Sunday, November 5, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok will (re)introduce fanboy-metal heads to Led Zeppelin's screeching opus Immigrant Song (1970) in a new but not necessarily unrelated context. Kiwi director Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) takes the sword 'n' sandal aesthetic that's always been part of Thor's Marvel mythology (and Zeppelin's more fantastical compositions) and blended it with time and space travel, netherworld apocalypse and sibling rivalry -- all to a headbanger score and a laugh track.... (More on that in a minute) In this film, Chris Hemsworth's Thor is reunited with two of his favorite sparring partners -- Tom Hiddleston's Loki (Thor's adopted brother and eternal foil) and Mark Ruffalo's Hulk on a planet that stages gladiatorial contests between prisoners. The meetings, like much of this film, are played for laughs -- and the broader the better. Jeff Goldblum, a veteran actor with Swiss watch comedic timing, is a scream as the Grandmaster of the games. The villain(ess) for this edition is a scene-chewing Cate Blanchett as Hela, sister to Thor and Loki and goddess of death, a title she takes most seriously. The siblings reunion is brought about by the passing of Asgardian king Odin (Anthony Hopkins), who had imprisoned Hela for showing too much gusto in her work. Now she's back and ready to claim what's hers, i.e., all life in all realms of existence. Joining Thor, Loki and Hulk is a besotted Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), who adds a fresh level of spice to the heroic concoction. Much has been written about the comic tone of this film, and it's undeniable, but I think film promoters and early reviewers may have primed the pump a bit much. Most of the laughs are honestly earned, a good many are forced and there are a few that, to me, were too shticky for the proceedings. Still, audience members at the screening I attended were laughing from credits to credits. Fans will love Thor: Ragnarok and it will make everyone involved with it even richer than they already are.


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