Reviews: end of days – Thor deals with Ragnarok
Directed by Taika Waititi,
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo
Thor returns for his third solo adventure. As Surtur is planning the end of Asgard, known as Ragnarok, Thor finds out that Loki has replaced Odin on the throne of Asgard. The hunt to find their father leads them to find out that they also have an unknown family member, Hela, who had helped Odin to conquer the nine realms. Her thirst for power led Odin to trap her away. Now she’s back to take over their world, and she can easily match Thor and Loki. During their escape the two brothers are thrown into the path of the Grandmaster. Old friends and new friends join the adventure.
Last year one of my top films of the year was the amazing The Hunt for the Wilderpeople. It was one of those films that crept out of nowhere to just instantly entertain me. When I heard that the director, Taika Waititi (who also brought us the brilliant Kiwi vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows) was going to step behind the camera for the next Thor adventure, I was instantly like a child the night before Christmas, and couldn’t wait for the film. The run of Marvel films lately have been lacking a bit for me; I’m probably in the minority there, but I have felt that some of the previous Marvel Universe films have been more focused on their own coolness rather than developing story. The exception was Homecoming and I’m giving Sony credit for that one.
What sets Ragnarok apart from the other films is that the comedy and action and drama are all perfectly balanced. I laughed through the film, and when the fighting began my blood started to pump. Everyone that has a pulse and knows about the Thor movies knows that The Hulk was going to be a major part of this film, and he is – the fight scene between the two is exhilarating and fun to behold.
What sets this up, apart from the captivating script and the stunning visuals, is that the cast are all clearly enjoying themselves in their roles. Chris Hemsworth seems to be happy in the role, more so than any of the others, and Tom Hiddleston has that enjoyment on his face from playing Loki that was missing from the second film. Benedict Cumberbatch returns briefly to play Doctor Strange and Mark Ruffalo is back as The Hulk/Bruce Banner. Cate Blanchett stars as Hela, the villain of the piece, and you can see the absolute joy that she has in hamming it up with the evil queen part, but it’s that good Parma ham, not the cheap tinned ham. She is more than a match for the boys, and the armies of Asgard and takes no prisoners.
There are two roles that really stood out for me. The first was Karl Urban as Skurge, the new keeper of the gates. Urban is already one of those actors that doesn’t get used enough, but this should make people take a bigger note of his talents. But the winner of the scene stealing award 2017 has to go to Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster. His role is once again brief but works; like Trigger in Only Fools and Horses, there is just enough that the character is instantly in your mind as someone you are going to remember. His Trump-like performance should go down as a highlight of the film.
There is a feeling that the film wants to walk the line of The Lord of the Rings and the hero universe that Marvel are creating, but you don’t care. I sat there with a smile on my face and nodded along with the music and the fighting. I laughed and I punched the air as the action blended into the comedy, which then blended into the drama. I cannot use the term a perfect movie, as there are some flaws, which I and you won’t care about while watching this again, but this is as near to a perfect Marvel movie as we are going to get, and it’s going to inspire me to read more Thor comics. Marvel and Disney need to keep up with changing how they present their heroes; the synth based background music was another addition that few creative teams would have taken the chance on, and that is what I LOVED about Thor: Ragnarok. They took chances and they paid off. I’m going to watch this time and time again, it’s now number one on my Marvel Movies List.