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Dan's Review: "Thor: Ragnarok" a welcome comedic detour from the Marvel Universe

Nov 02, 2017 11:42PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, and Tessa Thompson in Thor: Ragnarok - © 2017 Disney/Marvel.

Thor: Ragnarok (Disney/Marvel)

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material.

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Tadanobu Asano, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Benedict Cumberbatch, Scarlett Johansson, Rachel House, Luke Hemsworth, Charlotte Nicdao, Sam Neill, Matt Damon, Clancy Brown (voice).

Written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost.

Directed by Taika Waititi.

GRADE: A-

REVIEW:

It’s tough to keep up with the all the continually expanding minutiae of the Marvel Universe these days. Thor: Ragnarok represents the SEVENTEENTH film installment in the franchise, and I’m leaving the broadcast TV and online streaming stuff out of the picture. Special “Marvelpedia” software or multi-volume reference books may be required to cover the vast and varying story lines since Iron Man blasted onto screens in 2008. It seems the movies are trying to match the complex depth and breadth of the comic books that inspired them, and maybe that’s a good thing – maybe it’s not. Oversaturated or not, Thor is back with his very own (and unique) standalone film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Chris Hemsworth reprises his role as Thor, son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and the “God of Thunder.” His story pick up a few years after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron (don’t ask) as he hunts down the massive, horned warlord Surtur, who informs him that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is not dead (as we found out in the last Thor movie…again, don’t ask) and is impersonating Odin back in their home realm of Asgard. Understandably upset with the news, he sets back to Asgard and confronts Loki, who confesses that he left dear old dad in a rest home on Earth. The pair travel back to Earth and discover the rest home is no longer there, but with a little help from Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) they are transported to a Norse Cliffside where Odin reveal that they have a sister named Hela (Cate Blanchett), who was exiled from Asgard because she couldn’t adapt to Odin’s peaceful ways. Hela soon appears, ushering in a foretold Asgardian prophecy known as “Ragnarok,” or an event that will result in the utter destruction of Asgard. When they confront Hela, Thor and Loki are sucked into the “Bifrost” (realm time/space transportation highway) she ends up on Asgard, while the two half-brothers are plopped onto Sakaar, a planet ruled by “Grandmaster” (Jeff Goldblum) where all the space junk is deposited. Grandmaster’s greatest love is staging gladiator battles between worthy competitors and his champion (not really spoiling anything, am I?) The Incredible Hulk, a.k.a. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), who took his own trip into the outer realms after ditching the Avengers during that whole “Ultron” affair (again, don’t ask).

I’ll fast forward: Thor, Loki and Banner eventually team up with another Asgardian living on Sakaar named “Valkyrie” (Tessa Thompson) to head back to Asgard to confront Hela and her evil minions. They also recruit Heimdall (Idris Elba) to their cause for a grand battle that comes with certain doom for Asgard.

Thor: Ragnarok is an extremely fun film, to the point is becomes more of a comedy than a superhero action-adventure. It’s more in line with the Guardians of the Galaxy branch of the MCU than the more serious and foreboding Avengers strain. The laughs come often and easily, leaning on a lot of inside jokes, especially if you’ve been keeping up on your MCU series. The action keeps going at relentless speed, offering little pause for any kind of poetic reflection. The fast pace gets in the way of any kind of closure regarding the sudden deaths of Thor’s old warrior pals, or anyone else who falls to Hela’s wrath. New Zealander Director Taika Waititi’s irreverent take on Thor is a definite departure to the slow-paced gloom of previous Thor installments; a resounding rejection of Kenneth Branagh’s original concept.

Hemsworth, Hiddleston, Ruffalo and the rest of the cast are adept at delivering all that comedy mixed with action, along with the new parts of the team, especially Jeff Goldblum, whose dry wit steals every scene he’s in. Blanchett is equally brilliant as the heavy, giving us a villain with a sense of sadistic humor. Another standout character is Korg (motion captured and voiced by Waititi), a rock-creature of sorts who serves up even more humor.

With all its camp and silly moods, Thor: Ragnarok is a unique outlier in the MCU. That’s a good thing if you were growing tired of the Asgardian soap opera of the first two Thor films, but perhaps a little too ridiculous to fit into the final lead up to the MCU grand finale (coming six or seven movies down the road, at present).

If you’re up for a little escapism, even from the heavy-laden MCU, Thor: Ragnarok is right up in your realm.


Thor: Ragarok Trailer

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