Thor: Ragnarok is a tightly manufactured blend of comedy that peculiarly, being set as far away from earth as universally possible, finds itself feeling perfectly at home. It deftly balances crisis with jubilation, sentimentality with wit and ultimately offers a superhero film that is more fun than anything that has preceded it.
The film concerns itself with a myriad of problems. The reveal at the end of The Dark World is yet to be addressed or resolved. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has recurring dreams of a fire giant by the name of Surtur who is destined to destroy Asgard in the event known as Ragnarok. Thor’s exiled sister, Hela (Kate Blanchett), goddess of death, makes grounds to claiming Asgard as the rightful heir to the throne. This spiral of events finds Thor on a mysterious dystopian world known as Sakaar, ruled by Jeff Goldblum. His character has a name but his performance is so distinctly and loveably Goldblumy that what separates him from his character is difficult to decipher.
Director Taika Waititi (of What We Do in the Shadows fame) offers up a performance of his own as an incredibly good-natured and softly spoken rock monster named Korg, who often assumes the role of the comic relief character in a film laden with comic relief. Waititi is mischievous in his direction, ambitious and very very funny. He allows the entire cast to shine. Hemsworth offers up a charismatic and witty lead performance which displays his talents not only as an actor but as a comedian. Blanchett is given free reign to lapse from her menacing performance to trade blows with the best of them without losing the presence needed of a film’s villain to inspire dramatic urgency and necessity. Hemsworth and Ruffalo team up to create a very unlikely bromance that keeps the spirit of the middle act buoyant.
The script is tight and full of gall, subverting genre tropes and being very deliberately self-aware, but never in a gratuitous way. Moments of sentimentality are cut short, moments of heaviness are interrupted and this form is maintained right until the end. It fully commits to its mission. Epitomising this is the duality of the setting. While Planet Hulk offers a tremendous canvas for the bulk of the film’s antics, Asgard is falling and near its end. At times the film feels like it serves as fodder for its comedy and overshadows its actual identity, but this doesn’t happen enough to disrupt the film’s main concern, and when it does happen the payoff is good enough that it can be forgiven. The blend of pathos and humour on the whole is deftly executed, and most importantly does not prevent itself from identifiably being Thor’s film, and his quest to save his home from destruction.
Thor: Ragnarok is a romp and a half that will entertain with its gallant script, exquisite cast and most importantly its sheer sense of revelry.