Montreal Gazette review of THOR: RAGNAROK

HAMMER AND SNICKER

Thor shows his wisecracking side

PHOTOS: MARVEL STUDIOS Chris Hemsworth has a rough ride in Thor: Ragnarok — he loses his hammer and, among other things, is forcibly barbered. But he does gain a sense of humour.

THOR: RAGNAROK

★★★ out of 5

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tessa Thompson Director: Taika Waititi

Duration: 2 h 10 m

In Norse mythology, “Ragnarok” refers to an end-of-days cataclysm, like Armageddon, doomsday or Zac Efron films. But in the Marvel universe it may mean something akin to embarrassment or humiliation. In this movie, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) gets tied up, locked up, teleported, electric-shocked, captured, dumped, Hulked and forcibly barbered. He even loses his hammer, leaving him looking like a traveller whose Uber app just failed.

But somehow, he comes out of it all with a sense of humour, which is even more amazing when you recall that he didn’t go in with one. In other stand-alone outings, 2011’s Thor and 2013’s The Dark World, as well as various ensemble pictures, he’s the least jolly Avenger. Now he quips like he’s been taking lessons from Iron Man.

It’s hard to know which writer to praise for this — Ragnarok has three, as well as the various “based on the comics by” credits — so I’m going to suggest we all hail Taika Waititi, the New Zealand director of such fun low-budget buffoonery as Eagle vs. Shark, What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

Not only has Waititi made an impressive leap into the almost giga-dollar budget range (those other movies were made for about $5 million, combined), but he also appears as Korg, the deferential dungeon master on planet Sakaar, where the de-hammered Thor is taken to participate in gladiatorial games. Running the show there is Jeff Goldblum. He calls himself Grandmaster, though I don’t think he has the mental chops for chess. In fact, his greatest skill seems to be that of trailing off in mid-sentence, a talent he takes to new …

Anyway, Ragnarok is just the latest in 2017’s bumper crop of superhero flicks, which includes Marvel’s Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming; DC’s Wonder Woman and the upcoming Justice League. Not to mention (do we have to?) the underwhelming Dark Universe curtain-raiser that was The Mummy.

And while I know these movies are planned out years in advance, it feels like Thor’s newest has lifted a page from Wonder Woman’s playbook, with the inclusion of Tessa Thompson as SR-142, a hard-drinking Valkyrie from Thor’s home world. Not only that, but Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song, used in two separate battle sequences, sounds a lot like a certain Amazonian princess’s theme music.

Ragnarok also introduces that Marvel rarity, a female villain, although Cate Blanchett’s Hela looks to have built her wardrobe and decorating choices on those of Angelina Jolie in Maleficent — same basic costume with a bigger rack of antlers. She’s Thor’s twisted sister, but can’t really compete with Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, back from the dead and proving once again that if duplicity were a sport he would somehow both win and lose while cheating, playing by the rules and also making up his own.

Hela is the main plot driver, arriving on Thor’s planet and threatening to take over, even as another more computer-generated baddie prepares to destroy the whole place. Thor has to get home and stop them.

All this and I haven’t even gotten to Mark Ruffalo’s turn as Hulk, who like Thor gets to be more loquacious and wittier within Ragnarok’s shambolic buddy-picture framework.

He does not, alas, get to say: “Hulk more loquacious and wittier!”

Waititi snags most of the best lines for his own character, including a naughty joke that will sail over the heads of any youngsters not versed in New Zealand or British sexual slang, and this lovely little axiom: “The only thing here that makes sense is that nothing makes sense.” That’s Ragnarok in a nutshell. Put your brain in neutral and enjoy!

HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN™ IN CONCERT

Tickets go on sale November 4th at noon.

HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN™ IN CONCERT

June 1 and 2, 2018

Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier

Continue to relive the magic with the third installment of J.K. Rowling’s classic saga about your favourite wizard, accompanied by the Oscar®-nominated score by John Williams, performed by live orchestra and choir.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry, Ron, and Hermione, return for their third year at Hogwarts™, and must face the darkest forces of magic yet. They spend the year learning about Hippogriffs, Boggarts, and Dementors™, how to use the Marauder’s Map and the Patronus Charm, all while the threat of escaped prisoner Sirius Black™ looms large. With his best friends, Harry masters advanced magic, crosses the barriers of time and changes the course of more than one life.

Original film will be shown with French subtitles.

 

On sale : November 4 at noon

A Couple of Star Wars stories

IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR. TIME Magazine anointed this pair the winners of the internet’s Halloween costume contest:  “This Couple Won Halloween By Pranking People With Their ‘Levitating’ Star Wars Bike”.

The Force is strong in this video. So let the world know if you think we won halloween and share the video!!! How we built the bikes: http://bit.ly/2xyTYMn

TALESPINNER. Ken Liu’s Star Wars book is out today.

Star Wars: Legends of Luke Skywalker [is] a set of tall tales about the Jedi Knight that have been passing from cantina to freighter and from mouth to audio receptor ever since a certain farm boy left Tatooine for the wider galaxy far, far away…

Devan Coggan interviews me for Entertainment Weekly: “Ken Liu Tells Star Wars Tall Tales in The Legends of Luke Skywalker”:

Legends follows a number of young deckhands working aboard a ship bound for Canto Bight (a casino world featured in the upcoming The Last Jedi). Together, they swap six different stories about Luke, each passed down from a different storyteller. One comes from a droid who claims to have witnessed Luke singlehandedly lead a droid rebellion, while another comes from a tiny, flea-like creature who claims to have had a pivotal role in Luke’s escape from Jabba’s palace. One of the particular highlights is the tale told by a former Imperial engineer, who says that Luke Skywalker was nothing but a piece of propaganda made up by the Rebellion. The real Luke is a con artist named Luke Clodplodder, who orchestrated a massive scam with his friends aboard a ship called the Century Turkey.