Ask Marvel fans what their favourite film is and the chances you’ll hear Thor or Thor: The Dark World are slim-to-none. Trying to course correct, Marvel Studios are to be commended for yet again taking an out-of-left-field choice with indie director Taika Waititi – the director of deadpan vampire treat What We Do In The Shadows and last year’s superb Hunt For Wilderpeople – and allowing him to inject his trademark absurdist comedy to the mix. And while this latest adventure for the God of Thunder, which sees him try to prevent Apocalypse Norse by going face-to-face with Hela The Goddess of Death (a gothic Cate Blanchett, abusing the eyeliner like a particularly morose emo on Halloween), might be by some distance the strongest Thor film, it’s still not quite up there with the best the MCU has to offer.
Kudos to Thor: Ragnarok for committing to the Spaceballs tone, due to the quip-heavy script and the scene-stealing Tessa Thompson, who previously impressed in Selma and Creed, and here getting space to stretch her comedy chops. However, as much as the joke hit-rate is strong, the movie often feels too chuffed with itself, like everyone was too busy having a blast on set and getting away with a few irreverent beats to bother disturbing the established format. What you end up with is a funny, colourful romp that feels too light on real stakes and too much like a series of wacky sketches stitched together, as opposed to a more satisfyingly orchestrated adventure like Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol 1, that is). Still, it does contain the best use of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant’s Song’ since The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, so, you know, that’s something.
Thor: Ragnarok / Directed by Taika Waititi (US, 2017), with Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston. Starts Oct 31.
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