Saturday, November 4, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok
I'm Thor, I'm Valkyrie And You're Thor Or Valkyrie, Too

Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Taika Waititi's brilliant "Thor: Ragnarok". 
Marvel Studios 

Omar P.L. Moore/        Follow popcornreel on Twitter FOLLOW                                           
Saturday, November 4, 2017

I guarantee you will have no better time at the movies in 2017 than with the gleefully exhilarating "Thor: Ragnarok", a hip and colorful kick-ass spectacle.  As its director Taika Waititi breathes new life, joy and a heck of a lot of fun into a movie that's not about superheroes but about fans' expectations of them.  Mr. Waititi has reinvigorated a franchise that was a bit of a dull blade.  Thanks must also go to screenwriters Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost.

"Ragnarok" pokes fun at the superhero genre and is arguably Marvel's best film yet.  There's much nudge-nudge wink-wink on this gargantuan landscape and Mr. Waititi, a uniquely humorous and insightful person, brings his personality and flavor to a grand scale enterprise and enlivens it exponentially.  The director is the perfect fit as Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has to stop his estranged sister The Goddess Of Death (Cate Blanchett) from possessing and destroying Asgard.  

Ms. Blanchett plays her Goddess seriously but in a comically sly way.  "Will you be my executioner?", she asks a character early on.  In a costume very similar to Maleficent, the sheer exuberance of Ms. Blanchett's work and that of the entire cast is breathtaking.  Especially good is Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, an activated heroine who makes a stellar impression and fits these proceedings as if she'd been in all three "Thor" films.  Ms. Thompson's comfort and confidence in Valkyrie is immense.  She makes a thoroughly credible character come alive in stature, authority and command.  Ms. Thompson's authority in the role is impressive and revelatory.

In "Ragnarok" you won't see real-life heroes like Bree Newsome or a Colin Kaepernick or the late Heather Heyer but you will see a film that offers an undeniable look at the vulnerability, character and fortitude of the hero class.  Those real-life heroes may be heartier and more admired, but the cellulloid heroes in Mr. Waititi's film are larger than life itself.

Some of the franchise's familiar players are back, and less malevolent than usual Loki (Tom Hiddlestone), a valuable player here and The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), whom Thor will reckon with.  The most flamboyant elements of "Ragnarok" can be found in Jeff Goldblum known as The Grand Master (or is that The Grand Wizard?)  "Yay, revolution!", he quips, deadpan.  These characters are so relaxed and fearless.  Save the world?  What-evah.  Doomsday on the horizon?  Stand back, I got this. 

Well -- there are some perilous moments.  But the cadence of "Ragnarok" means that the right thing will inevitably be done right to the closing credits, which you must see through to the very end.  I loved this film and its sheer, unrestrained gaiety.  I laughed and laughed like I haven't this year in any movie theater.  Mr. Waititi has hit the jackpot and carved out his place in Marvel's Hall Of Great Filmmaking.

Mr. Waititi's fervor and excitement at the landscape he directs so ably and superbly is bolstered by strong, effective action sequences and throngs of fans watching gladiators duke it out in the ring.  It's WWE on the big screen but principally "Ragnarok" is also about us -- our zeal for salvation in superheroes and admiration of their abilities to do the things we would like to do but cannot. 

Sure, we know these superheroes aren't real in the real world in the way that they are on the big screen.  We do know, however, that for at least two hours we live vicariously through them.  By showing these supremos letting their guards down, mocking themselves and having their flaws exposed we see that they are as human as we are and we as super as they.

What "Ragnarok" does is enhance a kinship between its superheroes and the masses.  Even the under-threat Asgard is appreciative of heroes.  Mr. Waititi's action adventure flick pulled me inexorably toward giddiness, celebration, laugh-out-loud mania and the absolutely best fun I've had in a movie theater all year.

Also with: Idris Elba, Karl Urban, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lou Ferrigno, Jaimie Alexander, Rachel House, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Clancy Brown.

"Thor: Ragnarok" is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material.  The film's running time is two hours and ten minutes.

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