Thor: Ragnarok
5 stars
Director: Taika Waititi
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett
Duration: 130 mins
Class: 12A
KRS Releasing Ltd

Thor: Ragnarok is the 17th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the third in the Thor canon. This movie, once more featuring the noble and solemn crown prince of Asgard, takes on a completely new approach, opting to really up the ante in terms of the comedy factor and humour.

Donning Thor’s cape and wielding his mighty hammer Mjolnir for the fifth time, Chris Hems­worth’s Thor has to face a heart-breaking loss � the appearance of a new nemesis Hela (Cate Blanchett), the goddess of death, who is hell-bent (emphasis on ‘hell’) on setting in motion the prophesied ‘Ragnarok’.

Ragnarok is a series of events leading up to the destruction of Thor’s homeland Asgard and its people. It’s up to Thor to try and stop her. But he faces a slight impediment... he is imprisoned on the planet Sakaar where his only means of escape is to survive a brutal and violent gladiatorial combat against an old friend.

Thor: Ragnarok is the most fun and by far the funniest of the Thor movies... and possibly the whole Marvel canon given the sombre tone the MCU has taken of late. The cracks in the Avengers’ Alliance that came to the fore in Captain America: Civil War is a case in point. In fact, this is pretty much a stand-alone story, leaving the issues faced by the alliance back on Earth. This one takes place in other realms, save for a short – also rather funny – sequence featuring another recent addition to the MCU.

That said, the story by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher L. Yost carries the Marvel torch of flowing narrative and strong cha­racterisation. Director Taika Wai­titi effortlessly binds the story’s dramatic and comedic elements together to marvellous effect.

Comes with breath­taking, gravity-defying, world-destroying and exceptionally rendered action sequences

For all the humour in the movie, Thor’s stories have always been about family - the complex relationship between him and his adoptive brother Loki, and the weight of responsibility Thor has to carry when his father Odin offers him the throne. That thread still runs through here… with new and unexpected revelations about his father’s past and their consequences on the events Thor is facing today. He has to step up to the plate to save his extended family in the Asgardian people.

Needless to say, the whole comes with a series of breath­taking, gravity-defying, world-destroying and overall exceptionally rendered action sequences, making for a brilliant ride with a superb ensemble for company.

Of the old hands, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki remains as charming and devious as ever. Although you know he will reluctantly fall on the right side of the divide, watching him make mischief remains a delight. Anthony Hopkins’ majestic Odin looms large over proceedings, although even the vete­ran actor gets to show off his comedy chops in his opening scene... a scene which also features a completely unexpected and side-splitting cameo by another Hollywood great.

Making her debut in a superhero movie, Cate Blanchett is clearly having a ball as villainess Hela. She is all clad in back and fired by vengeance at being locked away for millennia, un­leashing her wrath on Asgard in general and Thor in particular.

Jeff Goldblum hams it up to just the right degree as the colourful dictator of Sakaar, the Grandmaster. The tiny and compact Tessa Thompson belies her smallness as a fierce, no-nonsense warrior Valkyrie who puts Thor in his place more often than he’d care to admit. Waititi himself is also very funny as the drolly deadpan Korg, a hulking man made of rocks who Thor befriends on Sakaar.

Speaking of hulking, I found the main draw of the film to be the relationship between Thor and Hulk/Banner, which gives the two characters the chance to interact with one another more than they ever have before.

Both Hemsworth and Ruffalo find themselves both lightening up considerably with their entertaining and bromantic bickering from the moment they first meet in the gladiatorial arena. Thor is unsure whether to be afraid or relieved when he realises who his adversary is until the very end, with many, many moments of mirth in between.

Hemsworth’s expression on seeing Hulk in the buff is priceless. The actor succeeds in incorporating this new, funny Thor with the momentousness of the events. He is fighting for his homeland after all. Ruffalo’s ruffled befuddled genius Banner is as warm and delightful as Hulk’s green bulk is alarming.

In summary, Thor: Ragnarok ro(c)ks.

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