‘Thor’ a thunderous success

Marvel perfects its formula with the god of thunder’s third chapter

Source: Kyler Russell

Thor: Ragnarok brilliantly concludes the Asgardian trilogy, hitting each of the three key tenets of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in stride: hilarious laughs, high-flying action and an in-depth story. Take the bifrost to your nearest theater this weekend; the hammer-throwing demigod is back and better than ever.

In this final Nordic showdown, death comes to visit the sons of Odinliterally. The goddess of death, Hela (Cate Blanchett) returns to Asgard to bring about the kingdom’s undoing, known in Nordic legend as “Ragnarok.” The ensuing race to stop the sorceress tests the bonds of brotherhood and friendship, spanning the galaxy with a delightful blend of hilarity and intensity that you won’t want to miss.

The movie opens with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) instilling peace in the multiverse as usual, armed with his snide bravado and beautiful blonde hair. Meanwhile, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is, much to the consternation of his brother and their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), mischievous. This trio gives Thor: Ragnarok its center throughout all its planet-hopping and monster-brawling, rooting the CGI-aided fantasy in timeless family morals.

Hopkins plays the mentor role of Odin with grandeur, transcending fairy tale and captivating the audience. Hemsworth’s half-dozen years playing Thor shows. Six years and four movies later, it is still exciting to watch Thor punching and sneering his way out of confrontation.

Ragnarok flexes originality as well, with self-reference and Led Zeppelin-infused attitude that enliven the franchise. Thor is wiser now, too, as his years of conquest and heartbreak have tempered his arrogance and resigned him to his brother’s duplicity. Hiddleston mixes his usual deception with shades of redemption as Loki, the slippery younger brother we’ve come to distrust and despise. When faced with the obliteration of Asgard, the estranged brothers have no choice but to set aside their differences and unite against Hela. Historically consistent in flair yet varying in substance, Marvel checks both boxes easily with this family tale of heartbreak and redemption.

As one might expect from the goddess of death, Hela is nearly invincible. Her contempt for the Asgard and thirst for power flow effortlessly from Blanchett’s performance. However, her character’s invincibility is yawn-inducing at first.The sword-throwing vixen single-handedly destroys an entire Asgardian army, and the audience doesn’t even bat an eye. This is in the first actof course the bad gal owns these noobs. Everyone knows she’s gonna square off with Thor and the gang in the finale, and it would spoil the build-up for her to be challenged by ordinary foot soldiers right away. Naturally, a villain as powerful as Hela is necessary to rival our battle-hardened heroes the third go-around. Still, having her arrive in Asgard later in the movie could allow the story to focus on our heroes’  setup in the first act before introducing the antagonist in the second act and ratcheting up the conflict for a better-timed finale.

This movie is hilarious. Everyday mistakes by Nordic gods, quirky supporting characters and sharp editing all make for a movie that glides effortlessly from one scene to the next. Marvel’s frequent flaw with its 17-chapter superhero franchise is telling stories that substitute humor for heart, trusting audiences to return every three months for two hours of laughs rather than a story with meaningful foundations. However, director Taika Waititi has won over skeptics with a movie that centers on family and loyalty before cranking up the hijinks and heroism.

This movie is a rollicking adventure well worth the time and money. It has a meaningful story and a fresh take on a storied saga, along with first-rate casting and creative directorship. It avoids key pitfalls prevalent in superhero movies, twisting genre convention slightly with self-awareness while remaining faithful to what makes Thor a legend worth telling. Coming in at an 8/10, Thor: Ragnarok defies genre expectations and soars to new heights.

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