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THOR: RAGNAROK (2017) – My rating: 9/10

Thor: Ragnarok is a superhero action film based on the Marvel Comics character Thor and is the sequel to 2013’s Thor: The Dark World. The film is directed by Taika Waititi from a screenplay by Eric Pearson and the writing team of Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost.  It is my humble opinion that Thor: Ragnarok is the best of the Thor trilogy.  It’s well written with an excellent plot and an enjoyable host of characters, new and old.  As of late, we’ve been bombarded with super heroes and gods from other planets as well as AFI, cyborgs, robots and transforming machines that come to save or destroy the world, in abundance.  Not that Thor is not more of the aforementioned group, it’s just more relatable and pleasant in terms of the human aspect.

Thor opens two years after the Battle of Sokovia with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) imprisoned by the fire demon Surtur (Clancy Brown (voice)) on the alien planet of Sakaar.  Surtur reveals that Thor’s father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is no longer on Asgard and that the realm will soon be destroyed in the prophesied Ragnarök once he successfully unites his crown with the Eternal Flame that burns beneath the city.  Thor manages to break loose and defeat Surtur, confiscating the crown and stopping the impending Ragnarök.

Thor returns to Asgard to find his adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) posing as his father. Thor forces Loki to help him find their father and with directions from Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) on Earth, they locate Odin in Norway. Odin explains that he is dying, and that his passing will allow his firstborn child, Hela (Cate Blanchett), to escape from a prison she was sealed in long ago. Hela had been the leader of Asgard’s armies, and had conquered the Nine Realms with Odin, but had been imprisoned and written out of history after her ambitions became too great. Odin dies, and Hela appears. She destroys Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, and when Thor and Loki attempt to flee through the Bifröst Bridge, she pursues them and forces them out into space to die. Hela arrives in Asgard, destroying its army and the Warriors Three; resurrects the ancient dead who once fought with her, including her giant wolf Fenris; and appoints the Asgardian Skurge (Karl Urban) as her executioner. She plans to use the Bifröst to expand Asgard’s empire, but Heimdall (Idris Elba) covertly steals the sword that controls the Bridge, and hides away with the rest of Asgard’s citizens.

Thor crash-lands on Sakaar, a garbage planet surrounded by wormholes. He is captured by a bounty hunter named Scrapper 142 / Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and taken to serve as a gladiator for the planet’s ruler, the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), with whom Loki has already become ingratiated. Thor recognizes 142 as one of the Valkyrior, a legendary force of female fighters who were killed defending Asgard from Hela long ago. Thor is forced to compete in the Grandmaster’s Contest of Champions, facing his old friend the Hulk / Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo).

As you can see, Thor: Ragnarok has extensive content.  This is just an introduction into a brilliant story of survival, love and leadership with loads of action and fantasy.  There are more twist and turns than I can count and I promise, you won’t be bored.  I loved all the character revivals and introductions.  Good job, good message, good movie and brilliant acting.

I’ve provided some additional history into a few of the characters, compliments of : Kevin Feige, Taika Waititi and the cast of Thor: Ragnarok at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con

WARNING — LOTS OF SPOILERS BELOW:

