Thor Ragnarok

Kiwi Indie director Taika Waititi has been handed the keys to one of the biggest cinematic franchises within the Marvel stable of superheroes.

Anyone with a passing knowledge of Taika’s previous filmography, would realise this will not be the darkest or most serious entries in the “Thor” canon of films.

Chris Hemsworth reprises his role as “Thor”, clearly relishing his new hair do and exploring his fun side. From the first scene, it’s obvious this will be the most irreverent Marvel film yet.

Explaining the plot in modern superhero films is an exercise in lunacy. So in summary, Thor gets banished to a planet in which he has to fight someone we already know, “it’s ok, I know him from work” Mark Ruffalo in both “Bannon” and “Hulk” form. In charge of said planet is “Grandmaster” (Jeff Goldblum), effectively the puppeteer of a Roman Colosseum gladiatorial type event.

Meanwhile set to wreak havoc on Thor’s home world “Asgard”, is a splendidly snarling Cate Blanchett  as “Hela”, Thor’s long lost sister and designated baddie. Hela clearly has some daddy issues to work through, although “Odin” (Anthony Hopkins) gets precious little screen time to deal with familial problems.

“Thor” needing to escape to deal with said issue, eventually gains a partner to kick butt with. “Valkyrie” (Tessa Thompson) who can more than hold her own in battle and any drinking competition you care to name.

Keep an eye out for blink or you miss them “A list” cameos and director Taika playing a man made of CGI rocks, with a full on Maori “Bro” accent. Quite what International audiences will make of it remains to be seen. His homegrown audience enjoyed his Kiwi humour every time he was on screen.

As his star continues to rise, Idris Elba as “Heimdall” gets more screen-time and plays a pivotal role. Fellow Kiwi actor Karl Urban gets a look in as a temporary, seemingly reluctant executioner. “Dr Strange” (Benedict Cumberbatch) also pops in for a bit of cape twirling and light humour.

It’s obvious the cast are having fun, Goldblum enjoying every scene stealing moment with his well practiced tics and mannerisms. Tom Hiddleston as “Loki” repeats his trust me/betray you routine but it’s always fun to see the film brothers bickering amongst such high stakes.

Ruffalo brings some humanity to a mostly CGI role, arguably the character with the most impressive character arc within each movie. Smashing everyone in sight one moment and riddled with self doubt the next.

Director Taika keeps it light and not only takes a leaf out of GOTG 1 & 2 book but borrows the space opera premise whole. This is no bad thing, as Thor was previously in danger of disappearing up it’s own worm hole.

However, with the level of respect and awe for the character markedly diminished, it makes it difficult for any film maker to go back to “original” Thor.

Overall a real romp, albeit deliberately silly in parts. Unless you are a comic book purist with a heart of stone, you’ll enjoy every moment. Quite where this leaves the “Thor” myth going forward is anyone’s guess.

Summary

Great family fun, with a low level of violence and a joke almost in every scene. “Thor Lite” if you will.

It is great to see “Top NZ bloke” Taika Waititi (Director) doing so well on the world cinematic stage, it will be interesting to see where he goes next.