The character of Thor has always been­—for my money, anyway­—one of the least interesting in the Marvel Comics pantheon. The third installment to focus solely on the hammer wielding ‘God of Thunder’ is another effort that, like the other Thor films, represents the lower watermarks of the series. This one, thanks to some healthy doses of humor, is a bit of an improvement over the first two films but that isn’t saying much since the bar was set so low.

The first hour of the film is a hodgepodge of trite fantasy film nonsense that honestly required a—pardon the pun—Herculean effort on my part in order to stay engaged. Thankfully, at roughly the one hour mark, the Hulk shows up and enlivens things just enough to glide the film decently to the finish line. His appearance is just what the film needs at the point it becomes dangerously close to going completely off the rails.

The plot, such as it is, involves Thor (Chris Hemsworth, again) being pitted against a sister named Hela (Oscar winner, Cate Blanchett, doing the best she can with what she’s given to work with) he didn’t know that he had, who has plans to destroy Thor’s home turf. That plan is incidentally called Ragnarok, which gives the film its title. Unfortunately, the fiendish plot is so convoluted that most of it will be forgotten five minutes after it’s explained.

Thor eventually finds himself on another planet where the leader (Jeff Goldblum, doing what he usually does) informs him that if he wants to leave he must engage in battle with some sort of warrior in a gladiatorial competition. His opponent turns out to be the Hulk, which leads to a third act in which Hulk and Thor team up to rid the universe of Hela and her plans along with Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

Director Taika Waititi and writer Eric Pearson must be commended for at least giving Thor: Ragnarok a sense of humor. This is a film that seems to know how preposterous and ludicrous it is even for a Marvel film. The acknowledgement that things shouldn’t be taken too seriously carries the film a long way and there are a few solid belly laughs here and there. It may be instantly forgettable but at least it’s not the most unpleasant experience you’re likely to have at the movies this fall.

This movie is playing at the Hickory AMC theater.

Thor: Ragnarok: Karl Urban & Cate Blanchett

Questions or comments? Write Adam at [email protected].