One thing I have disliked about the Thor movies is the lack of humor. I thought that was because of Chris Hemsworth or the script, but after the female “Ghostbusters” Hemsworth clearly showed he could shine, even when surrounded by notable comedians. “Thor: Radnarok” takes advantage of Hemsworth’s flare for comedy, but neglects the man who has made Thor’s bearable until now: Tom Hiddleston as the deliciously evil Loki.
Since seeing Hiddleston on stage at D23 Expo where he performed an impromptu “Bare Necessities” for the crowd and after watching his performances in Shakespearean productions, I’ve tried to support his more commercial endeavors. His Loki has been snarling, snarky and had some good lines despite that failure to align Thor and Loki’s accents (although Thor movies tended not to be so talky).
Resetting this new age of Thor, “Thor: Radnarok” begins with humorous dialogue during a dangling danger dilemma. It’s two years after the Battle of Sokovia (the 2015 “Avengers: Age of Ultron”) where Thor explained his vision about the six Infinity Stones, one of which figures in the plot. During the credits of “Age of Ultron,” in a short scene, Thanos decides to look for the Infinity Stones himself. In “Radnarok,” the search for the Infinity Stones has somehow resulted in Thor being captured by a fire demon called Surtur.
While hanging upside down in chains, Thor learns Odin has disappeared from Asgard and Surtur means to fulfill the prophesy of Ragnarök, the destruction of Asgard. Once Surtur unites his crown with the Eternal Flame that burns underneath the city, Surtur will destroy Asgard after a great battle.Despite the dire pronouncements, the laughs are found in Thor’s politeness and this sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Thor does find a way to defeat Surtur, but, well, the movie is named Ragnarök.
Thor returns to Asgard, and sees what seems to be Odin, but, in reality is Loki who has shape-shifted into Odin. Instead of governing, Loki has devoted himself to self-glorification. Searching for Odin, Thor and Loki take a brief excursion to Earth and meet an impatient Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) who directs them to Norway. Odin is dying and upon his death his first-born will inherit the throne to Asgard. Unfortunately, that isn’t Thor because Thor and Loki have an elder sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett).
Hela is a hell-of-a-woman. She helped Odin conquer the nine realms, but couldn’t settle down to the times of peace. And there was a cover-up, literally. As the goddess of death, she doesn’t weep over dead bodies. She might actually prefer them. When Hela clashes with Thor, she easily defeats him, destroying his beloved Mjolnir and forcing Thor and Loki into space.
Space spits Thor out into a galactic junkyard. Loki is nowhere to be seen. Thor is fought over and eventually becomes the prize of an alcoholic woman warrior, Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson). Scrapper 142 takes Thor to the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), a deliriously loopy ruler who keeps his minions complacent by entertaining them with battle to the death. You already know from the trailers, that Thor will be shorn of his long locks and meet up with a green grand champion, who he’ll greet with enthusiasm that confuses the Grandmaster. There will be a battle. Stan Lee will make an appearance and so will Loki. The hard-drinking Scrapper will join forces with Thor and after some fighting and a lot of CGI, end up back at Asgard. These aren’t spoilers; they are all in the trailers.
Under director Taika Waititi (“What We Do in the Shadows”), “Thor: Radnarok” is the most entertaining of the Thor movies. There’s plenty of action and sexy as one expects from this genre. Blanchett oozes with blood lust in a different kind of power suit, one that doesn’t defy gravity (which is a good thing) and one that could be considered sensible sexy super heroine wear. With her as the baddie, there seems almost to little for Hiddleston to do. This script by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost gives Hemsworth’s Thor all the good lines (and Hemsworth is up to them), but what would really ignite the screen, even more than CGI explosions, would be a match of wits and even a few sharp snarks and parries between Loki and Thor.
Finally, this is a Hemsworthy Thor, but a little Loki lacking. Finally, one could imagine Thor as a popular ruler of Asgard. “Thor: Radnarok” is the best so far but hopefully there is better yet to come.