Things get flashy and violent in the latest offering from one of Marvel's most popular heroesMARVEL STUDIOS

The first two Thor films had a trademark style of balancing the misguided mock-epic dialogue of Asgard on one side, and vapid mortals looking awestruck on the other. However, with the third instalment, the franchise seems to have cast off its angsty teenage phase of bad poetry and attempted romance, and developed a companionably self-aware sense of humour. Thor growls at Hulk: “I’m not sad, I’m pissed off.” Such is the new Thor.

“Hela is the new malcontent on the block, with even more pastiness and curly horns than Loki”

Thor arrives in Asgard to pull Loki reluctantly off their father’s stolen throne, and the two of them find a dying Odin, who reveals that his death will allow their fearsome sister Hela to escape imprisonment and wreak destruction on Asgard. The plot is shaky to say the least, but a measured ignorance of the plot is made possible by the fact that the film is utterly hilarious.

The opening twenty minutes mock clichés of the genre and of the Thor franchise, even re-enacting Loki’s ‘death’ scene from The Dark World in a work of self-glorifying amateur dramatics that Loki (posing as Odin) has put on, before noticing the real Thor and remarking “Oh shit,” a refreshing phrase to come from the king of Asgard’s mouth. The characters’ voices, both in accent and content, have come down from their CGI ivory towers, have started to drop their cut-glass RP, and swear.

Trailer for Thor: RagnarokYOUTUBE

Chris Hemsworth’s Thor has also become more human as a character. Following his alienating wooden godliness in the first films, the ‘relatable’ presence of the mortals has vanished, allowing Thor to become a colourful, cynical hero without the need to assert his otherness to the audience. He cracks jokes, he flirts badly, and the audience is finally on his side. He has enough sass to keep up with Tom Hiddleston’s superb-as-ever Loki, no longer the villain and now playfully antagonistic, the sulky half of the duo.

Loki and Thor’s sister, ‘Goddess of Death’ Hela, is the new malcontent on the block, with even more pastiness and curly horns than Loki, having nicked his taste for green capes. She is suitably nasty, but does not bring anything new to the role of arch villain, lacking Loki’s emotional complexity, with a paper-thin backstory for motivation. On the other hand, Cate Blanchett has the maturity of Odin’s first-born, and does not fall short of her fraternal co-stars.


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When we get back to Asgard after several smoothly absurd adventures filled with tongue-in-cheek humour, the self-awareness has a blip. There is the textbook showdown between Thor and his latest troublesome sibling, involving fantasy trash talk of the “you pitiful worm” variety. As the villain appears out of nowhere and for no reason, so does the villain’s downfall (though, as usual, her fate is ambiguous). Indeed – spoiler alert – something does not feel right when the epic defeat of a villain comes out of a self-deprecating joke at the beginning of the film.

Thor: Ragnarok is flawed, yes, but it is so entertaining that one almost fails to notice

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