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dir Taika Waititi
scr Eric Pearson
prd Kevin Feige
with Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Karl Urban, Jeff Goldblum, Anthony Hopkins, Taika Waititi, Tadanobu Asano, Benedict Cumberbatch
release UK 24.Oct.17, US 3.Nov.17
17/US Marvel 2h10
Friends from work: Hemsworth and Ruffalo
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Taika Waititi takes a refreshingly light-handed approach to Marvel's universe in this beefed-up action epic, filling scenes with snappy wit and hilarious sight gags. This not only makes the characters far more interesting, but it makes the film one of the most entertaining in the Avengers series. On the other hand, while the action is expertly staged, it's rather relentless, repetitive and never remotely suspenseful.
Now that Ragnarok has been triggered, leading to the prophesied death of their father Odin (Hopkins) and the destruction of Asgard, Thor (Hemsworth) and his mischievous brother Loki (Hiddleston) are surprised to learn that they have an older sister, Hela (Blanchett), the goddess of death. As she makes a vicious lunge for control, the brothers are captured by the cheeky Grandmaster (Goldblum) on Sakaar, and Thor is pitted against his old friend Hulk (Ruffalo) in the arena. He also meets the last surviving Valkyrie (Thompson) of Asgard, convincing her to join them to stop Hela.
The film's breezy tone makes it a lot of fun, as every actor gets to explore the lighter side of his or her character. This adds silly touches to almost every scene, and the audience laughter balances the fierce hand-to-hand battles that come along like clockwork. There are so many crashing fight scenes, augmented by eye-popping digital effects, that we're fairly worn out about halfway in, but the comedy keeps us invested. As do some deeper emotions gurgling under the surface.
Hemsworth and Hiddleston get to dig into Thor and Loki's sibling relationship, cleverly playing their rivalry and camaraderie. And it's also great to see Thor develop a few friendships, not only in his hilarious banter with Ruffalo's terrific Hulk/Banner and Elba's earnest Heimdall, but also with Korg (Waititi), a rock-beast with a gentle soul. And his sparring with Valkyrie has a feisty edge. Thompson brings superb physicality to the role, as does an on-fire Blanchett, who very nearly walks off with the film.
Stir in ace side roles for Goldblum and Urban (as an opportunistic Asgardian), plus smile-inducing cameos like Cumberbatch's snarky Dr Strange, and there's never a dull moment. That said, since there's no doubt where this is headed, there's also virtually no tension in the plot. Each sequence proceeds to the predicted result, and even when there's a twist in the tale, it's the kind of thing that makes perfect sense within this universe. In other words, the film is riotously engaging but never surprising.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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