thOr: rag­narOK

Kiss my As­gard

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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.

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