Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – Taika Waititi

Marvel and Disney unveil their latest foray into the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with a new instalment in the Thor series. It’s loud, it’s fun, but lacking a bit of an emotional punch in its final act.

This time out Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been out travelling the cosmos, leaving both Earth and Asgard behind. However, when Odin (Anthony Hopkins) passes and his first born, Hela (Cate Blanchett), goddess of death, returns to wrest control of Asgard from Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) the hero finds himself on his most expansive journey yet, including fighting in gladiatorial games against his fellow Avenger, the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) – probably the closest we’ll ever get to a Planet Hulk story.

Working on a broader canvas this time around the film plays up its comedic elements a lot, and seems to insist on having a really fun time. After a few big screen adventures with Thor, it’s rather enjoyable to see the character let loose like this.

Ejected from Asgard, where Heimdall (Idis Elba) is attempting to lead a revolution against Hela and her ally Skurge (Karl Urban), Thor finds himself in service to the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) where he will be forced to fight, but finds unexpected allies in Hulk and a former Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson).

Set in a very Jack Kirby-esque world the comedic elements find their way to the fore this time in both dialogue and physical moments. Over the course of the MCU films the characters have become more and more like real people, eschewing more and more of the mealy-mouthed dialogue that works so well panel to panel in the comics to speak more and more like real people – even if that means they say dumb things now and then. This is not a surprise as a large portion of the film’s dialogue was improvised.

The film is determined to have a good time, and insists on bringing the audience along for it, rocking out to Zeppelin’s The Immigrant Song. However, the story is so set on having fun, that they don’t earn enough of an emotional investment in the story to make the final act as powerful as it could be (I was left wondering as the credits rolled about Hulk’s fate).

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Having said that, this is probably the most enjoyable of the Thor films, and lets Hemsworth take Thor in a new direction (and gives him a new look) and shows that the lead and his cast mates have a real talent for comedy.

Watch for some brilliant cameos, and not just the Stan Lee one. Matt Damon, Sam Neill and Hemsworth’s brother Luke make brilliant comedic appearances that had the audience roaring, and of course to firmly tie it into the MCU we get a brief interlude with Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange.

The film looks great, especially the alien planet Thor finds himself on. You can see Kirby’s influences everywhere. But Kirby’s influence isn’t the only one you can see on the film, it’s very obvious that the fun, playful and irreverent nature of the Guardians of the Galaxy has impacted other films in the MCU, and Thor Ragnarok is very evident of that.

Of course considering that director Waititi directed the brilliantly funny What We Do in the Shadows, it should come as a big surprise that the comedic side of the superhero world is brought to the fore.

It’s fun, loud, colourful, has some great moments, superhero landings, great production design, a very enjoyable score by Mark Mothersbaugh, nods to Thor’s Marvel history, and an insanely likeable cast.

Making a nice addition to the MCU and primes us for Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War in 2018, Thor: Ragnarok opens tomorrow!

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