Okay, so it's less about the gods of classical Norse Mythology than the Marvel Comics pantheon, but only a real killjoy would fail to get a kick out of this third installment of the Thor series, Thor: Ragnarok.
As Norse geeks know, Ragnarok is like Armageddon — the long-prophesied doom of Asgard, where the Norse gods live.
Yes, the destruction of the world is serious stuff, but what's most engaging about this episode is the way Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston continue to have way too much fun developing the prickly relationship between heroic Thor, God of Thunder, and sly, acerbic half-brother Loki, the Trickster God.
(Established with such brio in the last installment, Thor: The Dark World, my Guilty Pleasure of 2013.)
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Who knew Thor could be funny?
It's all directed with a surprisingly droll, light touch by New Zealander Taika Waititi, who give his adroit cast plenty of room to maneuever.
(In the Thor universe, gods and mortals rocket around the galaxies at will.)
That's Cate Blanchett in a black Vampyra wig as Hela, Goddess of Death (a previously undocumented lost daughter of Odin), whose evil schemes to conquer Asgard and unleash Ragnarok set everything off.
New to the series, Tessa Thompson struts around with brio as the last survivor of the Valkyrie sisterhood, nursing a grudge against Hela.
The ever-wonderful Idris Elba has more to do this time as Heimdall, keeper of the portal of Asgard, who becomes a leader of the resistance after Hela takes over.
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(He's also extra poignant in his CGI Hulk suit, when he's not bashing people about.) It's also pretty funny when spectators take to the streets in green masks to celebrate Hulk Day, in honor of their favorite combatant.
Benedict Cumberbatch pops up for one pretty cool scene as Dr. Strange. (I told you, these characters jet all over the place.)
And keep your eyes peeled for a cameo by Matt Damon playing an actor playing the part of Loki in a recreation of the last scene of the last Thor movie onstage in Asgard.
Of course, there's also another yawner of an aerial dogfight above Asgard. (Don't even ask.)
(And in one disturbing scene, a character goes on a two-fisted rampage, firing two automatic assault rifles into a crowd of Hela's army. Sure, his targets are inhuman demons with green glowing eyes, but it still looks like a serial killer-empowering moment.)
Thor also loses his mighty magic hammer in this one. (Although he mostly retains a tactical advantage, since he is, you know, a god.) More traumatizing to fangirls is the scene when he's shorn of his long blond locks. Loki too gets a new do, less limp and Snape-like, with a little bounce around the edges.
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