Some superhero films can make it as stand alone films, much like Patty Jenkin's "Wonder Woman" did and much like James Gunn's "Guardians of the Galaxy" did in 2014. In both cases, you didn't need to be immersed in the DC or Marvel Comics universe to enjoy them. That's why they did so well at the box office.


Taiki Waititi's "Thor: Ragnarok" is not one of those films. This is a film for fans of the Marvel Universe and fans of Thor. If you didn't read the prelude in the comic books or see the previous Thor films you will be inundated with characters with whom you're not familiar.


The film opens with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in a battle with the demon Sutur who promises that Ragnarok - the end of Asgard - is about to happen because Odin is absent and Loki is having fun. Sure enough, after dispatching Sutur, Thor returns and finds Loki posing as Odin while Odin is in exile getting ready to die. Thor brings back order, but Odin warns him that once he dies, an evil sister named Hela, will be released from prison and will have at it with Asgard.

That happens and Hela (Cate Blanchet), Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor face off with Hela getting the better of the two in the Bitfrost transporter doo-dad. Thor and Loki wind up on Sakaar, a realm presided over by The Grandmaster (none other than Jeff Goldblum). The inhabitants engage in betting on gladiator fights and Thor is up... to battle Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).


Meanwhile, back on Asgard, Hela has taken over by easily dispatching just about everyone who oppose her.


Back on Sakaar, Thor, forms a tentative bond with Loki, Hulk and a gal name Valkerie (Tessa Thompson) who has no love for Hela. Their main objective is to get back to Asgard before Hela destroys it; a process that seemingly takes longer than the movie itself and transforms the film from an action hero flick to a buddy movie. You can pretty much imagine that any scene that features a treacherous Goldblum would be rather lite.

And that is the theme of the film - the non-stop jokes and quips by Hemsworth, Goldblum and of course Blanchett (who really does seem to enjoy her role as a super villainess). It is posed to be even more humorous than "Guardians of the Galaxy" drifting far away from it's more Shakespearean style in the previous Kenneth Branagh Thor rendering.


Moving in and out of the picture are Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Hogun and Volstagg (Tadanobu Asano and Ray Stevenson), and Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Idris Elba returns as Heimdall, keeping it serious. Tessa's Valkyrie is humorously tough an is intended to balance the femme power opposite Blanchett. Keep your eyes tuned for a very brief cameos by Sam Niell, Luke Hemsworth and Matt Damon. Natch, Thor co-creator Stan Lee gets his obligatory laugh in his cameo.


What is dissatisfying is the slightly restyled CGI Hulk using Ruffalo's mug in motion capture over the puffed up Hulk. Too many close-ups draw attention to the fact that Hulk is a computer generated character. Animation techniques have not yet mastered realistic flesh; it makes you appreciate the old days using Lou Ferrigno painted green. When the CGI Hulk first appeared with the Avengers, it was acceptable because his scenes were very brief with mostly action. Waititi has far too many close-ups of Hulk in his buddy moments and it looks like Thor is talking to a cartoon.


The comical edge covers the Ragnarok details omitted (that Marvel and Thor fanatics are more than happy to explain to you). Other tidbits like the fact that Hela was really the daughter of Loki and not Odin, is smudged. You'll need to look up what the nine realms are and why they were mentioned. And what about this Grandmaster dude, how will he fit in the upcoming Marvel features?


To its credit, the lighter content does make this the best of the Thor films, despite the technical flaws with the Hulk. The Hulk will remain a question mark until Marvel figures out how to present him.


"Thor: Ragnarock" is a rather entertaining farce that is purely for fans completely immersed in the Marvel Universe. Super light and fast paced, Cate Blanchett has as much fun as a villain as Chris Hemsworth has as the god of thunder.   -- GEOFF BURTON