Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Thor: Ragnarok (2017): based on characters and stories by Jack Kirby, Walt Simonson, Sal Buscema, Larry Lieber, Stan Lee, and others; written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost; directed by Taika Waititi; starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Cate Blanchett (Hela), Idris Elba (Heimdall), Mark Ruffalo (Banner/Hulk), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), Jeff Goldblum (Grandmaster), and Karl Urban (Skurge the Executioner): Almost too jolly and jaunty an entry in the Marvel Movie Sweepstakes, given the death toll in the movie. Reducing Gotterdammerung to a punchline seems both too much and not enough.

Oh, well. Thor: Ragnarok is also the Marvel movie that looks most like the comic books it's based on, particularly Jack Kirby's 1960's work on Thor and Walt Simonson's writer-artist duties on his great Thor run of the 1980's. 

The tone is really more Simonson than Kirby -- there was a jocularity and a sense of the absurd to his run, though he was better than the film-makers at balancing the epic and the absurd. Full credit to director Taika Waititi, whose What We Do In the Shadows was an absurdly hilarious faux-documentary. 

The movie goes on about 15 minutes' worth of CGI battles too long. All the actors are as fresh and lively as in any Marvel production to date, and Cate Blanchett camps it up as super-villain Hela, whose crazy head-piece comes right off the Jack Kirby pages (so, too, the designs of many of the aliens in campy Jeff Goldblum's space-court, extras from Kirby's 1970's space-god saga The Eternals). Even Bruce Banner and the Hulk are funny. Recommended.

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