For a re­view of “Thor: Ragnarok,”

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None of us doubted that Cate Blanchett would make a kick­ass comic- book- movie vil­lain, did we? There she is, in Taika Waititi’s goofily en­ter­tain­ing “Thor: Ragnarok,” as Hela, God­dess of Death, styled like a malev­o­lent com­bi­na­tion of Cat­woman and Cher. ( Her out­fit nods to the cur­rent bare shoul­der fash­ion trend; ap­par­ently god­desses also read Vogue.)

She’s been locked away for an eter­nity, we learn, so she’s un­der­stand­ably cranky — smooth­ing back her hair in a threat­en­ing man­ner ( you quickly learn to flinch when she does this), hiss­ing her lines in a re­frig­er­ated dead­pan. Now freed, her silky evil­ness knows no bounds. Does Thor ( Chris Hemsworth) and his ham­mer pos­si­bly have a chance against such a foe?

The hap­pi­est sur­prise of this third “Thor” in­stall­ment isn’t that Blanchett is such a kick — come on, you knew she would be — but that the rest of the­movie is, too.

Waititi, the New Zealan­der whose cred­its in­clude the ir­re­sistible vam­pire mock­u­men­tary “What We Do in the Shad­ows” ( if you haven’t seen it al­ready, have I got a Hal­loween- week movie pick for you) gives the fa­mil­iar su­per­hero for­mula a cheeky nudge.

The plot’s the usual sav­ing-the- world stuff — in this case, the world is Thor’s home­land As­gard— and the spe­cial ef­fects and bat­tle scenes are zippy but fa­mil­iar. ( Dis­claimer: At the screen­ing I at­tended, the sound cut out in the last minute or so of the film, so I sup­pose it’s pos­si­ble that Thor and the gang closed things out by recit­ing T. S. Eliot or speak­ing Klin­gon or singing a song from “Les Mis.” But I’ve been as­sured that they didn’t. Some­body please tell me if they did.)

No, the fun here is in the lit­tle mo­ments the ac­tors find, and in the way that Waititi, within the mas­sive ma­chine that is a stu­dio su­per­hero movie, brings out a loose­ness and play­ful­ness in the per­for­mances. Tom Hid­dle­ston’s Loki re­mains an ir­re­sistible bad boy, slyly smil­ing to him­self as he re­mem­bers a mis­deed; Tessa Thomp­son, as the hard­drink­ing war­rior Valkyrie, gets a hi­lar­i­ous en­trance to the fran­chise as she ex­pertly falls off a ramp; Jeff Gold­blum, sport­ing blue eye­liner and a campy em­cee- of- a- re­al­i­tyshow vibe, lan­guidly saun­ters off with all of his scenes.

Hemsworth’s Thor, that most lunk­ishly lik­able of su­per­heroes, car­ries this fran­chise as lightly as he tosses that ham­mer. He’s even got a per­fect lit­tle rom­com mo­ment, when he tries to ap­pear suavely ca­sual but doesn’t knowwhat to do with his hands. ( Even Norse gods, it seems, have mo­ments they’d like to do over.) And Waititi him­self sup­plies the movie’s off­beat heart as Korg, a crea­ture made of rocks who lum­bers through the ac­tion with a re­signed, New Zealand- ac­cented cheer­ful­ness. “I tried to start a rev­o­lu­tion,” he of­fers, “but I didn’t print enough pam­phlets.” Good fun, all of it.

“Thor: Ragnarok,” a Marvel Stu­dios re­lease, is rated PG- 13 for in­tense se­quences of sci- fi vi­o­lence and ac­tion, and brief sug­ges­tive ma­te­rial. Run­ning time: 130 min­utes. ★★★  

“Bad Moms Christ­mas”

In “A Bad Moms Christ­mas,” it’s double the moms, double the bad.

Last time around, a year and change ago, the “Bad Moms” were just a trio of Wine Moms — Amy ( Mila Ku­nis), Kiki ( Kris­ten Bell) and Carla ( Kathryn Hahn) — let­ting loose with some shots while let­ting go of per­fec­tion­ism.

