Movie review: Third ‘Thor’ film might as well be called a comedy
How much fun can one have at a superhero movie? Well, fun isn’t generally part of the equation in the more serious-minded DC universe. But jumping over to the Marvel side of things often turns into a chance for plenty of laughs, even when the story is serious and full of superhero angst. “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Deadpool,” and “Kick-Ass” come to mind. As do outliers such as “Hellboy” and “The Toxic Avenger.”
But the Marvel Thor films have gone a step further in the way of humor. Even with their Shakespearian familial tragedy tales at their center, they’ve simply been more amusing to watch than any other franchise. Credit must go to Chris Hemsworth’s tongue in cheek approach to playing the mighty Norse god of thunder (OK, he’s really from Asgard, not Norway), but the scripts are right up there in comedic content.
Sure, its predecessors “Thor” (2011) and “Thor: The Dark World” (2013) have been confounding, convoluted affairs that have been a bit hard to follow (A sentence from an IMDB synopsis of “Dark World” reads: “With Volstagg and Sif stalling Asgardian soldiers and Fandral assisting their escape, Thor and Loki commandeer a Dark Elf spaceship and escape to Svartalfheim with Jane.”) But there’s always been room for a snarky remark, a goofy facial expression, an outlandishly funny sight gag.
“Thor: Ragnarok” starts out funny, with Thor (Hemsworth) chained up in a cage, a prisoner of the huge, devil-like Surtur (voice of Clancy Brown), idly reminiscing about his past adventures that have led up to his current predicament, and getting into a jesting back and forth chat with his captor, some of it about Surtur’s plans to bring about Ragnarok, or the destruction of Asgard. Then it goes slapstick.
There’s a wild fight with Surtur and hordes of black and orange creatures, Led Zeppelin comes roaring up on the soundtrack, and Thor finds his way home, only to discover that things have changed since he’s been gone, that the mischievous Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has put their dad Odin (Anthony Hopkins) into a nursing home in Manhattan and that, talking in big-picture terms, “the nine realms are in chaos.”
This becomes a search for dear old dad, who’s finally found hanging out by the seaside in Norway, and letting his sons in on the news that they have an older sister named Hela (Cate Blanchett), who very much likes to show, in formidable manner, why she’s earned the moniker the goddess of death.
Plotwise, the film goes in myriad directions. Hela heads for Asgard, determined to make everyone kneel before her; Thor, still strong but now hammerless, winds up as a prisoner on a junkyard planet ruled over by the humorously Trump-like Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum, having the most fun he’s ever displayed onscreen); Loki vanishes, but soon returns, as ever without a solid clue as to his motivations; and we’re introduced to hard-drinking and tough-as-nails Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson).
A gladiator contest run by Grandmaster for the pleasure of his bloodthirsty constituents, who pack a gigantic stadium, pits Thor against — and there’s no rhyme or reason to this — The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) for an absolute hoot of a scrap between the big guy and the bigger guy.
There’s more fighting, some of it during a big set piece up in the air, Thor just wants to get back to Asgard in order to save the place from his mean-spirited sister (translation: stop Ragnarok), the idea of teamwork among the bickering good guys comes into play, and the fighting escalates, with all sorts of combatants going up against all sorts of other combatants, one of which is an enormous, snarling wolf.
Of most importance: The movie ends, but mid-credits, it has another ending, followed by a third at the end of the credits. Wait, almost forgot: Stan Lee appears at the 50-minute mark, as a barber.
Ed Symkus writes about movies for More Content Now. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost; directed by Taika Waititi
With Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo