Thursday, 26 October 2017
Review: Thor: Ragnarok (UK Cert 12A)
The God of Thunder is back in his third solo film, this one directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows, Hunt For The Wilderpeople)
When Hela, the Goddess of Death, rises and takes over Asgard, Thor finds himself on the distant planet of Sakaar. Imprisoned and forced to fight in a gladiatorial arena, Thor must find his way back to Asgard to face Hela and prevent the end of days- Ragnarok- from happening...
Tonally, it's very different from the other Thor films- indeed, tonally different to most other MCU films if I'm honest. Whilst the original had an almost Shakespearean feel to it (thanks to director Kenneth Branagh), and the second had a Game Of Thrones aesthetic (thanks to director Alan Taylor), Thor: Ragnarok is a synth-soaked, buddy-comedy, end-of-the-world extravaganza.
Moreover, it's funny. Like, properly laugh-out-loud funny. The other Thor films have suffered a little from being a bit too strait-laced, a bit po-faced- which seems ridiculous when you're dealing with an outlandish story of gods and monsters. Here, the humour comes thick and fast- but not at the expense of anything else. There's a fine balance between this humour and the more dramatic elements and the incredibly well choreographed fight scenes.
Chris Hemsworth is as good as ever as Thor; he's got that cocky but charming act down to a tee. Tom Hiddleston is similarly at home in Loki- again, a charming but utterly dangerous being. As always, their fractious relationship- part sibling rivalry, part best buds- forms a cornerstone of the film. Anthony Hopkins really earns his 'and' credit, with a total of about five minutes on screen- but he's superb when he is. Idris Elba gets more to do as Heimdall this time round- removed from his role as gatekeeper for the Bifrost, he acts as a resistance leader trying to save the Asgardians from Hela's undead army.
Mark Ruffalo is great as Banner/Hulk and brings an extra dimension to the role. He's been Hulk for two years (since he skipped off at the end of Avengers: Age Of Ultron) and has found himself on Sakaar as the Grandmaster's champion. There's a great deal of confusion when he turns back into Banner and is afraid of the change, that he'll lose himself if he Hulks out again. He has great rapport with Chris Hemsworth, which forms part of the buddy-comedy strand. Benedict Cumberbatch's brief appearance as Doctor Strange may not be strictly needed, but it's fun to see them interact (especially after the hidden scene at the end of Doctor Strange)
Of the new members of the cast, no complaints at all. Cate Blanchett is utterly superb as Hela; I honestly can't imagine any other actress doing the role as well as she does. From her very first entrance into the film- and what an entrance it is- she commands the screen every time she's on it. While the MCU tends to have a bit of an issue with its villains (in that they're either not very good or not drawn out well), Hela is a rounded and very credible threat. Once again, Blanchett shows that's she's one of the best actresses working in Hollywood today.
Tessa Thompson (Creed) is great as Valkyrie, a drunken scavenger when we first meet her (as she captures and brings Thor to the Grandmaster) but is revealed to be the last of the great warrior women race- previously decimated by Hela. Her relationship with Thor is great; luckily, they eschew any obviously romantic overtures for something more like friendship.
Jeff Goldblum is just magnificent as the Grandmaster, the ruler of Sakaar. A mercurial, kooky, but ruthless leader, he pits creatures against one another in his Contest of Champions. Again, I can't really imagine anyone else in the role. Karl Urban is great as Skurge, a rough Asgardian warrior with a Cockney accent who takes Heimdall's role as gatekeeper of the Bifrost and becomes a conflicted ally of Hela's. Finally, director Waititi also voices Korg, a blue alien rock being that Thor meets on Sakaar and becomes friends with and who is seriously one of the best characters in the film.
Thor: Ragnarok was excellent. Whilst the film is 130 miuntes long, it never once felt like it. Fun, bright, brilliant. Simply put, another triumph for Marvel.
Rating: 5 out of 5