Thor: Ragnarok (12)

It was a huge gamble for Marvel to hand the reigns over to the hitherto little-known director Taika Waititi for the third installment of the massively successful Thor corner (maybe that should be ‘Thorner’?) of the MCU.

Having previosuly directed episodes of surreal New Zealand comedy ‘Flight Of The Conchords’ and Empire Magazine’s offbeat choice of favourite film of last year ‘Hunt For The Wilderpeople’ the stakes were higher than ever when handing Taiki a $180 million dollar budget to direct one of the most eagerly anticipated scif-fi action comic blockbusters of the year.

Fortunately, for all concerned, the gamble has paid off (as if Marvel ever had any doubts!?). Big time.

Thor: Ragnarok has proved to be a massive success of course. Budgeted at $180 million and currently raking in almost $528 million dollars (and counting), and the film had scored rave reviews internationally plus a whopping 8.2 on IMDB. Safe to say, the results and the reviews having been fantastic. But what of the film itself, in my opinion?

Well, having watched it over a week ago now, I still find myself chuckling unexpectedly at some of the one-liners contained there-in: it definitely leans more towards the comedy angle, which is totally expected given the Director’s comedy pedigree, but this doesn’t mean that the action is sparse either. There is a very surreal streak of comedy running throughout the film, which is difficlt to convey accurateky in print but, trust me, it is hilarious.

Self-deprecating, witty, quick-fire, irreverent and pithy are just some of the adjectives I could throw at it, with Chris Hemsworth’s immaculate comedy timing complimented very nicely by Jeff Goldblum’s jittery, hesitant comedy-stylings as ‘The Grandmaster’ of landfill-planet Sakaar. His interplay with his ‘Melt-Stick’-happy henchwoman ‘Topaz’ is pure comedy gold.

Much like both volumes of Guardians Of The Galaxy, most of the runaway laughs come courtesy of a hulking blue alien, this time named ‘Korg’, a gladitorial rock-warrior voiced by Waititi himself who is absolutely screaming out for his own film. He easily steals the show with his meek, unassuming nature, stream-of-consciousness speech patterns and unexpectedly philosophical nature.

The opening sequence sets the tone for the film as one seriously dreadful foe Surtur (mo-capped by Waititi and voiced by the legendary Clancy Brown) fails spectacularly in his attempts to instill crippling fear into the mighty Thor as he is dangled in a net-bag like a giant Satsuma.

The action is slick, exciting and consistently peppered with surreal humour and Cate Blanchett’s Hela adds a superbly dark and gothic (not to mention quite intentionally fetishistic) element to the story as the origins of Asgard proves to be not so resplendantly wholesome after all.

The improvisitional nature of Waititi’s comedy has clearly given the film a fresh and funny approach and an early encounter in New York with another major MCU character is genuinely hilarious. Researching behind the scenes has also revealed that Waititi encouraged much of the film’s humour to be freestyled and then cherry-picked the best gags from the comedically-rich improvised takes from the cast.

The literally devastating and controversial ending – of course I’m saying nothing – has set the film up very nicely for not only the inevitable Thor 4 but also next April’s ‘Avengers: Infinity Wars – Part One’.

Much has been made of the gladitorial duel between Thor and Hulk featured in the trailer and the finished results don’t dissapoint and the pivotal scene is an instant-classic in the MCU, a brilliant mix of humour and thrills.

One character I did have problems getting to grips with was Karl Urban’s Skurge The Executioner, a tattooed, shaven-headed Cockernee Royal Executioner so stereotypically (and inexplicably) Landuner, I found him quite painful to watch at times. Mainly because I’m really fed up of British characters being represented by either Doimand Gee-Zaa’s or Hugh Grant-style Toffs from oh-so affluent Henley-On-The-Wold types. Mercifully, his character is not in the film enough to spoil it but it came close, I must say.

The character devlopment of The Hulk, Valykrie, Thor and Loki are nicely balanced with action and humour and one major character gets a beautifully understated and poignant  send-off.

All-in-all, a terrifically entertaining, constantly funny and action-packed Threequel – I would argue is the best Thor film to date (and easily the funniest) – which takes the “Thorner” in some very intriguing directions indeed.

Oh, and the title music is fabulously naff too.

A fabulous addition to the MCU.