Sunday, 29 October 2017

#86 & 87 THOR: RAGNAROK


Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum,  Karl Urban, Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins. Written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost. Directed by Taika Waititi. Budget $180 million. Running time 130 minutes. Cert 12a.

The story sees a hammer-less Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his half-brother Loki (Chris Hiddleston) marooned on the trash planet Sakaar by their deliciously psychotic big sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) following the death of Thor's dad, Odin (Anthony Hopkins). It transpires that big sis, who used to be daddy's little killer, proved a tad too hard to control and so he banished her to another realm until he died at which point she'd be allowed back to reclaim his throne, which just so happens to coincide with the ancient prophecy of Ragnarok, that foretells the utter destruction of Asgard.

Before Thor has even had time to introduce himself properly to the inhabitants of Sakaar he's captured by Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson) who is the last surviving member of the Asgard's elite all-female, Pegasus- flying, amazonian warrior caste called The Valkyrie, who all, apart from her, died when they captured Hela first time round. Scrapper 142 promptly presents Thor as a gift to The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) ruler of Sakaar to fight against his own champion in the Contest of Champions – a gladiator tournament he runs for the amusement of the population. Enter the Hulk, who's been missing from Earth for the past two years and who's also somehow ended up on Sakaar too. Bloody hell, this planet is just like waiting for a bus. You wait ages then three turn up at the same time.

ANYWAY. Now the two mightiest beings on the planet must battle for the benefit of The Grandmaster. So far so the trailer. After that, Thor recruits a team of heroes he christens The Revengers to return to Asgard to defeat Hela and that's the plot, sort of. There's also side plots featuring Heimdall (Idris Elba) who's fighting a guerrilla war on Asgard against Hela, and her right hand man Scourge (Karl Urban) and her large shaggy dog. Oh and just to make sure there's enough going on we have Loki who's up to his usual tricks. Add to the mix an assortment of cameos and guest stars and you have Thor Ragnarok, Marvel's silliest outing since Guardians of the Galaxy.

This is without doubt Marvel's funniest film to date, taking the humour of Guardians and then turning the dial all the way up to 11. In fact, once you've finished laughing and you've stumbled out of the cinema two hours and ten minutes later with a huge grin on your face and you start to think back over what you've just watched you begin to realise something...

All those gags and humour were at the expense of a coherent plot, or drama or a sense of dread or even of jeopardy. In fact, so light-hearted is this outing, that it utter derails any drama or adventure. We never, for one single moment ever have a shread of a doubt that our heroes won't succeed, likewise we have no concerns that any serious injury or damage will befall them either. Even when the Hulk horrifically pummels Thor's body and face with an utterly brutal barrage of double-fisted blows. In deed he emerges from one fight with nothing more than a few grazes. Which begs the question, just how powerful is Thor? Because judging from this outing he's genuinely immortal and more indestructable than Captain Scarlet.

As the Marvel film canon has progressed the humour, an important part of all super hero films, has gradually increased until in the last three Marvel films it's actually taken centre-stage and I think it's becoming a problem. Once you've created an immortal, indestructable superhero with limitless power what do you do with him? It's going to make the upcoming Infinity Gauntlet a hard film to feel any sense of threat for if we know that none of our heroes are going to die where will come the sense of a challenge? Usually our heroes are human and even though we know they're not going to die, we can still worry that some harm might befall them, be they James Bond, Indiana Jones or even Han Solo - in fact he's a good case in point, there was a hero who did die! And what a surprise that was.

But i digress. What of Thor Ragnarok?

Well, it's funny, in fact from the word go it runs up its funny credentials and then secures them up there for all to see. After that it's one funny routine after another as each of the characters gets a chance to do something funny, and believe me it is funny, you will laugh often out loud. Although that said, it is hard to actually and genuinely laugh silently. I've tried it, it just looks odd, almost as if you're having a convulsion.

Alright, I know what you're thinking. 'Jesus, David, stop waffling and just answer the question. Is this film any good? And is it worth seeing?'

Well, yes it's fun and it's a laugh but that's it really, there's no more depth then that. from the very first scene as Thor narrates to a skeleton what led him to that point right up to the final post credit sting, it's all for fun and all done in the best possible taste. And yet once it's over you'll start to ponder all the plot holes, like for example, why does Thor actually need the Hulk? What's his purpose in the mission? Why is Thor so desperate to get him to come back to Asgard with him? What is Hela's actual goal? She seems actually pointless, she has nothing to do. Actually for large portions of this film, major character just disappear, it's almost as if it's only the surface area that director Taika Waititi cares about. All that said, the cast are very good, Kate Blanchett is terrific as Hela and she obviously relishes a roll this outlandish, Chris Hemsworth proves he's got a good sense of humour as well as some impressive abs, Hiddleson phones it in again as Loke, a character who's lost a lot of his sinister bite and the there's Korg, a massive rock monster played by Taika Waititi. I also think Tessa Thompson deserves a special shout-out as Scrapper 142, who's an interesting character, or at least could have been if Waititi had just eased off the gag peddle a tad. It also pays wonderful respect to Jack Kirby and much of the designs owe a huge debt to him.

Sure you'll probably have a laugh, you'll enjoy spotting all the celebrity and superhero cameos, all those little Marvel Easter Eggs, the obligatory Stan Lee skit and the banter between the Hulk and Thor, but seriously that's all there is to this film, it's all just for shits and giggles. There's no depth, drama or excitement just lots of funny action packed gags. You'll have a laugh but come tomorrow you'll have forgotten the whole bloody thing.

8/10 on the first viewing, 7/10 on the second.


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