Thor : Ragnarok – REVIEW

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.......their game of basketball would have been much improved if one of them had remembered to bring a basketball.......

For the most puerile of reasons we’re looking forward to the next Thor film after Ragnarok only so we can say, ‘Did you see Thor four? However Thor Ragnarok is the third in the franchise and after a blistering trailer and an acid coloured poster it’s clear that this is going to be different from its predecessors.

Starting off with Chris Hemsworth chained up as he faces off to a huge fiery demon who sets the story in motion warning Thor that Asgard will be decimated and razed to the ground and there’s nothing that Thor can do to stop.  In fact it’s looking pretty bad for Asgard because Odin (Anthony Hopkins all twinkly eyed knowing that he’s making another fortune from his second blockbuster this year after Transformers) himself is not long for that world either and with his demise Thor and his duplicitous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) find themselves now facing a hitherto unknown sister called Hela, the god of death  played by, a super sultry Cate Blanchett, wearing a giant hat rack on her head, returns to take over the throne.  Her powers far exceed Thor’s and in a not so subtle form of emasculation she crushes his hammer with one hand and banishes them from her world. It’s one of the more notable elements of this Thor that he goes for most of the film without his hammer and even gets a haircut which presumably must be a bit of market researching for all of Hemsworth’s female fans.

The chemistry between Hemsworth and Hiddleston as the bickering brothers is as on point as its always been and here they are well acquainted with what audiences want to see them do so Thor begins to trust him only to find Loki is as untrustworthy as ever but still having to help each other out when the chips are down. However both find themselves at the mercy of the Grandmaster, a somewhat camp looking Jeff Goldblum whose clothing budget doesn’t seem to have extended beyond a car boot sale. Goldblum brings his joyfully affected mannerism to the role of a man in charge of a world where, for entertainment he pits creature against creature or in the films show piece Thor against Hulk and what follows is a deliriously destructive bout of fighting. Hulk has not had the best PR in the Marvel films with two previous standalone films getting mixed reviews but here Mark Ruffalo continues to lend the beast man hybrid some pathos as his Hulk is both conflicted and frustrated with the situation he finds himself in but has developed to such a degree through the films that it must now be time for another solo outing for him. With so many Marvel films out inevitably characters drop in and out of each other’s films and here it’s Doctor Strange who pops up in an extended scene from a recent end credit sequence.

But inevitably it’s all building to the climatic smack down between Thor and his more powerful sister Hela so as to save his beloved Asgard and it’s as overblown as you might expect.

It s a credit to Marvel that , apart from the fallout with Edgar Wright over Antman, the company are keen to try out directors that are far from no obvious choices to helm their films and director Taika Waititi is certainly one from left field with a back ground in comedy which is very much to the fore here. Last year he gave us ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ a low key but endearingly hilarious film in which he had a cameo as an utterly insensitive church minster at a funeral and from that film he’s bought Sam Neill as well as Rachel House but he’s also cast himself, albeit as voice only, as Korg, a creature made entirely of rock and part of Grandmaster’s gladiatorial fighters. It’s a huge leap up from a low budget independent to a mega-budgeted blockbuster and Waititi handles it with aplomb and his comic fingerprints are all over this and arguably the comedy does sometimes undercut any dramatic tension. But sometimes the over sombre proceedings of some of these superhero films benefits massively from his quirky approach to the film because what we have here is, probably for many, the best Thor film yet.

And yes there is a mid credit and end credit scene …….

Here’s the trailer…….

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