By Troy Ribeiro
Film: “Thor: Ragnarok”; Director: Taika Waititi; Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, Taika Waititi, Rachel House, Clancy Brown, Tadanobu Asano, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi and Sam Neill; Rating: ***1/2
This seventeenth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is easily the best of the three Thor films. Unlike its previous two Thor editions which were sombre battle epics, this one is treated as a whacky adventure excursion where the hammer-wielding God of Thunder battles in the prophesied catastrophe – Ragnarok.
According to Norse mythology, Ragnarok is a series of future events, including a great battle, foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number of major figures and some Gods. It is also referred to as the “Fate of the Gods” and “Twilight of the Gods.”
Here, the narrative begins after the Battle of Sokovia. The quest for the Infinity stones and knowledge leads Thor to the fire demon Surtur who informs him that his shape-shifting brother Loki has been impersonating their father Odin. During this face-off, Surtur taunts Thor about the coming Ragnarok, which will see Surtur destroy Thor’s native Asgard.
Agitated, Thor fights Surtur and claims his crown, seemingly forestalling the prophecy. He returns to Asgard and confronts his devious brother, who tells him that he has left his old father on Earth. They travel together to Earth and with the help of Stephen Strange they locate their father in Norway. But Odin is on his deathbed.
On the passing away of Odin, sibling rivalry surfaces for Odin’s throne. Thor has to be wary of his devious brother and fight his long-lost, older sister, Hela – The Goddess of Death. How Thor saves Asgard from extinction and claims his rightful position as the heir of Odin, forms the crux of the tale.
Chris Hemsworth as the good-natured Thor, is goofy and charismatic. It is a delight to watch him grow from a divine, dude-bro into an inspiring leader. Tom Hiddleston as Loki, is cool and twitchy as ever. It’s exciting to see him share screen space with Chris Hemsworth and together they exude brilliant sibling camaraderie.
Cate Blanchett, dressed in a form-fitting fetish gear and sporting a twisting antler-spiked headgear represents the formidable Hela – The Goddess of Death. She puts a stamp on her villainess in her introduction scene when she destroys her brother Thor’s hammer and banishes him to the trash planet, Sakaar.
Mark Ruffalo is charming as the spaced out Bruce Banner and lost in space Hulk. He does add a personal charm to the characters he plays. Anthony Hopkins as Odin is staid and Karl Urban as Hela’s reluctant henchman Skurge is intriguing.
The person who makes her presence felt strongly is Tessa Thompson. Her Valkyrie is dubious and loose, scarred by failure but not haunted by it. She swaggers through every scene with a cocktail of self-confidence and danger, you wish you were cool enough to imbibe.
On the technical front, the film boasts of high-powered visuals, both live action and computer generated. They include familiar elements from the film’s predecessors.
There are moments that might bring the audience back to events seen before on screen, be it a citizen’s uprising, or exodus of refugees amid strife and battles. But the only issue here is that the tale takes a comic book stance, which is formulaic. And what elevates the viewing experience is Mark Mothersbaugh’s background score.
Overall, the film is a fun watch which will appeal to non-Marvel fans too.