We’ve become accustomed to seeing a superhero movie released every couple of months, but here’s something you certainly don’t see very OFTEN…..a superhero movie draped in silliness.
For Marvel, it works. At least, with THIS crew it does.
‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is witty, weird and colorful enough to playfully launch itself past the dark material that often seeps into this neighborhood. (Granted, Marvel is usually intelligent enough to inject at least a wee bit of tongue-in-cheek in their outings, a la ‘Spider Man: Homecoming’….DC Comics hasn’t quite figured out how to turn that frown upside down yet.) New Zealand’s Taika Waititi inherits the director’s chair for this sequel, and while Kenneth Branagh, who helmed the first ‘Thor’ did a decent job in transferring the character off the comic book pages and on to the big screen, Waititi REALLY gets it. This stuff is supposed to be fun – and be assured, this film is a blast.
The plot has Thor (Chris Hemsworth) trying to save his home planet of Asgard from his evil sister (Cate Blanchett), whose existence has – thus far – been unknown to him. His slippery brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is still in the mix, making this one firecracker of a family feud. Blanchett is a pretty cool villain too, sporting battle headgear that looks sort of like antlers. Effective, but really, really peculiar. Par for the course for ‘Ragnorak’.
Thor and Loki end up on a trashy, Vegas-ish planet that feels like the early 80’s, both visually and in spirit, reigned over by the goofy, arrogant Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). A diva-tyrant, the Grandmaster dubs Thor ‘Sparkles’ (y’know, ’cause of that lightning-coming-out-of-the-hand trick), chops off his golden locks, and tosses him in a gladiator-like arena to do battle with his planet’s ‘champion’, who turns out to be the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) – the result of THAT churning out some of the best few minutes in the brief history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As an appetizer for the next ‘Avengers’ blockbuster, the team really could’ve phoned this one in and still made bank. But so inspired and so giddy is ‘Thor: Ragnorak’, it sets an odd kind of bar for the next Marvel sequel – but the high mark is more lighthearted than its ever been!