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Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

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Score: 7/10

Genre: Superhero and Action Comedy Running Time: 2 hrs. 10 min.

Release Date: November 3rd, 2017 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Taika Waititi Actors: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Idris Elba, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Taika Waititi, Rachel House

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terrifying prophecy foretells of “Ragnarok,” the fall of Asgard through total annihilation. Before Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns home to unmask his brother Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) latest attempt at usurping the throne, he vanquishes the fire demon Surtur (Clancy Brown), believing this act to be enough to halt the advent of Ragnarok. But upon locating his missing father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), exiled on Earth, Thor learns that the fate of Asgard still remains in grave danger by his long-lost and long-imprisoned older sister Hela (Cate Blanchett). As Hela’s powers increase, she arrives at Asgard intent on controlling the Bifrost bridge to conquer countless realms. After failing to defeat Hela in an initial encounter, Thor finds himself stranded on the planet Sakaar, a land of scavengers and mercenaries led by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), a gamester with a penchant for gladiatorial contests. Captured and forced to participate in a lavish spectacle of barbarism, Thor must first escape the treacherous arenas and then recruit allies to aid in an epic battle to save his homeworld.

Previously, Thor saved the world … a couple of times. Considering this latest adventure is really just the umpteenth chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it’s proclaimed, it’s getting difficult to sort out all of the events. Thor’s significant love interest from the first film isn’t even involved. Instead, all the drama, romance, and mythological storytelling has been dropped for one major component: humor. Within the first few minutes, a joke is delivered – and it never lets up from there. In fact, on countless occasions, the narrative grinds to a full stop so that a character can make light of certain doom, or spout a cavalier insult to a prodigious enemy.

These jests are particularly convenient when heroes are unequivocally invincible. They can fly, materialize magical weaponry, or summon phenomena of fundamental forces by simply wishing – or needing – to do so; inexplicable capabilities and unexplained technology tend to propel the characters from one situation or location to the next … not the writing. Because of this, there is no suspense and no challenging scenario; the protagonists are never in any danger, as they can spontaneously devise a solution to every spontaneously devised predicament, and they never conduct any strategy in earnest. It’s all very much like a video game (right down to the visuals and the battles), wherein problems arise just so a player can occupy themselves to get to the next level, usually aided by new tools designed solely for that very problem.

“Darling, you have no idea what’s possible,” states Hela, the chief villain. And that’s a significant downfall for the audience. She grows more powerful as she maneuvers ever closer to Asgard. And why is this the case? Because it makes for a convenient opponent. It’s never explained how she escaped her former banishment, or what exactly her superpowers are; however, she can fight with the same blur of lights and magic and sounds that everyone else can randomly muster. The filmmakers haven’t concocted a fresh method of showcasing combat, so they resort to the same tired standard of computer-animated movements and physics-defying swirls of colors, as bodies are tossed to and fro like rag dolls.

But, “Thor: Ragnarok” has mostly given up on trying to top the degree of spectacle exhibited in the previous films. Instead, it has wholeheartedly embraced the comedy aspect, which repeatedly overshadows all of the action. The writers have figured out that there’s no way to take the world of Thor seriously anymore, so they don’t bother; the only way to enjoy his escapades is to leave the grievous stuff behind. And so, every character – both old and new – is introduced with a joke, and then proceeds to provide their own comic relief (“relief” is a term that doesn’t feel appropriate, considering the unfailing presence of comedy), while the picture continuously pokes fun at itself, snickers at the Avengers and their universe, or stops the momentum dead in its tracks for a few seconds of slapstick. It may have superheroes (and various bromances) in it, but “Thor: Ragnarok” is 100% comedy. It’s far too self-aware to be accidentally mirthful, but with its music and tone, it’s very much like 1980’s “Flash Gordon.” Most of the film makes little sense, but it doesn’t seem to matter much; the story is secondary to the laughs. And it’s very, very funny, for virtually the entire runtime.

– The Massie Twins

 

 



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