So how was Thor: Ragnarok? It was… strange but good.
The early buzz for the third Thor flick by Marvel has been unanimously good, so I did enter the theatre with expectations – I was by no means without skepticism thanks to the previous outings which I found redeemed only by the charismatic performance of Tom Hiddleston as Loki.
So is Thor: Ragnarok the joyride we were promised by the trailers. Yes, it is.
After Hela (Cate Blanchett), Goddess of death and eccentric headgear, is released from her prison she quickly dispatches Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his mischievous sibling Loki, claiming Asgard as her own. Our beefcake blond hero finds himself enslaved in a gladiatorial arena on the trash-planet Sakaar where he is forced to battle fellow Avenger and friend, the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
What follows is a pretty typical hero’s journey scenario in which Thor must make his way home and prevent Ragnarok – which, if you know your Norse mythology, is basically the end of everything.
Act one zooms about wrapping up strands left from previous movies and orienting itself in the grander scheme of the Marvel cinematic universe. Act two is a kind of futuristic 80’s version of ancient Rome explored through the lens of a buddy comedy and Act three, as always, is the massive showdown.
It’s disjointed, but that’s it’s strength – Thor, as a character and a franchise, has stopped taking himself/itself so seriously. By embracing the silliness the movie has more room to breathe; instead of dumbing down the more ridiculous elements to fit into a stuffier mould we’re allowed to actually explore and enjoy them in all of their suspension-of-disbelief-defying colour and glory.
It is at its heart an action-comedy which will be a refreshing turn for fans of Guardians of the Galaxy, but possibly a deal breaker for die-hard Thor enthusiasts.
While Thor isn’t bursting with pathos as some of the other Marvel offerings, the film manages to land a couple of moments amidst the action; resolving a lot of Thor’s emotional journey up to this point.
Not every joke lands but those that do will have you grinning ear to ear – the scenes with Hulk/Bruce Banner and Thor are particularly amusing and obviously anytime Tom Hiddleston appears onscreen you’ll find your pants charmed right off.
Antagonist-wise the Marvel Universe sees its first female supervillain take the role of primary antagonist – Hela is a sultry and fantastic villain with her own share of pithy one-liners contrasted amusingly by Jeff Goldblum as secondary antagonist the Grandmaster; he’s right at home playing an evil space-version of Julius Caesar.
Thor: Ragnarok is the best of all three Thor films and an entertaining joyride pulsating with action and nostalgic synth – feast on it with your peepers and for 2 hours let the woes of Midgard melt away.
Thor: Ragnarok is directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and opens nationwide on Friday 27 October.