Now their moms — Ruth ( Chris­tine Baran­ski), Sandy ( Ch­eryl Hines) and Isis ( Su­san Saran­don) — are in town for the hol­i­days, and we’ve got a ver­i­ta­ble cor­nu­copia of naughty mom­mies.

“Bad Moms”: now with more emo­tional ma­nip­u­la­tion.

The ex­is­ten­tial plight of the Wine Mom— who seeks re­lief from the crush­ing weight of het­eronor­ma­tive cap­i­tal­ist pa­tri­archy at the bot­tom of a chardon­nay bot­tle— is a real cul­tural cri­sis. Some­one should shine a light on this, but co- writ­ers and codi­rec­tors Jon Lu­cas and Scott Moore are not those sto­ry­tellers.

Mostly be­cause one has to won­der if Lu­cas and Moore have ever even met hu­man women. Th­ese char­ac­ters are car­toon­ish campy drag per­sonae of women, cat­e­go­rized by their at­tributes, like Santa’s rein­deer or the Smurfs: Stressy, Crazy, Slutty, Crit­i­cal, Clingy and Drifter.

Ku­nis stars as Amy, al­ways har­ried, al­ways “busy.” She’s di­vorced with a cou­ple of kids ( Oona Lau­rence and Em­jay An­thony), whom she war­ily ap­prises, as if she’s not quite sure who they are or why they’re in her house. She shares the same chem­istry with Baran­ski and Peter Gal­lagher, who play her par­ents, treat­ing them like a cou­ple of way­ward strangers.

With her gal pals, it’s all forced fun, loud laugh­ing, cheers- ing and dec­la­ra­tions of “let’s take back Christ­mas!”

“Bad Moms” seemed to spring froma sin­gle in­spi­ra­tional scene, with the rest of the movie writ­ten around it ( moms go­ing crazy at a house party), and “A Bad Moms Christ­mas” takes the same ap­proach. So when the “twerk­ing on Santa” se­quence is over within the first 10 min­utes, the film is adrift, filled with so much te­dious male strip­per filler ma­te­rial. It’s the “Bad Moms” Meet “Magic Mike” Hol­i­day Ex­trav­a­ganza, only with truly ghastly danc­ing.

“A Bad Moms Christ­mas” is a poorly gift- wrapped Pin­ter­est fail of a movie. The Scotch tape in the equa­tion, bravely strain­ing to hold things to­gether, are the em­phatic line de­liv­er­ies, made to trick us into think­ing lines that are not jokes are, ac­tu­ally, jokes. The bows and trim, at­tempt­ing to dis­tract from ob­vi­ous seams, are the end­less slow- mo­tion mon­tages of may­hem set to pop tunes.

Baran­ski is won­der­fully sharp as the mon­strous Type A 1 per­center Ruth, and she does get a few amaz­ing lines (“those or­na­ments are from the Ti­tanic! That ice is from the moon! Moon ice!” she shrieks, as she and her daugh­ter sym­bol­i­cally tus­sle over a Christ­mas tree). Hines is also de­light­fully sur­real as the over­pro­tec­tive Sandy. Hahn is al­ways the best around, but you can’t help but in­ter­nally scream “this is be­neath you!” al­most every mo­ment she’s on screen.

What’s of­fen­sive about “A Bad Moms Christ­mas” ( and “Bad Moms”) is just how shod­dily made it is. Fe­male au­di­ences de­serve bet­ter movies than this. Fur­ther­more, it po­si­tions the en­e­mies of moms as other moms— not the rigidly gen­dered so­cial struc­tures and ex­pec­ta­tions that de­mand women do the ma­jor­ity of the do­mes­tic and emo­tional la­bor. Rather than men or money be­ing the en­emy, it’s other women, and that’s not fair. Here’s to hop­ing for “A Bad Moms Rev­o­lu­tion” as the fi­nal in­stall­ment.

“Bad Moms Christ­mas,” a STX En­ter­tain­ment re­lease, is rated R for crude sex­ual con­tent and lan­guage through­out, and some drug use. Run­ning time: 104 min­utes. ★ ½


“A Bad Moms Christ­mas” stars, from left, Kris­ten Bell, Mila Ku­nis and Kathryn Hahn.

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