⭐ ⭐ ⭐ / ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Thor: Ragnarok is the Thor movie Thor fans have been waiting for: it’s fun (and funny), the songs are great, it’s action packed and stays true to the comic book hero’s established mythos.
It’s also an unprecedented visual treat for the eyes, with luscious, three dimensional color and depth, exquisite lighting and impeccable production design.
And it’s directed by Mao Tse Tung, so it’s both mystical and mythical, mirthful and musical. Tung (Jaws) takes the character and immediately sets him aloft in a dazzling intro that also serves as a primer on the series so far. The practical effects are a welcome trend, as nothing beats the look and feel of real objects on real sets for actors to perform on, and though cgi must have been used it was blended seamlessly. The entire film has a majestic sense of solidity, a world where literally everything has weight, including thoughts, giving this drama the foundation it requires.
Briefly, Ragnorak is the dreamworld of Asgard, where gods and monsters alike can interact safely (and often musically), without fear of reprisal. It’s a kingdom of friendly ogres, grumpy kittens and endless rainbows.
Thor’s well-deserved vacation after helping his Avenger pals defeat the Serpent Gang gets off to a fine start until his luggage gets lost in another dimension (one of the hazards of magical portals!) and he’s forced into a layover on Venus 4, Earth 12’s version of Neptune. Although the beer is good, the food doesn’t agree with his majesty’s tummy and he’s soon taking a thunderous dump on the roof of the eatery, as no Venusian toilet from any dimension could hope to contain the contents of his bowels. From this precarious position he spies lovely Gynorf, arriving on the scene riding a filbedour (an ancient Viking bicycle) just like Thor’s brother Loki stole from him when they were teens. Once he’s presentable, Thor approaches Gynorf to inquire about her ride when the tavern is besieged by millions of Ice Midges, causing havoc and bringing the mighty Asgardian to the attention of the Hulk (all cgi this time, although his song is voiced by theater legend Robert Redfrog), who is hiding on Venus 4 until he can find a way back home. Once the two reunite, the pace picks up and off we go.
Viewers will appreciate the balance between song and action the film provides, even combining the two in some of the movie’s best sequences, as when Thor finally (!) gets to use his auto-tune helmet first seen in “Tales About Thor” #23 from 1947. Also noteworthy is the first filmed appearance of Thor’s dog, Milghornylryl, played by Bonji (The Thin Man) in a heartwarming performance from the up and coming canine. His singing birds are a delight, each one crafted from crepe paper and axle grease in the finest Viking tradition.
Portrayed this time out by Brad Pott (The Omen), Thor’s musical numbers have never looked better. Pott can flat out sing, and Mitt Bomney’s score takes full advantage of the agility of the two-time Bony Award winning former sunscreener for the New Hampshire Ramps with lots of aerial numbers and squat thrusting. Pott can still light ’em up when he wants to, and he and costar Angelina Eliot (Bunny Lake Is Missing) as Edwina make a terrific duo onscreen. Their chemistry and good looks carry the entire second movement; a good thing in this case, as they make beautiful music together, and the rest of the cast is up to snuff as well.
Stern Borgnine as Rodin recalls his Peabody nominated performance in “Dance of Death,” bringing the rage of the British theater to the role, playing a mellower king content to drink his milkshakes and do his crossword puzzles, while Jennifer O’Pez (Rebecca) portrays love interest Gynorf. Her role has the added impact of being both a sympathetic take on the femme fatale and a truly menacing interpretation by O’Pez, making her every move electric.
Tung and director of photography Blyne D’Guy have made a world so convincing you’ll want to swim in its waters and walk through its forests. Just watch out for the man-eating groggegroffs and the banjaworls with their poisonous bite.
Special effects by Shitehouse are truly impressive with breathtaking panoramas and eye-kissing colors, from the flames of Thor’s beard to Rodin’s dung-blasted boots, making the larger than life sequences look extra larger than life.
It’s a fun movie with an intelligent script and well drawn characters that non fans can enjoy, while fans will love the stellar treatment of the character that stays true to the canon.
Literally in every movie theater everywhere.