Sunday 29 October 2017

Thor: Ragnarok by Pearson, Kyle and Yost

Okay, I feel I owe you an apology. Because here I am again writing about another silly Marvel comic book movie. Believe me, I didn't want to...

But the damned things have been so good lately. The film makers have hit a sweet spot balancing humour and thrills. 

And the result is a long run of Marvel adaptations which have been fresh and imaginative (Doctor Strange,  Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Spiderman: Homecoming have been three recent examples).

And Thor: Ragnarok is no exception. As a matter of fact it won me over almost completely in just the first few moments. Because it's funny. Genuinely, richly, warmly funny.

Which is not to say it fails to deliver on thrills, suspense and occasionally very dark happenings. But humour is always an option, whether an evil superbeing has his big speech undercut by misbehaving equipment or the God of Thunder is ticked off because people keep getting his title wrong.

Since I'm a writer myself this blog tends to be writer-centric. But due credit must be given here to the director of Thor: Ragnarok, one Taika Waititi, a New Zealander who was responsible for a very amusing 2014 faux-documentary about vampires (with a few werewolves thrown in) called What We Do in the Shadows.

No doubt Waititi's knack for comedy is a major reason that the new Thor movie is so good. But we should also acknowledge the three credited writers — Eric Pearson who worked on the Agent Carter TV show and Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost who co-created the animated Iron Man: Armoured Adventures TV series. Yost was also one of the writers credited on the second Thor movie, The Dark World.

Where Thor: Ragnarok really scores, though, is in its fine cast. Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Tom Hiddleston as Loki have already established their value. But this time around they are joined by an eccentric Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, who provides a lot of the movie's fun.

But it is Tessa Thompson (last seen by me in Veronica Mars) who really delights as a drunken Valkyrie, who is so soused that she falls over when she makes her grand entrance. Mark Ruffalo — when he's not a big green Hulk — is charmingly smitten with her, and one can only sympathise.

Balancing the comedy is Cate Blanchett who as Hela pulls off the difficult task of making an evil super villain effective instead of silly. She is chillingly weird and dangerous, with just a subtle hint of humour.

So there you have it. Another Marvel movie which is well worth a look. My only complaint is that we never got to see Hela ride her giant Fenris wolf.

(Image credits: the posters are from Imp Awards, where Tessa Thompson as the Valkyrie is disappointingly under-represented.)

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