movies: thor - ragnarok

thor: ragnarok - no hammer, no problem
Thor, God of Thunder is back... and he's bringing with him Ragnarok... the end of things. And damn, but Thor: Ragnarok is one hell of a ride.

We're not stuck on Earth, or Asgard... and there are no dark brooding elves... no... this movie is bright and bold and brash and bubblegum and pulling it's inspirations from the 70's and 80's. And doing a damn good job.

Director Taika Waititi has managed to create the ultimate Marvel movie... it's fun, light, full of action and doesn't take itself too seriously. I feel like part of why it works (if something I read online is to be believed) is that Waititi had the actors improvise about 80% of the dialogue... and it shows, in the best possible way.

Everything seems real and the humour often doesn't feel like it's something that's been workshopped and refined, but genuine moments. And yes, it lacks the heartfelt moment that some of the other Marvel movies have had (I'm thinking mostly of either of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, since they've mixed pathos and humour the best of all the Marvel movies), but that's not what this movie is... it's a big, bold, fantasy action movie, and it does that exceptionally well.

Returning, naturally, is Chris Hemsworth as the titular thunder god, and even the new haircut (which appears towards the start of the second act I think) makes sense here... this is Thor stripped back to basics and as much of the theme of this movie seems to be, shedding the old in place of the new. Also, Hemsworth looks the best he's ever looked at Thor in this movie... I mean, there's only one shirtless scene, but the man looks impossible... amazing, but clearly impossible for mere mortals to achieve.

Joining him once again is Tom Hiddleston as the trickster Loki... and this is possibly Hiddleston's best turn as Loki. Again, I think it's because the humour is dialled way up, and the best Loki moments are actually those fun, playing, teasing moments.

Also visiting from the wider Marvel universe is Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk... and honestly, mostly Hulk and not Banner. It's fun actually getting to know the big green guy this time around, yes, he's a giant toddler having a temper tantrum, but he's fun (again, I just keep coming back to that word). And the CGI on Hulk are just amazing. Yes, you've kind of, sort of been able to see Ruffalo in there in the two Avenger movies, but this time, he's so clearly 100% there under the green, it's kind of spectacular.

There's no Natalie Portman and Co this time around... apparently she dumped Thor (I'd say spoilers, but they throw it out within about the first 20 minutes), and I'm actually okay with all of that. Like I mentioned before, this movie is about shedding the old and reinventing what comes next.

Taking the villain's chair this time around is Cate Blanchett as Hela (in this incarnation of the mythology, spoilers, Odin's first born... but still the goddess of death)... and Blanchett is just having THE BEST TIME with this. I will reiterate my usual complaint that the Marvel villains often feel somewhat toothless, and Hela suffers from that as well (although given the body count in this movie, she shouldn't... but still manages to), but I don't quite know how you balance an unsettling or creepy villain with the light tone of these movies.

My favourite moment is when Hela is talking to her lackey, Scourge (played incredibly well by Karl Urban) in the throne room of Asgard... everything about her body language and tone and their back and forth dialogue is what makes this an engaging movie. The interaction itself isn't something we've never seen before, but the way the two of them do it makes it worth watching.

Returning from the previous Thor movies is Idris Elba as Heimdall, who, out of everyone is the only one really making the movie that was presented on the page. Which isn't to say he's bad, because he's not... but he's making a much more serious movie, which completely works for the character and his scenes, and never threw me out of the moment while watching, but he's the stakes. He represents what really going on and what Thor ultimately needs to get back to and focus on.

The other new face is Tessa Thompson who seems to have made a career out of playing strong willed, but sometimes not totally likeable, women (I'm looking at you both Veronica Mars and Westworld as the two characters I'm most familiar with). And she does that here as Valkyrie to some degree, but I quite like her character here. And she's no so much unlikable as she is complicated, which is fun to unpack.

Also deserving of a mention is Rachel House who did the voice of the grandmother in Moana as the second in command to Jeff Goldblum's character (yes, Goldblum is also in this, having the time of his life, just doing whatever the hell he wants really)... but back to House... her character, Topaz, is just so dry and funny and bitchy... not to mention looking like she's ready to kick all the butt and take all the names. I loved every scene she was in, I'm not going to lie.

As I think I've mentioned multiple times now, this movie is bright and colourful... I think this even our sparkles either of the Guardians movies to be honest, and it was nice to see an alien/future city where the buildings aren't either a) all the same colour or b) all grey/white/silver/gold/blue.

And for the most part, the effects are amazing. Possibly the only bit that didn't quite look "right" was the giant wolf, Fenrir... I mean it looked pretty damn good... it just didn't look 100% believable... and this is in a movie with a guy made out of rocks, and spaceships. It's a minor nitpick to be honest, but it's still there.

The music is also amazing... with the most brilliant uses of Led Zeppelin's The Immigrant Song (you know, the AH-AH-AHHHHHHHH-AH.... AH-AH-AHHHHHHHH-AH song), and something called In the Face of Evil by Magic Sword... which made me think very strongly of the Stranger Things title song during the movie, there's a synth thing going on certainly which carries over to the score itself (so maybe it was part of that instead).

At the moment I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is my favourite Marvel movie to date.

And as a final note, and a slightly spoilery one at that... pay particular attention during the "play" being performed when Thor returns to Asgard for the first time... the actors playing Loki, Odin and Thor are Matt Damon, Sam Neill and Luke Hemsworth respectively.

yani's rating: 5 undead warriors out of 5

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