Belfast Telegraph

Thor: Ragnarok - Latest Marvel instalment rocks and rolls with the punches


By Damon Smith

Three is the magic number for Marvel Comics' dreamy incarnation of the hammer-wielding Norse god of thunder.

Portrayed on screen since 2011 by Chris Hemsworth with flowing golden locks, gym-sculpted abs and laid-back Antipodean charm, Thor finally gets into an otherworldly groove in this third solo outing directed to the comic hilt by Taika Waititi.

The celebrated New Zealand film-maker and a trio of screenwriters adhere to a classic three-act structure for their heady brew of rip-roaring action adventure, bone-dry humour and dazzling spectacle that positions this gung-ho chapter closer to Guardians Of The Galaxy than its brawny predecessors.

In front of the camera, a holy trinity of Oscar winners chews the multimillion-dollar scenery with fervour, including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Cate Blanchett and an uncredited Hollywood star serving up theatrical ham in extremis.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) sits undeservedly on Asgard's throne, fashioning the kingdom in his narcissistic image, oblivious to storm clouds billowing on the horizon.

Noble sentry Heimdall (Idris Elba) no longer stands guard on the Bifrost Bridge - he has been usurped by an ambitious whelp called Skurge (Karl Urban).

Meanwhile, Loki's father Odin (Hopkins) has been ushered into early retirement, which inadvertently releases Hela (Blanchett) from her prison where she has languished for millennia.

An initial showdown between Thor (Hemsworth) and Hela culminates in victory to the vengeance-seeking goddess.

The fallen champion is cast out to Planet Sakaar, where he is captured by a mysterious merchant (Tessa Thompson). She sells him to the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), a hedonistic, gambling-mad Elder of the Universe.

From its droll opening scene, Waititi's picture is a blast.

Four stars

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