The Subterranean: ‘Thor: Ragnorak’ is a merry romp

A review of Thor: Ragnorak

**** out of five stars

Currently in wide release

by Walter G. Tarrow

It’s Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! It’s Fast! It’s Furious! It’s Funny!

Or is it Thor, son of Zorn?

Fox tried out Son of Zorn, a live action/animated comedy, on its TV network last year. It flopped, but Thor: Ragnorak shares many elements with Zorn. And that’s where we are now with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Thor: Ragnorak arrives as the first full-fledged comedy in the MCU, a gag filled, silly, snarky, self-deprecating, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, laugh fest with in-jokes to satisfy the fan base and enough chuckles to entertain the grownups in the audience.

Not to worry, the movie has sufficient serious moments to advance MCU historical facts, characters and storylines. Those moments also serve as the requisite context to enhance the comic shtick, the slapsticky action. It’s a comedy for the gamer generation with extremely fast cuts, arena combat, melees and battles with Bosses. We already know Thor, Loki, the Hulk, so most of the supporting character development is superficial, with broadsword strokes, being gamelike to establish powers, skills and alliances.

With a disdain for nuance, casting is less vital than the onscreen characters themselves. The actors are inconsequential. However, rising above their muscled male counterparts, Cate Blanchett as Hela, god of death, and Tessa Thompson the Valkyrie are weaponized cool. The two women are the ultimate badasses while the men, including Thor (Hemsworth), Loki (Hiddleston), Banner (Ruffalo), Skurge (Urban) and Korg (voice of Waititi) are relegated to being the smart asses.

Above all, it does not linger. No shot lasts more than seconds and almost all moments are filled with dialogue and music (courtesy of Mark Mothersbaugh; boy, he’s come a long way since Devo). And the visuals are light years beyond the psychedelic sequence of your grandfather’s head trip 2001. Outlandishly garish with every colour of the Asgardian neon rainbow. Endless stimuli so as not to bore.

And, “throw another shrimp on the barbie,” it has all the irreverence we’ve come to expect and appreciate from our mates down under. With director Waititi from NZ and the majority of the cast from the once thriving British Empire, we get Aussie/NZ/UK accents and TWO Hemsworths.

My one usual complaint about these movies, DC included, is that, like video games, death and destruction are, in the final analysis, irrelevant. If you can respawn over and over again, what’s the big deal? And if such absolute carnage and ruination are meaningless, how are the lives of the little people, the commoner Asgardians, meaningful?

And in the spirit of corporate conspiracy theory, we have a 180-degree shift to the meaning behind Max Frost and the Troopers’ 1968 hit “Nothing Can Change the Shape of Things to Come” where Walt the Man has totally co-opted the MCU. We’re given a peek in the movie of Thor experiencing the upcoming attraction at Disneyland —Thor: Ragnorak the Ride. 

Don’t neglect to stay through the end credits for the obligatory post-credit sequences with one being a link in the MCU chain and the other a toss off joke. Oh, wait, go ahead and leave before then. You’re still free to choose. But not for too much longer…

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