Thor Ragnarok




The first THOR film in 2011 had the benefit of thespian wonder, Kenneth Branagh in the director’s chair.  The follow up in 2013, THOR : THE DARK WORLD was a muddled visual-effects showpiece that veered wildly in tone throughout.  But definitely third time lucky for the Norse God this year with THOR : RAGNAROK which is without doubt the lightest and most mirth-filled Marvel film I can recall. 


Chris Hemsworth showed his comic chops in the girl power GHOSTBUSTERS reboot and really lets the humor loose here.  If you have had a surfeit of darkly bleak dystopian epics of late, here lies grand scale levity.


New Zealand director Taika Waititi has achieved a remarkable balancing act in this creation.  It is the 17th film thus far in the Marvel canon and while having a retro feel with nostalgia and numerous nods and winks to past films is de rigueur, he has also managed an exhilarating freshness and novel vibe.


This time around, Thor’s main adversary comes from closer to home.  His older sister Hela, the Goddess of Death (played with arch evil and deliciously deadly comic malice by Cate Blanchett) has broken free from centuries of imprisonment and intends to bring chaos and slaughter to Asgard.  Odin (Anthony Hopkins) has departed the realm and Thor must again align with his totally duplicitous and untrustworthy brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to attempt to defeat Hela.  His motley band of misfits and crazies includes The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), an ex Valkyrie, booze-hound bounty hunter (Tessa Thompson from HBO”s WESTWORLD) and Korg, a lumbering stone monster (voiced by Waititi).


Amid the pop culture references, jokey asides and stylishly choreographed action sequences are some standout moments.  A swift trip back through the realms to New York brings us face to face with Dr. Strange again (Benedict Cumberbatch) and when Thor, stripped of his hammer and godly powers, finds himself adrift on an urban junk pile known as the planet Sakaar, he is forced into a gladiatorial contest for the amusement of The Grandmaster played with disco campiness by Jeff Goldblum in a gold dressing gown, turquoise pyjamas, blue eye shadow and a light smear of sapphire lipstick.


The cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe dazzles (it was filmed in Queensland, Australia) and the strong score by Mark Mothersbaugh (with the addition of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” that has lost none of its power in 47 years) underpins the remarkable visuals perfectly.


Adding to the already mega watt star power on display are Idris Elba, Karl Urban and Clancy Brown and in addition (see if you can spot them in their short cameos) Matt Damon, Sam Neill and Luke Hemsworth and the inevitable Hitchcockian screen appearance by the durable Stan Lee who at age 95 shows no signs of debilitation at all.


To be honest, I cannot find anything of note to carp about with this movie.  I suspect it is destined to occupy a lofty tier level in the Marvel movie universe.








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