Thor: Ragnarok (Taika Waititi, 2017)

What's it about?, sorry....God of Thunder Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must again save Asgard from destruction, this time at the hands of his war-mongering sister Hela (Cate Blanchett). Along the way Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), Heimdall (Idris Elba) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) all turn up for the ride.

Is it any good? Enormous fun, thanks mainly to the comic sensibilities of director Waititi. Clearly aware of the absurdity of the story he's telling, he revels in the inherent silliness, eschewing anything as po-faced as depth or politics in favour of slapstick and jokes. All of which is very funny, as fans of Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We Do in the Shadows might expect, but crucially never derisory or cynical about the characters. Taking their lead from him, the cast are all on good comic form, with Hemsworth in particular relishing the chance to display his funny bone as well as his physique. It's Waititi himself who steals the show, though, voicing the benevolent revolutionary rock-monster Korg who gets the best lines and the biggest laughs.
"It's me! Taika! The director?"
Of course, it's stopped short of being an out-and-out comedy by the somewhat inflexible Marvel movie template, which demands regular beats of crash-bang-wallop action, crossover franchise cameos and no small amount of CGI. In these moments, competent though they are, Thor:Ragnarok does little to differentiate itself from its MCU counterparts, even with the smart use of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song as accompaniment. Neither is Blanchett given much to do except look pretty fabulous in her black villain head-dress. Nonetheless, Waititi's achievements in blending his own inimitable style with the all-conquering Marvel brand is perhaps only matched in the MCU by Shane Black with the similarly comic Iron Man 3. It's an impressive balancing act, although no doubt Waititi would want to end it with a funny pratfall.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Last time I looked, this had an impressive 95% at Rotten Tomatoes, the highest score for any Marvel movie to date, demonstrating that it's a big hit with critics as well as audiences. Comic-book are pleased that the well-regarded Planet Hulk storyline has been spliced into the plot, but Waititi himself has indicated that camp 80s classics Flash Gordon and Big Trouble in Little China were big influences, which should tell you something about the tone the film adopts. All it's missing is Brian Blessed bellowing in a valkyrie outfit!

What does the Fonz think? Stop Laughing! It's Hammertime!

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