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Review – Thor: Ragnarok – “A love letter to King Kirby”

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I am just back from the cinema after watching Thor: Ragnarok and the cheesy smile will not leave my face. It was so much fun. I had planned on taking my daughter to see it, but she was invited to go on a fun day out with a friend so I took my Mum along to watch. She is a big fan of the comic book movies and she thoroughly enjoyed this one. Luckily this means I get to watch it again with my daughter.

So that’s the set-up and the small cast of characters surrounding the viewing, but let us dive straight in and take about what director Taika Waititi has wrought. First of all the film is a love letter to King Kirby. For those of you who don’t know, that is a reference to Jack Kirby. One of the greatest comic book artist, writer, and editors of all time. He created so many wondrous places and characters, and with Stan Lee (yes he gets another cameo) he co-created the likes of the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Hulk. Waititi and the designers on Thor: Ragnarok have taken Kirby’s unique design aesthetic and brought it to life and it is beautiful.

There is also a lovely dose of Walt Simonson’s influence. He had an incredible run on the Thor comic in 1983 to 1987. He created the character Beta Ray Bill and there is a cool nod to Bill on the tower of the Grandmaster.

You will spend so much time just looking at the scenery, machinery, armour and weapons on display as they all have that cool Jack Kirby look. All the glowing panels, lights, strange machinery and cosmic craziness is all right there. Well, you would spend your time looking if you could look away way from the humour, action and pathos on display with the characters.

I have enjoyed all the Thor movies, but I know they have not been to everyone’s taste. Ragnarok is head and shoulders above them. The script is great, balancing both humour and exposition to great effect. There was plenty of improvisation on set and you can see how that helped as there is a freshness and relaxed quality to the way the characters talk and interact with each other. It all looks great and everyone is on their A-game when it comes to the acting….of course, when you have got Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston and the rest then you know they are going to be good.

Chris Hemsworth shines among them all. He is so good at comedy and his Thor has evolved and grown. This more easy going and caring Thor is a delight and it still works when he has to cut loose and take out the bad guys. His banter with Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk/Bruce Banner is a wonder to behold. Each warrior sniping or changing their story to get the upper hand. Ruffalo also brought across the intense loneliness and sorrow that Hulk feels beneath his constant rage and it was a refreshing change to have scenes that involved Hulk actually talking. The same applies to Tom Hiddleston’s Loki who has been both hero and villain throughout the Marvel movies. You can tell they love playing these characters and the banter between two brothers seems so natural. The “get help” moment is also great. Oh, and the cameo for Loki and Odin near the beginning of the film is superb.

As for Jeff Goldblum, well he is just pure Jeff Goldblum. You get the impression Waititi just said, “Jeff, we need the scene to get from A to B so just be Goldblum” and let the cameras roll! It works so well. It was also great seeing Rachel House (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Whale Rider) as Goldblum’s chief enforcer.

Tessa Thompson (Creed) is always good and she did great things as Valkyrie. She also had the opportunity to cut loose in some of the action scenes she had.

The action scenes were all very well done. Some of them had lots of characters involved (especially the ones involving Hela), but you could still see where everyone was and how it all fitted together. Often these big CG scenes can lose you with all the fast cuts and moving around, but I never felt that watching this film.

That brings us to Cate Blanchett’s Hela. The weakest part of many Marvel movies are the villains, but Hela is not one of them. In a very short space of time we are told about her origin, what she can do and then she is there and we can sense the power and cunning she has. You know the heroes usually win, but when you see what Hela can do, you wonder at what cost that victory could have. Cate Blanchett is just incredible in the role – strong, smart, sensuous and superb. She truly is the Goddess of Death and a force to be reckoned with.

There is a lot of humour throughout the film, but it fits in with this journey into strange new worlds. Like Thor, we are learning about the Grandmaster and the planet he has created and humour is always the best way to go.

The story flows well through many different places, dimensions and planets, but you never feel lost. You know the situation, what is at stake and who everyone is. A fine balancing act as it could have been so overwhelming.

I really hope we get to see Taika Waititi direct more films for Marvel as he has worked wonders on Thor and it was just a great time at the cinema.

Go along to the cinema and have a couple of hours of sheer joy. For those of you wondering there are two post credit scenes.

Thor: Ragnarok opens in the UK on 24th October 2017 and in the US on 3rd November 2017.

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