Thor: Ragnarok

 

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In the seventeenth instalment of the so-called Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's a case of 

the same-old same-old.

 
Thor: Ragnarok

Tom Hiddleston and Tessa Thompson

 

When the Avengers first assembled, there was a genuine frisson in the air. Now it all seems terribly old hat. Thor: Ragnarok is, believe it or not, the seventeenth instalment in the so-called Marvel Cinematic Universe. And it struggles to make a noise above the roar and thunder of the other outings. It’s unfortunate, then, that Thor himself is the god of thunder, at least according to the annals of Norse mythology. Here, his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins, slumming it) tells him he’s got an older sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), and that her power is limitless. Until now she’s been locked up (for millennia, actually), and on her escape is determined to wreak her revenge and destroy Asgard, Thor’s home realm. As described in Scandinavian lore it is the End of Days, or, as they call it, Ragnarök.

 

While what follows adheres more to Norse legend than anything contemporary or American, there is a definite Antipodean feel to the proceedings. Besides the considerable presence of the Melbourne-born Chris Hemsworth as Thor and the Melbourne-born Cate Blanchett as his wicked sister, the director is the New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi, who also takes the role of the rock giant Korg. But, as we learned in the recent adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman, Norse people generally speak in regulation English accents. Even the American actress Tessa Thompson, who has the most interesting part as a hard-drinking Asgardian warrior called 'Valkyrie', adopts a British brogue.

 

Thor: Ragnarok  

Cate Blanchett and Chris Hemsworth

 

If only there were more characters like Valkyrie, providing the Marvel Cinematic Universe with its first black heroine (albeit a heavy drinker). Otherwise too much is the same-old, same-old, with Thor’s constant bickering with his mischievous brother Loki (the London-born Tom Hiddleston) hardly worthy of Ant and Dec. There’s the usual overload of CGI and a general feeling of corporate banality that no end of guest cameos can alleviate. While Taika Waititi won widespread critical acclaim for his last film Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Empire magazine named it the best film of the year), the Kiwi feels out of his depth here. What the film really needs is a distinctive visual style, a comic pizazz. One only has to look at Guardians of the Galaxy to see how feeble Ragnarok is in comparison, an over-extended chapter in a franchise that’s beginning to offer less flavour than the popcorn being chomped during its running time.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Taika Waititi (motion-capture), Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel House, Clancy Brown, Tadanobu Asano, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Sam Neill, Matt Damon, Luke Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Stan Lee.

 

Dir Taika Waititi, Pro Kevin Feige, Screenplay Eric Pearson, from a story by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost and Eric Pearson, Ph Javier Aguirresarobe, Pro Des Dan Hennah and Ra Vincent, Ed Joel Negron and Zene Baker, Music Mark Mothersbaugh, Costumes Mayes C. Rubeo.

 

Marvel Studios-Walt Disney Pictures
130 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 24 October 2017. Cert. 12A.