Friday, November 24, 2017

Thunder, Muscle, and Ships

The end of the world is a really colourful, light hearted adventure in 2017's Thor: Ragnarok. Far from the layered family drama of the first film but a lot better than the weak sitcom tone of the second film, this third entry in the Thor series directed by Taika Waititi is about as far from grim as you can get for a superhero film that still takes itself relatively seriously.

Right from the beginning the film indulges in some mildly self-aware, ironic humour that would have been perfectly at home on Harvey Birdman when Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in chains chats with a massive fiery demon about whether the thing on his head is a crown or eyebrows. But there's sincerity in the film, too, with scenes between Thor, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and Odin (Anthony Hopkins) played straight to get at some of the pain in their frequently strained family bond. Though it's hard to see this glib Thor as the earnest, slightly simple jock from the first film or this Loki the man burning with jealousy as his superior intelligence has gone unrecognised throughout his life. Thor and Loki in this film are closer to Bing Crosby and Bob Hope and they have some of that charm, too.

Added to their party is Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and the Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). Valkyrie is an entertaining, cynical, drunken slave trader, mostly played for laughs but she's effective, too, in moments that refer to her history in Asgard. For all the space opera and flippancy, there are still moments in the film that celebrate the Norse mythology aesthetic in ways that any metal head would be proud to see painted on the side of his van.

Mark Ruffalo, meanwhile, is good as the surprisingly easy going Hulk and the fish out of water Banner, playing the former like a football player and the latter like he's in a perpetual state of just having woken with the worst hangover with no idea where he is.

Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster is fine and takes to the film's camp humour like a fish to water but Cate Blanchett definitely wins best villain in this film.

Combining a fantastic visual design augmenting the character's original comic look with a wonderfully vicious performance she's a first rate Goddess of Death. The action scenes lack the urgency of scenes where we sense people can actually get hurt but they're nicely choreographed and have some basic kinetic joy to them. All in all, a fun little Technicolour romp.

Twitter Sonnet #1057

The flour drain sustained a bucket hat.
Ignoble rows of damaged crops returned.
In lines of dots the printer gave a bat.
A breath of air dispensed to all concerned.
A line of faces shared a single wig.
Upon the rocky edge were painted hills.
In flying east we sought the crimson pig.
A trail emerged of sev'ral tardy bills.
A wind's connecting verse to muted chimes.
Of salt and gold and grain the Sampo yields.
A lemon kind and tall'll jump in times.
A single moose becomes a dozen fields.
The iron pot above the bed's for dreams.
But boiling thoughts escape the rigid seams.

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