Thor: Ragnarok (TBA)
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo
Directed by Taika Waititi
The trouble with sequels is that they generally aren’t as good as their predecessors. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe context, the Part 2s — with the exception of Captain America: Winter Soldier — are the weak links. Look at Iron Man 2, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and, er, Thor: The Dark World. They don’t really suck; they’re just underwhelming. The good news is, the respective heroes bounced back triumphantly with their Part 3s. Look at Iron Man 3, Captain America: Civil War, and now Thor: Ragnarok. Here’s what we like — and don’t like — about the threequel, where the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) teams up with Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and new ally Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to stop Hela the Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett) from becoming an intergalactic party pooper.
Thor is the new Tony Stark!
The first thing that strikes you about Ragnarok is that it’s funny. Kooky Kiwi director Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) has imbued Thor with a sense of humour: he’s now snarky, sarcastic, silly even (especially in his scenes with Mark Ruffalo). Clearly, Hemsworth’s two tours as Saturday Night Live host have served him well. Tonally, there’s a nice balance between levity and gravitas.
The movie isn’t safe for the colour blind!
Waititi and his collaborators have made the scenes on Planet Sakaar — ruled by a flamboyant The Grandmaster (a heaven-sent Jeff Goldblum) — into a love letter to Jack Kirby, the legendary artist who co-created countless Marvel characters with Stan Lee (yes, he has a cameo). The alien vistas are awash with vibrant turquoise blues, pastel pinks and mustard yellows. You’d be tripping if you’re watching Ragnarok in IMAX 3D.
Crank up the soundtrack!
Besides a traditional orchestral music, Waititi also got Mark Mothersbaugh, Wes Anderson’s go-to composer and co-founder of the ’70s New Wave band Devo, to create a pulsating electronic score to accompany the mind-blowing psychedelic visuals. It also doesn’t hurt to use Led Zeppelin’s screaming ‘Immigrant Song’ in an action sequence. (Twice!) Rock on!
We need to talk about Loki!
Ragnarok is a fun ride through and through. Remember the first time you saw Guardians of the Galaxy? Same reaction here. But sometimes it’s weird to see Loki having a ball on Team Thor: Can we still root for the guy who has caused so much damage and carnage in The Avengers (he killed — kinda — Agent Coulson!)? Is the movie normalising a villain? Just saying. (****)