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Review | ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Is Full of Swag and Sass, Don’t Miss It

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ has Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum in top form.

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The idea of Thor, the Asgardian God in the adventureland of a juvenile’s imagination has always been a comical one. Between Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespearean smirk and Joss Whedon’s laboured irreverence, the brawny blond chap never really gained a full-blooded life of his own in cinema. But in the hands of Kiwi director Taika Waititi, the buffed-up God not only loses his locks, he even releases himself from the weight of grandstanding.

A streak of self-imposed lunacy is palpable from the very first frame. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) locked in chains, is breaking the fourth wall - evidently a captive of fire demon Sutur. The villain launches into showboating, proclaiming to unleash an apocalypse but gets constantly interrupted by Thor. This banter, mostly successful in raising chuckles sets the tone for what to come.

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ has Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum in top form.
A poster of Thor: Ragnarok

As it turns out, Thor’s cheeky brother Loki (again a very delightful Tom Hiddleston) has sent their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) to exile on earth, and is busy playacting to correct his place in Asgardian history. However, it’s not his brother that Thor should worry about, but his unknown-till-now sister Hela who can crush his Mjolnir like a packet of potato chips. Voila! Even Thor’s father reworked history.

Hela played by the sculpted frame of Cate Blanchett gets raised as a character as usually happens with such roles played by acclaimed actors for pure deviant fun in commercial juggernauts. Blanchett with her rising antlers, rolling kohled eyes, and shape-hugging costumes wishes to have gregarious fun but gets shortchanged. She delivers her ominous threats in empty arenas because the public is hiding and their savior, the god of thunder, is in another planet ― Sakaar.
‘Thor: Ragnarok’ has Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum in top form.
Cate Blanchett as Hela in Thor: Ragnarok
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Waititi, a craftsman of deadpan humour shows how clever he is in handling a Hollywood behemoth in Sakaar. He offers all the blaze and buster in the skirmishes, but reserves the real thing in the area he is good at. As evident in his previous films, What We Do in the Shadows (2014) and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016), Waititi enlivens the clashes in a poker-faced vein when characters utter words with a shrug, an attitude of wit that refuses to transport the cargo of impending apocalypse that every comic book movie suffers from. Which is why the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor clash is a terrific bang for the bucks, but it’s the repartee between the two that shines a light on the film’s true gift. So the dark knight does rise from gladiatorial battles though it’s not physical strength that wins, but good-natured humour.

Waititi’s version of the villain Grandmaster and his den, the planet Sakaar is a reminder of the 80s colourfully kitschy aesthetics. Jeff Goldblum stealing the film, plays the villain like only he could have possibly done, with an air of improvisation―rambling, rolling words in a manner that makes you bare your teeth, not raise your hair.

By the end of it all, you remember not the flash of the sets or the absence of blood in well-oiled gargantuan fights, but the back-and-forth swag and sass of familiar-but-refreshingly-new characters. Almost like a big-budget sitcom.

There is a delightful scene in the film in which Thor identifies himself as ‘the strongest avenger’ when asked for a password. Though God, he never proved himself to be the strongest, nor was he funny ― why Thor films always remained the most tedious of the Marvel universe. But Thor: Ragnarok cuts the god of thunder to human-sized humour. He is silly, and his jokes land well. For now, this will do just fine.

(The writer is a journalist, a screenwriter, and a content developer who believes in the insanity of words, in print or otherwise. He tweets @RanjibMazumder)

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