Movie Review: ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ takes God of Thunder in comic new direction

WASHINGTON — Since his blockbuster origin story in 2011, Thor has change into certainly one of Marvel’s hottest superheroes along with his signature purple cape, magic hammer and golden locks.

This weekend, Chris Hemsworth scraps all three for a a lot totally different take within the lighthearted, candy-colored, uproariously humorous “Thor: Ragnarok,” arguably the very best standalone “Thor” but.

“So much has happened since I last saw you,” Thor explains, having realized that his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) isn’t useless however somewhat posing as their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). The household squabble escalates when their older sister Hela, Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett), invades Asgard hoping to spark a cataclysmic superhero Armageddon generally known as “Ragnarok.”

Unfortunately for the Asgardians, Thor is helpless to cease Hela, having been sidelined and immobilized by boozy bounty hunter Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and imprisoned in a lethal gladiator enviornment run by The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). It’s right here that Thor is pitted in opposition to his outdated “frenemy” The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), cheered by legions of Hulkamaniacs. Can the Avengers make good and type a brand new staff of “Revengers” to take again Asgard? Heck yeah.

Jeff Goldblum is splendidly weird as The Grandmaster, transferring with quirky physique language, talking in incomplete sentences, and showing in big holograms to his individuals like Caesar on the Roman Colosseum. Imagine Joaquin Phoenix in “Gladiator” (2000) solely with Goldblum’s signature speech sample: “Are you not…uh…entertained? Is this not…uh…why you are here?”

As for the remainder of the solid, Cate Blanchett has a hella-good time as Hela, rivaling Angelina Jolie’s horned “Maleficent” (2014) together with her personal set of black antlers — “how wonderful.” Tom Hiddleston is deliciously mischievous as Loki, Idris Elba is a country revolutionary as Heimdall, and Tessa Thompson is badbad wielding weapons and chugging booze as Valkyrie. She’ll drink to the dregs, slap a taser in your neck, pump you with volts, wipe her mouth and keep on.

Still, the very best scenes come between Hemsworth’s Thor and Ruffalo’s Hulk, turning their bickering into laugh-out-loud banter with the kind of ball-busting that outdated buddies get pleasure from:

THOR: “We’re the same, you and I, just a couple of hot-headed fools.”

HULK: “Yeah, same. Hulk like fire. Thor like water.”

THOR: “Umm, we’re kind of both like fire.”

HULK: “Yeah but Hulk like raging fire, Thor like smoldering fire.”

Such banter marks a distinct course for Thor, which previously restricted its laughs to fish-out-of-water conditions. In “Ragnarok,” the comedy is extra akin to “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) with a Led Zeppelin “Immigrant Song” on an Awesome Mix-Tape. It might sound odd on paper, but it surely’s really a refreshing shift contemplating that is Thor’s fifth film in six years.

Hats off to director Taika Waititi, who burst onto the scene with the Oscar-nominated quick “Two Cars, One Night” (2004) earlier than profitable the Audience Award at AFI Fest with “Boy” (2010). In “Ragnarok,” he retains issues transferring with a number of intelligent creative thrives — comparable to following the angle of Thor’s hammer because it mows down baddies within the opening sequence. What’s extra, he makes a killer cameo because the rock creature Korg, who casually spits gallows humor.

If there’s something to nitpick it’s that the movie runs somewhat lengthy, constructing to a ultimate bridge battle filled with over-the-top CGI explosions and a Surtur savior of deus ex machina. Thankfully, screenwriters Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost mitigate this by establishing the fiery demon Surtur within the opening scene, in order that it fortunately doesn’t come out of nowhere.

Granted, quite a lot of components do come out of nowhere for those who haven’t seen the previous motion pictures, which has at all times been the flaw of the Marvel franchise. Characters come out of nowhere for cameos (i.e. Dr. Strange) solely to vanish for the remainder of the film. This scattershot model is, after all, a criticism in opposition to the general franchise system somewhat than something from this explicit film. In truth, given the constraints, the movie does a high-quality job of reinvention.

Amidst sure Armageddon, the movie finds a touching theme: Asgard is a individuals, not a spot. A superhero is an thought, not a cape, permitting Thor’s heroism to transcend his hammer. Thus, Korg diagnoses the purists: “Sounds like you had a pretty special and intimate relationship with this hammer and that losing it was almost comparable to losing a loved one.”

In different phrases, for those who’re upset on the hammerless change in course, behold Odin’s sarcasm: “What are you, Thor, god of hammers?” Face it: it’s time for the God of Thunderous Laughter.


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