Thor: Ragnarok

THOR: RAGNAROK. Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Mark Buffalo, Tom Hiddelston, Anthony Hopkins, and Tessa Thompson. Also starring Iris Elba, and Benedict Cumberbatch. Directed by Taika Waititi. Rated M (Action violence). 130 min.

This American superhero film is the third film in the fantasy-science fiction series based on the Marvel Comics character, Thor, and is a sequel to both "Thor" (2011) and "Thor: The Dark World "(2013). The film is directed by Indigenous New Zealand Director, Taika Waititi, who directed the popular 2016 film, "Hunt for the "Wilderpeople". The events of this film take place four years after those of "Thor" (2011), and the film was largely produced on Queensland's Gold Coast.

The film finds Thor imprisoned on the planet, Sakaar. Its plot line is about the threat to Thor's home planet, Asgard, and to the future of Asgardian civilisation.

Very loosely borrowed from Norse mythology, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is a hammer-wielding God associated with the strength and protection of mankind. He is the son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), the King of the Norse Gods, and he was destined to inherit the throne of Asgard from his ageing father, before his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddelston), usurped his place. In "Thor" (2011), Thor was cast out of Asgard to live among humans on Earth. In this movie, Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe on the planet, Askaar (without his hammer), and faces a gladiatorial battle with his old friend and ally, the Hulk (Mark Buffalo), who is the most successful Gladiator on Sakaar. Thor needs to defeat the Hulk in combat to get back to Asgard. If he fails to return on time, "Ragnarok" (that means "the end of all things") - which has begun - will have run its course.

Thor is desperate to return to his home planet to stop his evil sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of death, who heralds doom for Asgardian civilisation. Hela has been imprisoned on Asgard for 5,000 years, and, now released, she wants to control Asgard, and then the Universe. First-born to Odin, she considers herself  the rightful heir to his throne. She is utterly ruthless, and her defeat is essential to prevent Ragnarok.

The power of Hela forces Thor to team up with his brother, Loki, the Asgardian warrior, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and the Hulk. They band together so that Asgardian civilisation can endure. Destruction of Asgard seems likely, though perhaps not its people.

Relative to the previous films, this movie is much lighter in tone. It brings a fresh look to the Thor series, and succeeds in doing so. Waititi's direction has a satirical edge to it, and he frequently makes fun of the series as a whole. Much of the dialogue has an improvised feel to it, and the comedy is very natural-looking. Witty scripting accompanies the action. We are told by one character, for example, that the people, "tried to start a revolution, but didn't print enough pamphlets" to do it.

The film makes heavy use of "motion capture performance " technology. Every part of Hela's body becomes a formidable weapon. Up until this film, no Marvel Cinematic Universe Villain has been a woman. Blanchett takes to her role in flamboyant style, satisfying her "violent appetites" in whatever way she can. She knows that "the more havoc she creates, the stronger she gets". 

This is a movie that continues  the adventures of Thor in fine style. It is highly entertaining and enjoyable, and Waititi gives events a very different tone, making them warmer, funnier, and lighter. Visual effects are impressive, and Blanchett's over-the-top performance, as Thor's evil sister, almost matches the anticipation of invincibility that usually characterises what happens to her noble brother.

Peter W. Sheehan is Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Released October 26th., 2017

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