  • Chris Hemsworth as Thor:
    The crown prince of Asgard based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name, who has become a “lone gunslinger” searching for the Infinity Stones. Hemsworth had become “a bit bored” with the character after portraying Thor four times previously, and wanted to take some risks and experiment: the character has shorter hair in the film, wears a different outfit, his hammer Mjolnir is destroyed and he loses an eye. Director Taika Waititi added that “stripping” the character down like this allowed him to become a refugee at the end of the film. Waititi also wanted to use more of Hemsworth’s comedic talents showcased in films like Vacation (2015) and Ghostbusters (2016), and cited Kurt Russell’s portrayal of Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China as an influence on the character.
  • Tom Hiddleston as Loki:
    Thor’s adoptive brother and nemesis based on the deity of the same name.  Hiddleston was interested in how Loki’s attitude has changed, saying, “he is always a trickster. It is trying to find new ways for him to be mischievous”. As the ruler of Asgard since the end of Thor: The Dark World, Hiddleston notes that “Loki has devoted most of his efforts to narcissistic self-glorification. Not so much on good governance.” He also added that “the idea that Thor might be indifferent to Loki is troubling for him, because that’s a defining feature of his character … ‘My brother doesn’t love me; I hate my brother.’ And the idea his brother’s like, yeah, whatever, it’s an interesting development.”
  • Cate Blanchett as Hela:
    Odin’s first born child and the goddess of death, based on the deity Hel, who is inadvertently released from her prison. Blanchett noted the difficulty of playing the role in a motion capture suit rather than costume, feeling the character’s headdress is “such a huge part of when she comes into the height of her powers in the film”. Hela’s design was taken from Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron, while the character Gorr from that comic, who has the ability “to manifest an infinite number of weapons”, inspired a similar ability for Hela. Blanchett worked with stuntwoman Zoë Bell, Hemsworth’s personal trainer Luke Zocchi, and studied capoeira for the role.
  • Idris Elba as Heimdall:
    The all-seeing, all-hearing Asgardian sentry of the Bifröst Bridge, based on the deity of the same name, who has gone into self-imposed exile during Loki’s reign. After Hela invades Asgard, he helps to hide its vulnerable citizens. Describing Heimdall’s character arc in the film, Winderbaum says, “he’s gone from this elder statesmen, the gatekeeper to Asgard, to this badass warrior-wizard character who lives in the hills and kicks a lot of ass throughout the entire film.”
  • Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster:
    One of the Elders of the Universe who rules the planet Sakaar, and enjoys manipulating lesser life-forms. Goldblum described the character as “a hedonist, a pleasure-seeker, an enjoyer of life and tastes and smells”. He also said that Waititi encouraged improvisation in order for Goldblum to “make [the character his] own”. Waititi explained that Grandmaster does not have blue skin in the film as the character does in the comics, because Goldblum had already played a blue-colored character in Earth Girls Are Easy, and because Waititi did not want to detract from Goldblum’s personality by concealing his appearance. Grandmaster is the brother of Benicio del Toro’s Collector from Guardians of the Galaxy, and producer Kevin Feige expressed interest in seeing the two together in a future film.
  • Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie:
    A tough, hard-drinking Asgardian bounty hunter, based on the mythological being Brynhildr, who was once a legendary warrior of the Valkyrior and now works for the Grandmaster under the designation “Scrapper 142”. Thompson said the various versions of the character from the comics “left us a lot of leeway” in creating the film version.[20] Waititi “wanted to make sure we weren’t making a female character that was boring and pretty” and Feige said Marvel wanted to pair Thor with a love interest more his equal than Jane Foster. Thompson was inspired by pictures of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day while training for the role and worked with dialect coach Andrew Jack to create an Asgardian-sounding accent that was different enough to sound like she had been away from there for a long time. Thompson will appear in future MCU films.
  • Karl Urban as Skurge:
    An Asgardian warrior, who guards the Bifröst Bridge in Heimdall’s absence and chooses to join Hela to survive. Urban shaved his head for the role, and worked out to “get into the zone and feel” the part even though his body is hidden under a costume. Urban said Skurge “makes a deal with the devil” and becomes Hela’s “henchman. He does the dirty jobs. And that sort of is something he has to—it plays on his conscience.”
  • Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner / Hulk:
    A genius scientist who, because of exposure to gamma radiation, transforms into a monster when enraged or agitated. He becomes a successful and popular gladiator on Sakaar. He is in “perma-Hulk mode”, having suppressed the Banner side for a few years, and forming the vocabulary “of a toddler” with the level of Hulk’s speech being “a big conversation” between Waititi and Marvel since it was taking into account future appearances for the character. Ragnarok begins an arc for the character that continues in Avengers: Infinity War and its untitled sequel, stemming from discussions Ruffalo had with Feige.  Ruffalo felt Hulk was “much more of a character than the green rage machine you’ve seen in the Avengers movies. He’s got a swagger.” Waititi provided additional motion capture for the Hulk after Ruffalo had completed his scenes.
  • Anthony Hopkins as Odin:
    The king of Asgard, father of Thor, and adoptive father of Loki, based on the deity of the same name. The character is in exile on Earth, and was originally intended to be a “crazy-looking” hobo on the streets of New York City, but Waititi ultimately felt that this was tragic rather than funny given the character’s death during the sequence. The sequence was changed to take place in Norway, to “honor” the character’s past and be more authentic to his role as a king of Asgard. Waititi was surprised by the improvisational ability of Hopkins after he was told “to be funny and to really destroy what’s come before [with the role] and recreate it.”

Additionally, Tadanobu Asano, Ray Stevenson, and Zachary Levi reprise their roles as Hogun, Volstagg, and Fandral, respectively, members of the Warriors Three.  They are all killed early in the film, which Feige called “noble ends” that served to establish the threat of Hela and the danger she poses to the main characters. Benedict Cumberbatch reprises his role as Stephen Strange from the film Doctor Strange. Rachel House, who has appeared in several of Waititi’s films, plays Topaz, the Grandmaster’s bodyguard, while Waititi portrays Korg, a gladiator who befriends Thor. Waititi provided a motion-capture performance for the character, who is made of rocks, and wanted to do something different by having the character be soft-spoken, ultimately basing Korg’s voice on that of Polynesian bouncers. Waititi also provided the motion-capture performance for the fire demon Surtur, based on the mythological being Surtr, with Clancy Brown providing the voice for that character. Thor co-creator Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance as a man on Sakaar who cuts Thor’s hair. There are also several cameos in a sequence where Asgardian actors perform a play based on the events of The Dark World: Sam Neill, who Waititi previously worked with on Hunt for the Wilderpeople, plays the Odin actor; Luke Hemsworth, brother of Chris, plays the Thor actor; and Matt Damon plays the Loki actor.