite likes, but they don’t hate either. What I’m trying to say is that the best way to describe the previous two Thor movies is they were average. Blame it on an uninspiring script or bad direction, but they didn’t leave much of an impression. The question is then, has Thor Ragnarok finally managed to shake the saga from its stupor? Well, I’m happy to say that it has.

The solution came by pouring a big glass of Guardians of the Galaxy essence into the mix, but don’t take this as a lack of originality. Director Taika Waititi managed to take the best elements, implant them seamlessly and make the movie truly his. The humour, the campiness, the colourful characters and settings, are all there to our delight. A feast for the eyes that oozes charisma.

However, an amazing setting is nothing without a good story filling it, and although it’s pretty good overall, there’s a bit of dissonance that drags the experience. You see, the problem is that Thor Ragnarok is two stories packed into one. On one hand, we have Thor and Hulk’s story on the planet Sakaar, and on the other, we have Hela’s conquest of Asgard. From the two, the first one is clearly the best, and the jumps to the second one feel more like an intrusion than a progression of the story. The movie could have been perfect for just the first story.

This is not fault of any of the actors, they all perform their roles perfectly. That said, I would like to give a special mention to Cate Blanchett. She does a fantastic Job as Hela, she devours every scene she’s in. In a movie with so many characters that fell larger than life, you truly believe her when she says she’s the goddess of death.

That said the stars of the movie are definitively the Hulk-Thor duo. The banter and puns between the two wouldn’t have work if there wasn’t chemistry between the actors, but they both deliver, giving us a hilarious performance. The sibling relationship between Thor and Loki also gets developed and although not as humorous, it carries a lot of the drama of the movie, and it helps develop Loki’s character.

I’m talking a lot about the acting and the story, what about the action? It’s pretty much what you can expect from a Marvel movie: frenetic, tense, and exciting without dragging too long. It doesn’t have anything to envy from Guardians of the Galaxy. It speaks volumes of Taika Waititi’s skill as a director that the serious and comedic moments never clash during the action, they nicely flow from one to the other.

Thor Ragnarok is probably the funniest Marvel movie to date. That is its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. The virtues do outnumber the flaws, but they do not suppress them. Marvel has found a good equilibrium between comedy, action, and drama, but when the moments that stand out the most are the jokes you run out the risk of taking away the gravity of the story. So far, the movie manages to stay on balance with a few missteps. Time will tell if they’re capable of maintaining that balance with the rest of the movies.

Right off the bat, the best thing about the series is how short it is. Only eight episodes. It doesn’t suffer from the filler that the shows that proceed it suffered from. It keeps the show focused on one singular story. And benefits from that focus.

The show starts with a recap of where each character left off in their respective shows. If you haven’t seen the programs that predate THE DEFENDERS, you may find the beginning to be a little spoilery. I like to think they serve to entice you to watch those shows. They become prequels. You wonder how they got to where they are now.

Matt Murdock has given up his Daredevil persona and is now working full-time as a Pro Bono lawyer. Luke Cage is still in prison but is soon released. Jessica Jones is dealing with her issues the only way she knows how – at the bottom of a bottle.

And Danny Rand? He’s still trying to fulfill his duties as The Immortal Iron Fist.

He’s not doing so well.

Each Character gets pulled into the plot by their specific dealings with the Hand. The Hand is led by Sigourney Weaver’s character, Alexandra, one of the five “fingers” of the hand. She’s dying, and is looking to open a door to immortality.

She only needs a key.

Oh, and Electra lives. Again.

Being that this is Marvel, they don’t buddy up and save the world right away. There’s distrust. They fight each other. They deny their ability to help.

But by the end, they do the right thing

Each character brings something to the story. Jessica Jones serves as the Spider-man Surrogate, quick to drop one liners. Luke Cage is the moral compass, the man who wants to do the right thing. Matt is the leader, whether he wants to or not. And Danny? If you didn’t know he was the immortal iron fist, he will let you know.

A lot.

Towards the end, there is a shift in the tone of the show. By the third act of the series it becomes a Daredevil season 2.5, and the rest of the characters are back up. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones are especially out of place, serving as only muscle.

And while the four Superpowered characters get top billing, I can’t forget how much Misty Knight, Clair Temple, and Colleen Wing contribute to the team. They may not be on the front cover, but they are members of the team.

I give it the show 8 out of 10 Glowing Iron Fists. It’s a great way to spend a weekend if you feel like bingeing, with great performances by the actors and fun references to the comics, if you’re familiar with the characters. I would hope that a second season will bring a threat that is more central to each character, and not only one of them.

Perhaps they could hunt for a certain vigilante with a thing for Skulls?