Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Totally Thor-Some; This Time the God of Thunder Really Hammers Home the Jokes

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Totally Thor-Some; This Time the God of Thunder Really Hammers Home the Jokes

Article excerpt

Byline: Matthew Norman

THOR: RAGNAROK Cert 12A, 130 mins YOU could go the cinema twice a day, every day, for the next 50 years without seeing a movie that declares its intent to correct a prequel's mistake with the speed and assurance of Thor: Ragnarok.

In the muscle-bulging, metal rockerhaired shape of Aussie prime rib Chris Hemsworth, the God of Thunder from Down Under is back -- and this time, as he casually lets on in the first few seconds, he's playing it for laughs.

If you were bored to the edge of hallucinating by Thor: The Dark World, the pompous and ponderous second film in this Marvel franchise, the lightness and sustained comic power of the third will make you think you've died and gone to Valhalla.

It opens with Thor trapped in a gently gyrating metal box, apparently at the mercy of one of those regulation demons whose innards are illuminated the lurid orange-red of volcanic lava.

"Oh no, Thor's in a cage! How did that happen?" he says to himself with weary mock amazement. He then politely asks the demon (voiced by Clancy Brown, and almost as sadistic as Brown's prison guard in The Shawshank Redemption) to wait for the cage to complete its slomo spin so he can look it in the eyes as it rants about the oncoming cataclysm. Ragnarok, according to my trusty Asgardian-English dictionary, translates to The End of Days.

Thor doesn't need his hammer Mjolnir to break the fourth wall, a la Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool. To communicate that the film means to embrace the absurdity of the superhero genre, rather than disguise it in the leaden cape of ersatz emotional depth, all it takes is that one nugget of self-parodic wit.

He does need Mjolnir to escape, however, and the sight of the mighty weapon/ building utensil flying to his outstretched hand will be a relief to fellow owners of the plastic version. I was enough of a fan of the Kenneth Branaghdirected original to receive one of those as a Father Day's present. This third in the series, a startlingly confident blockbuster debut from New Zealand director Taika Waititi, is better.

This has little to do with the cast, though even by superhero movie standards it is so stellar that Matt Damon contents himself with the weeniest of cameos.

Anthony Hopkins, among others, is back. Made a widower by Christopher Eccleston's elf king in The Dark World, his Odin has retired to Norway, where he gazes grievingly to sea while clad in a linen-jacketglorious and-slacks ensemble possibly better suited to a Miami condo geezer than the All Father.

Also returning is Tom Hiddleston as Thor's warring brother Loki, the trickster god with the hideous Cavalier coiffe, who is briefly ruler of Asgard. If you thought Loki was the worst sibling in all the Nine Realms, brace yourself for Cate Blanchett's Hela. …

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