Returning from an eternity of banishment, Hela the Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett) invades Asgard, wipes out its armies , and declares herself Queen of the Nine Realms. The only one who can stop her is Thor (Chris Hemsworth) -who unfortunately gets his arse royally kicked early on, loses his hammer and is blasted to the farthest reaches of the universe. There he finds himself on the the junk planet of Sakaar, where he is imprisoned by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) and forced to fight as a gladiator in its legendary fighting area. Obviously having none of this he plots his escape with the help of Loki (Tom Hiddleston), a half sozzled bounty hunter called Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and an extremely reluctant Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Its now a race against time to defeat Hela and prevent the coming of Ragnarok – an all destroying apocalyptic event from the annals of Norse mythology.
Of all the characters in the MCU, i have to say that Thor is my favorite. I cant quite put my finger on it but i think its because he has the best and most interesting character arc . Starting off as a spoilt, warmongering loudmouth, he evolved into a rather noble and lovable hero, who, despite being virtually indestructible (and having the best costume), always seemed to be the victim of any number of jokes and pratfalls – which usually involved Tony Stark’s merciless piss taking (“doth Mother know you weareth her drapes?”), getting beaten up by the Hulk (that legendary sideswipe thump in The Avengers) or as in this film -being hilariously electrocuted multiple times over.
In addition the character has been effortlessly brought to life by the very charismatic and seemingly granite hewn Chris Hemsworth who appears born to play the part. However its always been that Thor has consistently seemed a bit overshadowed by the likes of Iron Man, Captain America and The Hulk. So I am happy to report that not only is Ragnarok the best Thor film , its also the best individual MCU character film in the expanded universe -and whilst not quite scaling the lofty heights of 2012’s The Avengers, it comes very very close.
So why is it so good?
To begin with the design and look of the movie is extremely impressive – very much in the vein of Flash Gordon with lots of bright colours , giving it a very 80’s vibe. This is also helped no end by Mark Mothersbaugh’s retro synth score, which in any other film would have seemed out of place but somehow manages to work really well here
Its also seriously action packed – the highlights being a fantastic Thor vs Hulk fight and a humongous climactic battle on the Bifrost bridge which makes such great use of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant song you will be hard pressed not to stand up and cheer.
Performance wise its absolutely pitch perfect – Hemsworth as Thor has never better, very funny when he needs to be and exuding charisma by the bucket load, Hiddleston effortlessly rules the screen again as Loki , Ruffalo is really good as Hulk/Banner and has now properly made the role his own, plus Tessa Thompson is great as Valkyrie. Only Cate Blanchett falls a bit short as Hela – she’s not bad but is a tad forgettable in a one note role that once again shows Marvel’s shortcomings in the villain department.
However what makes Thor Ragnarok so enjoyable is the fact that the whole enterprise is just so damned hilarious. This is principally down to New Zealand director Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows) who brings a completely mad streak of humor to proceedings which, whilst never overshadowing the the film, brilliantly manages to elevate it to hitherto untapped levels ofunadulterated lunacy, the likes of which have never been seen in the MCU so far.
To be honest I could cite any number of examples- an utterly mental scene featuring a very famous actor impersonating Loki, another is the character of Korg – an over-sized alien made of stone ( voiced by and motion captured by Waititi) who explains to Thor that he is a prisoner on Sakaar because he started a failed revolution where only his mum and her boyfriend turned up. Then there’s a gut bustingly funny bit featuring a pleading and panicking Thor about to get his hair cut off by a rather doddery looking Stan Lee. Plus if that wasn’t enough we get Jeff Goldblum -(basically being Jeff Goldblum) clearly having a ball and stealing every scene he’s in as the very effete and really weird Grandmaster. I could say more but i don’t want to spoil what i guarantee is going to be one of the best nights at the movies you are going to have this year – yes folks its that good.
So there we have it – another Marvel triumph, the second best entry in the expanded universe and one of the most entertaining films ive seen in years .
I have to say you really have to take your hat off to Marvel studio head Kevin Feige – so far everydecision he has made for the MCU has been a stroke sheer genius – the guy has ethier sold his soul the devil or he really is that talented – whatever the truth, with Justice League due for release next month i’ll bet Snyder, Affleck and all the execs at DC are absolutely crapping themselves right about now.
Author: Will Strong aka Grosse Point Geek