Even before the release of Thor: Ragnarok, one may already sense the latest film featuring the muscly blonde Thunder God is a very different Marvel movie — from cheeky tweets by its director to Team Thor, the promotional videos featuring Thor with his Australian roommate. All these have set the stage for a movie that seems willing to take itself less seriously.
Ridiculousness and off-beat moments abound in Thor: Ragnarok, which is directed by Taika Waititi. The New Zealander director seems to be a strange choice for a Marvel blockbuster, given his background in indie comedies like vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows (2014) and adventure film Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) – both excellent movies, by the way. Marvel’s gamble pays off handsomely, as Waititi creates a colourful cosmic adventure brimming with witty dialogue and fun character moments, without sacrificing the big-budget action of a blockbuster movie.
Following the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is determined to prevent Ragnarok, the prophesied event that threatens to destroy his home planet Asgard. He’s reunited with a not-very-dead-after-all Loki – a role reprised by the charming Tom Hiddleston – and his father Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins). Rounding off the family reunion is a nasty surprise: Thor’s long-lost sister and Odin’s eldest child, Hela.
Known as the Goddess of Death, Hela has returned to claim the Asgardian throne and conquer the nine realms, promising a blaze of ruin and destruction. Thor must stop her reign of terror over Asgard, but first, he needs to escape from the alien planet Sakaar and assemble a team to take down his powerful sister.
Cate Blanchett is delightfully malicious as Hela, the first-ever female main villain we’ve seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Speaking in a low, almost demonic tone, she comes across as the epitome of evil, with over-the-top, campy moments weaved with appearances that are truly quite sinister. As she tightens her grip around Mjölnir and shatters the almighty hammer “like it was glass”, we see a villain who has absolutely no capacity for remorse or restraint.
Indeed, the unique personalities of the different characters are what make this film shine, whether it’s Hemsworth’s heroic and surprisingly hilarious Thor, the drunk and sassy Valkyrie played with gusto by Tessa Thompson, or an increasingly intelligent and lovable Hulk. The love-hate bromance between Thor and Loki is developed further; watch out for the hilarious scene where Thor recounts a childhood story of one of Loki’s many tricks. We’re also introduced to new characters who are sure to be fan favourites – Jeff Goldblum is terrific as the quirky Grandmaster, and Waititi himself steals the show as a big blue alien being Korg.
Characters and dialogue aside, the film is a visual and auditory delight. This is perhaps the most colourful Marvel movie to date, featuring a super-shiny rainbow bridge, rainbow fireworks, and a retro 70’s/80’s vibe laden with synthwave tunes by Mark Mothersbaugh, and epic fights timed perfectly to the ‘ahhh’s of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song. Thor: Ragnarok is as fun as it gets for a superhero film – and a great sign of what future Marvel movies have in store.
Thor: Ragnarok is currently showing at theatres across Singapore, including the newest Cathay Cineplex at Parkway Parade.