THOR: RAGNAROK (USA/12A/130mins)
Directed by Taika Waititi. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson.
THE PLOT: When Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, rises and sets her sights on Asgard, it is up to Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to defend his home from this new threat. When he gets lost along the way, however, Thor finds himself having to face an old friend before he can make his way back home.
THE VERDICT: Although there have already been four films in phase three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – ‘Captain America: Civil War’, ‘Doctor Strange’, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2’ and ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ – ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is the first MCU film in a long time that feels as innovative and fun as the films from the first phase; largely down to Taika Waititi at the helm.
Familiar faces are back for this new instalment of Thor’s story, including Anthony Hopkins, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Idris Elba. They are joined by some new and exciting casting choices, including Cate Blanchett as Hela, Tessa Thompson as a kick ass Valkyrie, Rachel House, Karl Urban and in perhaps the most exciting and fun casting choice, Jeff Goldblum as Grand Master. All of the cast seem to be having a great time with Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost’s screenplay, and there is a lovely contrast between the shades of evil played by Blanchett and Goldblum, as well as tons of humour, lots of heart and a great adventure at the film’s heart. Goldblum and Hiddleston are a great pairing on screen, and Cate Blanchett brings the terror as a vengeful goddess out for revenge.
As mentioned, Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost’s screenplay is a delight on screen; the story is a great adventure that allows the cast to have fun, but there are plenty of emotional hits, comedic moments and kick ass fight scenes. Taika Waititi sprinkles the screenplay with his trademark humour and awkward honesty, which gives the film a feeling of cohesion and heart that has been lacking in many of the recent MCU outings.
As director, Taika Waititi takes the Marvel formula and makes it is his own, blending humour and heart, fights and fun throughout the film. Waititi’s skill at comic timing and allowing the audience to root for the characters – as so beautifully shown off in ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ is – on full display throughout ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, and this, as well as the 80s inspired soundtrack, the neon feel of the world that Grand Master inhabits makes the film feel exciting in a way we haven’t seen in a while. This feel dissipates slightly through the final act of the film, however, which falls back into familiar Marvel ground, and although the use of “Immigrant Song” feels inspired – if slightly obvious – the first time, it begins to grate the second.
In all however, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is a fun, brightly coloured, funny and kick-ass adventure with plenty of familiar faces and some exciting new ones. Blanchett and Goldblum are wonderful additions to the world of Thor, while Hiddleston and Hemsworth are the best they have ever been in their well worn roles. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2’ went some way to refreshing the MCU, but ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is bright, sparkling and entertaining, while carefully setting up Infinity War along the way.
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    At a time when Disney is spooked by the initially comedic tone of the upcoming Han Solo film (resulting in the co-directors being fired), it’s refreshing to come across another Disney tentpole film, Thor: Ragnarok, which embraces its good-natured humour with open hands. However, is this third Thor film all that it seems?

    We find Asgardian God Of Thunder Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in a bit of a pickle at first, negotiating with a fiery demon. Later on, he’s captured by Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and is sent by local ruler Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) to an arena to face off against an immense enemy / friend. His constantly unreliable half-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is very much alive and is still causing mischief too. Meanwhile back in Asgard their sister Hela, the Goddess Of Death, has returned to reclaim the throne from Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and possibly start Ragnarok, the end of days. She’s power-crazed and hell-bent on domination. She won’t be easy to defeat either. Thor will need all the help he can get – from local rebels to Heimdall (Idris Elba) and, if he can control him, Hulk / Bruce Banner…

    The key ingredient in Thor: Ragnarok is not the returning cast or even the superheroes themselves. That honour has to go to Kiwi director Taika Waititi. He’s been steadily building up an impressive body of work, including the hilarious vampire mock-doc What We Do In The Shadows and one of last year’s finest films, Hunt For The Wilderpeople. Given Marvel’s inclination to inject regular humour into the Thor films, Waititi is a natural fit here. It’s a more obvious fit than, say, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Alien: Resurrection. Waititi ups the humour quotient quite a bit, poking fun at the supposedly all-powerful Thor at every opportunity. The funniest character is alien Korg, voiced by Waititi himself. He brings a laid-back Kiwi charm and pretty much steals the film. In fact, quite a few of Waititi’s repertory group of actors can be spotted here.

    That said though, the humour does tend to take over in favour of moving the story forward to its final confrontation. Of which, there isn’t much to say – it’s a bit of a letdown. Blanchett is built up to be such a big bad early on, but then she disappears for a large chunk of the film. It’s as if the film is just waiting to get to this scene, but has sidelined her in order to add more characters and cameos into the mix. Maybe there’s just too much going on – something which Marvel are usually able to handle with ease. Blanchett has a ball with her deliciously evil bad girl – it’s just a shame that there isn’t more of her. Why cast a top-notch actor like Blanchett and then underuse her? More time between her, Thor and Loki wouldn’t have gone amiss.

    There’s still plenty of riotous action, great dialogue and a none-more-Goldblum appearance. It looks and sounds great too, with an 80s Flash Gordon-style vibe (already hinted at in the hilarious 1987-style trailer). Despite some problems with the pacing and the underuse of Blanchett, Thor: Ragnarok is still a lot of fun. For this reviewer anyway, the first Thor film is still the one to beat. ***