Director(s): Taika Waititi
Writer(s): Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher L. Yost
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, Taika Waititi, Rachel House, Clancy Brown, Tadanobu Asano, Ray Stevenson and Zachary Levi
Reviewed by: Ian Evans on
Release Date(s)Nov 3, 2017 - Wide
It’s only fitting that when Thor (Chris Hemsworth) first battles the fire-breathing Surtur in Thor: Ragnarok he does it with his banter and not his brawn. Director Taika Waititi’s vision for this film has our Norse god hero trading quips with a variety of friends and foes, putting us in a superhero film where we want to get past the necessary action scenes to get back to the comedic interactions.
Thor returns to his home planet of Asgard to discover that his mischievous rival, brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), is the least of his problems. An apocalyptic event called Ragnarok is about to be unleashed by his previously unknown sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), Goddess of Death. It seems the peace Odin (Anthony Hopkins) brought to the realms was the result of a lot of blood, seat and tears – with the emphasis on the blood – and daughter Hela did a lot of the dirty work for him until he saw her as a threat and banished her. Sibling battles ensue and Thor ends up on the garbage planet of Sakaar where he is captured by the bounty hunter Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson), a hard drinking Valkyrie who finds gladiators for the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), a crazy, hedonistic Elder of the Universe who also likes to DJ. Along the way, Thor finds his Avengers buddy, the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and has to deal with their friendship. No, seriously. Or, actually, unseriously.
So the plot is the perfect mash of Norse mythology and Marvel Universe galactic hijinks. The journey though isn’t as important as the interactions that happen along the way. Screenwriters Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher L. Yost give us plenty of humor as Thor navigates his way through multiple worlds and situations. Thor and Loki are the two battling brothers whose sibling rivalry has huge consequences but still relies on “But Thor did it, not me!” boyish protests that make it a Bob Hope Crosby Road to Asgard flick. Goldblum shines as the Grandmaster. Imagine a top sketch artist doing a weird Jeff Goldblum impersonation and then realize that Jeff Goldblum is the perfect guy to do it. I’d pay to see a separate Grandmaster flick, and at the speed the Marvel Cinematic Universe is expanding, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one. Along the way it also turns into a buddy movie starring Thor and the Hulk/Bruce Banner.
The women are strong warriors. Hela trashes Asgard and her brothers and barely breaks a sweat. Blanchett takes what could be just a scenery-chewing villain role and adds a gravitas to it borne out of her character’s family dynamics. Thompson’s former Valkyrie is a bad-ass too with an attitude and appetite for alcohol to match I hope we get to see both in future Marvel films.
I said this about Avengers: Age of Ultron and I’ll say it again. Sometimes it seems like the action sequences move almost too fast to enjoy, almost like you can’t comprehend exactly what’s happening. However in this film it’s not so much of a problem because as I wrote earlier, you want to get past the action and get back to the interaction.
Big laughs, heart-pounding action and Norse mythology. Who could ask for anything more?