Thor: Ragnarok Review (2017)

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The God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) is back in a new adventure and this time he’s brought his sense of humour along.

Thor: Ragnarok finds the Asgardian (or the strongest Avenger as he likes calling himself) in a spot of bother as he tries to stop Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, from destroying Asgard. Just to make things a little more difficult, Thor also gets himself stranded on the planet Sakaar, kidnapped by a strange woman known as Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson), and is forced to fight his former teammate, Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). All in all  a day’s work for the son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) I guess.

It’s an interesting framework that has Thor globe-trotting (um…galaxy-trotting?) across a variety of locales and one that, guided by the comedic stylings of director Taika Waititi, delivers one of the funniest and vibrant movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to date.

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Those who have seen Hunt for the Wilderpeople or What We Do in the Shadows will have a good idea of the kind of movie Thor: Ragnarok is. It’s full of the dry sardonic humour that Taika Waititi is known for and, as a New Zealander myself, a lot of the jokes hit close to home. The snappy dialogue full of snappy one-liners and snide remarks were delivered with impeccable comic timing from Hemsworth, Thompson, Ruffalo and even Loki (Tom Hiddleston) stepped in to deliver a zinger or two.

But Taika’s invigoration of the Thor series doesn’t just stop at witty repartee. His version of Asgard is the most lived in that we have ever seen, no longer a sterile CG creation but rather a place full of life  populated by Asgardians. The same goes for the planet Sakaar. A beautifully realised environment, it is just filled with colour and teaming with a diverse range of alien life, creating an exotic world that you would love to explore.

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Also getting a new breath of life is the Norse God himself, turning him from a brooding hunk of meat into a character that actually has a bit of a personality and charisma, a guy who seems like he would be fun at parties instead of a bit of a buzz-kill like he’s been portrayed in his previous movies. Hemsworth has shown that he has comedic chops before, and he exhibits them here in all their glory. Let’s hope that some of that gets carried on in future movies. This is his movie through and through, and I think it’s about time.

And while Hemsworth does a great job in whatever scene he’s in, new to the MCU Tessa Thompson is no slouch either. She easily trades barbs back and forth with Hemsworth, exuding strength and a bad-ass nature without even looking like she’s trying. She’s a worthy addition to Thor’s ranks that can stand toe-to-toe with the more established characters. Coupled with Blanchett, who struts about the screen with a slinky, seductive grace, chewing all the scenery around her, the women of Thor: Ragnarok are well served.

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As much as there is to praise about Thor, I did feel like Taika Waititi’s trademark humour was a bit of a double-edged sword, taking away the gravity of sequences that could have used a touch more earnestness. For a movie about the end of days, there was a lot of time spent on Sakaar focusing more on the buddy comedy aspect between Hulk and Thor and away from Asgard and its oncoming doom, which diminished the sense of urgency that should have been there.

There were also a few characters that felt like they over-stayed their welcome. Korg, an alien played by Waititi, got a few good laughs, but after a while he became a little over-used. He would have been a little more effective if they had trimmed his role down a bit. Karl Urban as Scourge didn’t fare too well either. His villainous turn was very one-note and could have easily been written out of the story.

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But those are the few gripes I had with the film. The dynamic aesthetic, sharp dialogue and well shot action sequences all culminated together to provide a great piece of entertainment. This is a film that deserves a re-watch just to take it all in. There are Easter eggs peppered throughout and a few surprise cameos that will definitely get you laughing.

I enjoyed the return of Thor Odinson, and I suspect that you will too. I give Thor: Ragnarok an 8 out of 10.

PS.  There is a mid-credit and end-credit scene so it pays to hang around till the end.

8.0 - Happy

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