Kiss my Asgard
Did you hear the one about the thunder god, the big green guy and the end of days?
released OUT NOW! 12a | 130 minutes Director Taika Waititi Cast Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Mark ruffalo
Endless darkness; a great, god-slaying winter; the sun swallowed by a giant wolf… It’s not the most obvious comedy material, is it? But as Thor: Ragnarok proves, ancient Norse apocalypse is funnier than you ever dreamed.
Brought to the screen with an eyeball-punching ’80s palette, filled with visuals that homage the comic book showmanship of Jack Kirby, this is as far from the Twilight of the Gods as you can get. What We Do In The Shadows director Taika Waititi – a counter-intuitive choice to helm an Asgardian epic – brings an infectious new irreverence to the Thunder God’s world. He’s unafraid to rug-pull the noble heroics with a killer sight-gag or tip cosmic grandeur over the edge of absurdity. In fact he’s made Marvel’s funniest movie yet. At one point Loki declares, “I’m asking for safe passage through the anus,” a line that manages to make perfect narrative sense while simultaneously busting your ribs.
We’re in on the joke from the opening moments. “I know what you’re thinking,” says a captive Thor, straight to camera. He’s really addressing the skeletal remains of a fellow prisoner but the conspiratorial pact with the audience is established. And the film never stops winking at us. Robbed of his mane and his hammer, Chris Hemsworth perfects his klutzy jock act in a story that makes Thor as much the butt of the joke as sardonic observer of it. Essentially he’s Big Trouble In Little China’s Jack Burton with lightning powers.
The threat comes from Hela, goddess of death, played with camp relish by Cate Blanchett as an unholy amalgam of Cruella De Vil and Shakespear’s Sister. As she seizes power in Asgard, Thor and Loki rock up on the junk-littered world of Sakaar, a gladiatorial locale torn from the pages of Planet Hulk. Thor’s brawl with the big green guy delivers a satisfyingly old-school Marvel punch-up – the CGI Hulk is the most expressive we’ve seen – but it’s Hemsworth’s banter with Mark Ruffalo’s neurotic Banner that’s the winning double-act.
It’s flawed: the parallel plotlines on Sakaar and Asgard never feel as tightly intertwined as they might. Doctor Strange’s presence is pretty much redundant. And, as with the Guardians movies, you wish Marvel would show at least a little reverence towards its fabulously imaginative cosmic lore.
But these are minor quibbles in the face of such a remorseless joy-blitz. Part Douglas Adams, part Led Zep-soundtracked electroViking rock ’n’ roll carnage, this is a hoot of a movie, establishing Waititi as the new trickster god of the MCU. Nick Setchfield
The film never stops winking at us
Taika Waititi voices Korg, a Kronan. Also known as the Stone Men of Saturn, they were Thor’s first foes in the comics.
They couldn’t find any armour to fit Hulk. Hulk mad.