Movie News & Reviews

‘Ragnarok’ a delicious blend of meaty action, sublime silliness

Chris Hemsworth, left, and the Hulk (voiced by Mark Ruffalo) star in “Thor: Ragnarok.”
Chris Hemsworth, left, and the Hulk (voiced by Mark Ruffalo) star in “Thor: Ragnarok.” Marvel Studios

When Cate Blanchett, as Hela, the Goddess of Death, strides through the treasure storehouse of her father in “Thor: Ragnarok,” she casts her eye about. One by one, the antlered villainess assesses the artifacts with a series of blunt dismissals: “Fake!” “Weak!” “Smaller than I thought it would be!”

Such Twitter-worthy put-downs are not the only wisecracks that may remind viewers of a certain occupant of the White House. Later, in this cheeky live-action comic book, we meet the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who, as fans of the “Avengers” franchise will recall, has been missing in action since the end of “Age of Ultron.” “Whatcha been up to, big guy?” he is asked, to which the taciturn green giant replies: “Winning.”

In his case, it’s not hyperbole.

Don’t worry, the latest movie from Marvel Entertainment isn’t exactly political, although it does involve palace intrigue. Hela, the evil sister of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), wants to take over the celestial realm of Asgard, stepping into the power vacuum created by the absence of their father (Anthony Hopkins), who, as the movie opens, appears to have been exiled to a senior-living facility on Earth.

Thor means to put a stop to Hela’s ambitions, while Thor’s adopted brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), must decide whose side he’s going to fight on, other than his own, as is his opportunistic habit.

That’s the setup, in a nutshell: Thor must put together a team of rivals to take out Hela, who has reanimated Asgard’s dead warriors, long laid to rest. His efforts are hampered by the fact that he has been imprisoned on the planet Sakaar, where he is forced to participate in the gladiatorial Contest of Champions by that world’s ruler, the Grandmaster (a deliciously effete yet cruel Jeff Goldblum). There, he meets a fellow refugee from Asagard, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Korg, a CGI character made out of rocks who is voiced by the film’s director, Taika Waititi.

Waititi brings the right balance of meaty action and sauciness to “Ragnarok,” which, although big, avoids the bloated ponderousness that has recently plagued movies from Marvel’s rival, DC Comics. “Everything always seems to work out,” Thor reminds us.

Much of the humor is sublimely silly, as when Thor tries to explain how his magical hammer enables him to fly. (It ends up sounding like he has a sexual relationship with it.) At another point, Thor learns that the only way back to Asgard from Sakaar is through an interdimensional portal called the Devil’s Anus.

It may sound as if the movie is only for 13-year-old boys, or the Marvel faithful, but it isn’t. In these times of heightened stress and anxiety, “Ragnarok” could not come at a more opportune time. It’s a movie that, to put it in terms that the film’s screenwriters might appreciate, is Thor-ly needed.

Movie review

‘Thor: Ragnarok’

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material. 2:10. Fayette, Frankfort, Georgetown, Hamburg, Nicholasville, Richmond, Winchester.

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