East Penn Press

Monday, July 16, 2018

Review: ‘Thor’

Thursday, November 16, 2017 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

“Thor: Ragnarok” is a bore.

Yes, there’s plenty of action, lots of quips, and terrific computer generated imagery, but “Thor: Ragnarok” fails in that most essential benchmark of cinema achievement: emotional involvement.

Now, this is from the perspective of a movie-goer (yours truly) who’s not a fan boy, has no interest in attending a Comic-Con convention and doesn’t engage in Cosplay (costume play). Heck, I’m one of those folks who long ago stopped dressing up for Halloween.

So, yes, “Thor: Ragnarok” is mostly for children, teens, and adults in arrested development. That’s OK. It’s just not for me. The emotional high-points for me were Led Zeppelin”s “Immigrant Song” (1970), which opens and closes the movie.

“Thor” is based on the characters created in the comic books by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby.

“Thor: Ragnarok” is a cut-and-past compilation of contemporary fantasy film and science fiction film genres. The plot has something to do with Hela destroying the Asgardian civilization. Apparently, “Ragnarok” is a sort of Armageddon. And, here all along I thought they were saying, “Raga Rock.” Just kiddin.’

Blame the screenwriters: Eric Pearson (theatrical movie screenplay debut; screenwriter, TV’s “Agent Carter”), Craig Kyle (theatrical movie screenplay debut; screenwriter. Marvel video games; Marvel TV series) and Christopher Yost (theatrical movie screenplay debut; screenwriter, Marvel video games, Marvel TV series).

To wit (or lack thereof):

The screenplay goes for the jokey hipness, disdain of characters and mock bromance seen and heard in “Guardians Of The Galaxy” (2014, 2017), which were enjoyable romps, but “Thor” falls short miserably with asides that aren’t all that funny.

“Thor” incorporates elements of “The Hunger Games” (2008, 2009, 2010) in a Roman stadium like face-off between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) with Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) an even more clown-like substitute for Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci).

There’s a sense of “Lord Of The Rings” (2001, 2002, 2003) in the pompous philosophical pontificating of Thor’s dear old dad Odin (Anthony Hopkins).

A sequence of spaceship dogfights, right from the “Star Wars” franchise, is thrown in for good measure toward the movie’s conclusion.

Don’t blame the New Zealand director of “Thor: Ragnarok.” Taika Waititi (director, “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” 2016 “What We Do In The Shadows,” 2014, and the remarkable “Boy,” 2010), who has done his best with the material he was given.

The production design and art direction is off. Some scenes look great. Others (the planet of Sakaar) have the sense of a costume party or sub-par B-movie science fiction films. The credits for the special effects production houses go on and on (I lost count after two dozen or so).

The saving grace of “Thor: Ragnarok” are the performances, notably Chris Hemsworth (“Thor: The Dark World,” 2012; ”Thor,” 2011) as Thor: That Aussie accent, that charmingly handsome face, those piercing eyes, that amazing body-builder’s physique (no CGI or special Batman suits needed).

Delicious morbidity is again the stock in trade of Tom Hiddleston as Thor’s brother Noki. They are Cain and Abel. Cate Blanchett is almost unrecognizable as Hela. Her performance shows through despite heavy makeup, armor and head-dress.

Mark Ruffalo seems a bit lost as Bruce Banner when not the CGI Hulk (And when he is, who can tell?). Tessa Thompson impresses as Valkyrie. Idris Elba has a small role as Heimdall. Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster just seems lost without his piano and song.

At one point, one of the characters exclaims, “This doesn’t make any sense.” I couldn’t agree more.

“Thor: Ragnarök,”PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.) for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material; Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy; Run time: 2 hrs., 10 mins.; Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous:In a scene in a play being presented in “Thor: Ragnarok,” Matt Damon plays Loki, Sam Neill plays Odin and Luke Hemsworth (Chris’s brother) plays Thor. Elsewhere, Stan Lee has a cameo as a barber to the gladiators. Stay to the very end for a scene with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). “Thor: Ragnarok” was filmed in Queensland, Australia, and Atlanta, Ga.

Box Office,Nov. 10: “Thor: Ragnarok” continued at No. 1, $56.6 million, $211.5 million, two weeks, keeping “Daddy’s Home Two” opening at No. 2, with $30 million, and “Murder on the Orient Express” opening at No. 3, with $28.2 million. 4. “A Bad Moms Christmas” dropped two places, $11.5 million, $39.8 million, two weeks. 5. “Jigsaw” dropped two places, $3.4 million, $34.3 million, three weeks. 6. ”Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween” dropped one place, $2 million, $45.9 million, four weeks. 7. “Geostorm” dropped two places, $1.5 million, $31.6 million, four weeks. 8. “Blade Runner 2049” held its place, $1.4 million, $88 million, six weeks. 9. “Happy Death Day” dropped three places, $1.3 million, $54.9 million, five weeks. 10. “Lady Bird” flew up 10 places, $1.2 million, $1.7 million, two weeks.

Unreel,Nov. 17:

“Justice League,”PG-13: Zack Snyder directs Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavil, Amy Adams, and Jeremy Irons in the Action Fantasy movie. Batman and Wonder Woman team up to battle a greater evil.

“Wonder,”PG: Stephen Chbosky directs Julia Roberts, Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson, and Mandy Patinkin in the Drama about August Pullman, a boy with facial differences.

“The Star,”PG: Timothy Reckart directs the voice talents of Steven Yeun, Kristin Chenoweth, Zachary Levi, and Gina Rodriguez in the animation comedy about a donkey and his animal friends during the first Christmas.

One Popcorn Box out of Five Popcorn Boxes