‘Thor’ Sequel Ragna-Rocks [Review]
I don’t know why it took so long for Led Zeppelin’s pummeling anthem “The Immigrant Song”, which includes lyrics about Thor’s “hammer of the gods”, to be used in a live action Thor movie, but it’s about time, and the new sequel Ragnarok finally cranks up the volume to rock it loud and proud, while delivering one of Marvel’s best superhero movies and most certainly the funniest.
Of all of Marvel’s big screen comic book adaptations, Ragnarok feels the most like an actual comic book, as we the viewers are dropped quite literally right into the flaming depths of the hero’s latest mission to stop a devilish-looking giant from bringing on the titular end of Asgard, Thor’s home planet.
About five minutes in, the Zeppelin track hits and it becomes immediately clear that this is not like the other Marvel movies you’ve seen, but rather this is a self-aware new tone that is every bit as hilarious as it is a heartfelt, action-packed, and just plain fun. The film, unlike Thor himself sometimes, never takes itself too seriously, and the entire cast is brilliantly in on the joke.
Early on, Thor loses is signature hammer, which he believes to be the primary source of his powers to summon thunderous storms at will, but that’s just the first change in store on this exhilarating ride.
By the time a certain welcome cameo appearance shows up to cut his long locks of blond hair, it’s apparent that what we’re witnessing is both a literal and figurative transformation into a new Thor from what we saw in the previous films. He has found his true purpose, not simply to be a king following in his father Odin’s footsteps, but to be a warrior hero fighting for good where ever he’s needed.
Chris Hemsworth is comedy gold, more than proving that his talents as a performer go far beyond an undeniably enviable physique.
Loki, Thor’s mischievous half-brother, is back as well, played again by Tom Hiddleston, but this time the brothers find themselves fighting on the same side against a new devious personality with her own plans to kill them all.
Speaking of which, Oscar winner Cate Blanchett owns the screen every scene she’s in as Thor’s exiled-but-now-freed sister Hela, also known as the Goddess of Death, clearly having a wicked good time in a slinky skintight black outfit with wild spiked horns creating a creepy cool crown.
And let’s not forget that Ragnarok also marks the return of The Hulk, who can now talk and still loves to smash stuff. The big green guy has managed to stay in control and has not let his smaller alter ego Bruce Banner (played by Mark Ruffalo) return since we last saw him in Avengers: Age of Ultron two years ago.
His new, more humanistic abilities only make The Hulk that much more lovable, and definitely adds to some of the funniest bits in the film. When we find him, Hulk is the reigning champion in a never-ending gladiatorial fight competition on a planet-sized junk yard that is run by The Grandmaster, played by the perfectly eccentric and always oddly pleasing Jeff Goldblum.
Thor is taken, unwillingly, to The Grandmaster as a potential new “contender” in the fights, after he is captured by a a stumbling drunk former Valkyrie, one of Asgard’s most esteemed soldiers, played with winking badassery by Tessa Thompson.
I won’t spoil how it plays out when Thor is forced to fight against The Hulk, but the mid-movie clash does not disappoint.
Of course it’s all just a prelude to the epic, exciting finale back on Asgard, when this spin-off team of “Revengers” take on Hela and her undead soldiers in the kind of visual spectacle we’ve come to expect from Marvel films. But scored with the classic Zeppelin track again cranked up as the thematic fight song, the eye popping sequence never lets up on the laughs, with just enough heart to keep it real, and it works beautifully.
Thor and The Hulk are better than ever and a new hero is born in the Valkyrie, as Ragnarok reminds us how much fun a comic book movie can be, because, to quote Thor himself, “That’s what heroes do.”
Official Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by: Matt Artz
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Thor: Ragnarok (rated PG13) is now playing locally at RC Theatres in Kill Devil Hills.