Irreverent, helter-skelter, more colourful than an Oompa Loompa’s cheese dream and just a little off its Ragnarocker (in the best way), Thor: Ragnarok has all the hallmarks of a franchise confident enough to throw the ball to the most singular filmmakers and let them run with it.
Take a bow, then, director Taika Waititi. The New Zealander has somehow parlayed his offbeat comic sensibility straight from indie gems like What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople and on to a canvas a hundred times bigger. There are jokes galore, a headily ’80s vibe, one A-list cameo for the ages and a scene-stealing rock monster called Korg (mo-capped by Waititi himself, presumably on his day off). To crank up the giddiness even further, Jeff Goldblum shows up as the hedonist Grandmaster, a kind of intergalactic emcee who presides over a gladiatorial arena on the glitz-sheened junk planet of Sakaar.
That’s where Thor and Hulk meet again, two years after the events of Age of Ultron, in gladiator combat. But, somewhere amid the buddy-movie mayhem, there’s the threat of an Asgardian apocalypse that must be averted. Also, Thor’s evil big sis, Hela (Cate Blanchett), needs to be neutralised. Fan favourite Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is also back to add slippery charisma.
If Ragnarok is the funniest Marvel movie to date, it’s not without frustrations. The standard third act CGI-fest feels leaden after the zip of what’s come before; it’s overlong and there’s one too many super-powered MacGuffins. But, in a world of portentous blockbusters getting ever darker, it’s a joy to see one throwing on the disco lights.
The bottom line
The funniest, most daft Marvel movie to date.