Thor: Ragnarok review – humour lightens another load of Marvel – The Guardian

The thing that most annoys me about comic book superhero movies, apart from the inevitable baffling third-act onslaught of special effects, is that they are so intent on hitting the required beats of the formula that there is very little space left to squeeze in a sense of a distinctive directorial voice. In this at least, Thor: Ragnarok is a departure. New Zealand director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows; Hunt for the Wilderpeople) takes the helm of the latest instalment of the adventures of Marvel’s meathead minor deity.

And while Waititi is not credited as a writer, you do get a tangible sense of his input, not just in the humour of the film – it’s the funniest Marvel so far by no small margin – but in the nature of that humour. In common with Waititi’s vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, the film finds absurd comedy by juxtaposing the extraordinary with deliciously prosaic details. A badass warrior made of lumps of granite (and voiced by Waititi himself) bemoans a rebellion that failed because of a lack of pamphlets. A formidable flesh-liquefying weapon wielded by Grandmaster, Jeff Goldblum’s despot/game-show host, is referred to, with deadpan banality, as “the melt stick”.

The film also manages a distinctive look – the dual backdrops of Thor’s threatened home planet, Asgard, and Sakaar, the junk-strewn setting for Grandmaster’s gladiatorial battles, are strikingly realised. But perhaps the most fun comes from the prickly fraternal jostling between Chris Hemsworth’s lovable lunk Thor and his trickster stepbrother Loki (an enjoyably malicious Tom Hiddleston).

Watch a trailer for Thor: Ragnarok.


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