The emphasis Thor: Ragnarok’s marketing has placed on boisterous irreverence proves only half-true in delivery. In fact, this threequel latches fairly greedily onto the proven Marvel formula throughout. All your favourite tropes make an appearance: the villain, a sinfully underused Cate Blanchett, remains shivering in the shadows of Thanos’ still-looming storm; a dimensional wound remains a go-to plot device; and the final act, of course, has something important fall out of the sky.
Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo, who have enjoyed sparky chemistry since The Avengers, have good fun with their intergalactic “Lennie and George” riff, but Ragnarok is more of a warm buzz than crackling electricity. Striving against the obvious constraints of a franchise movie, Taiki Waititi is able to imbue the film with his signature wry-and-dry guffaws – but the central narrative has a critical over-reliance on quick conveniences, most of which wobble and crash into each other like dominos. Characters’ whole personalities are victims to even the most gentle of breezes, and you can hear the rusty wheels squeal in protest when the narrative demands they turn.
All of this unfortunately emboldens the view that Ragnarok is perhaps more a collection of very funny sketches than a complete film. There are plenty of giggles and grins to tumble from this barrel – perhaps too many. Too often, dramatic moments of jeopardy are entirely dismantled by fizzy one-liners, removing most of the tension through a cackle. Is it a worthy trade? Well, for Goldilocks audiences, those people who find DC too dark, it might just be that Ragnarok is too light in comparison. Let’s hope Infinity War is just right.
For all its apocalyptic gloom, Thor: Ragnarok might just be Marvel’s funniest movie yet – but it doesn’t quite reach the roster of their best.
CAST: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Anthony Hopkins
DIRECTOR: Taiki Waititi
WRITERS: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost
SYNOPSIS: Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.