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Every Thor has his Daeg

Posted by Deepak on November 8, 2017

** Warning – mild spoilers **

Thor – The Norse God of Thunder is an iconic presence in the pantheon of Old Gods. Thunder (and lightning) are elemental forces capable of Invoking awe in anyone; plus a day of the week is named after him – Thursday (after Thors-daeg in old Norse). The Marvel comic version of Thor combined elements of mythology with science fiction and made him a superhero capable of going toe-to-toe with the Hulk and heck, even Thanos once he got some Odinforce going. Marvel Thor was a dour presence – serious, stoic and valiant and the MCU version followed suit with 2 movies that were a bit boring in spite of casting such a charismatic, winning actor in Hemsworth.

Strangely enough, Thor as a character seemed to come really alive in the Avengers flicks with Hemsworth showing his chops and ability to play well off everyone in the cast – Cap (Chris Evans) , Stark (Downey Jr) , Loki (Hiddleston) , and especially Hulk/Banner.

Luckily enough, Marvel course corrected and decided to give their lead actor the chance to play off against a whole cast of talented actors this time around, with a buddy cop movie vibe, and a quirky choice of director in Taika Waititi (Eagle and Shark, Hunt for the Wilder people) who also plays the hilarious Rock-y mercenary Korg, and these 2 setup what is probably the second best movie in Phase 3 so far (Civil War is still trumps for me, but only slightly).

The last time we saw Thor (apart from a post credits scene in Dr Strange) was in Avengers:Age of Ultron after which he presumably headed back to an Asgard ruled by Loki who had (spoiler alert for Dark World) faked his death and banished Odin to Midgard and took over the throne in Odin’s guise. Not wanting to waste any time, Waititi starts the movie off “in medias res” with Thor a captive of the Fire giant Surtur in Muspelheim. This, of course turns out to be a ploy of Thor to try and thwart Surtur’s destiny of causing Ragnarok (the end of days including the destruction of Asgard and the death of the Asgardians). However, on getting back to Asgard and seeing through Loki’s glamour immediately (watch out for 3 delightful cameos here) he heads to Midgard (aka Earth) with some helpful directions from a certain sorcerer, and finds Odin, only to learn that Odin had a daughter, his first born, Hela aka The goddess of death. Imprisoned by Odin who wasn’t able to control her murderous ambition, Hela (a scenery-chewing Cate Blanchett in Goth mode) breaks free due to Odin’s absence from Asgard weakening the spell holding her captive and lays claim to Asgard Invoking her right as the firstborn. When her brothers don’t toe the line they find themselves literally thrown to the farthest corner of the universe, a planet called Sakaar ruled by the immortal Grandmaster (Goldblum) who pits Thor against his champion (a friend from work) in a gladiatorial arena. The rest of the film details how he escapes and goes back to save Asgard from Hela.

While the plot already seems super complicated, Waititi keeps things light and airy, interspersing each story beat with oodles of charm and wit, keeping things ticking along.

Goldblum is in fine form as the charmingly evil Grandmaster (brother of the Collector played by Benicio Del Toro who has appeared in a couple of post credit scenes from earlier movies). This is no bumbling Ian Malcolm or David Levinson – his Grandmaster is vain, smarmy, and like any dictator worth his salt, ruthless in putting down any opposition to his rule.

Now it can’t be a buddy cop movie without a partner to play off against and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is the perfect foil for Thor. The story arc which brought Loki full circle from playful sibling rivalry in the first Thor to full-on antagonist in the Avengers, to grudging partner in Dark World and back to a sibling dynamic here makes you feel invested in these messed-up stepbrothers and their long history.

Mark Ruffalo has a short role and like always, he aces the tired and world-weary Bruce Banner who knows that he is just a moment of weakness away from losing himself to the Hulking green rage monster within.

Karl Urban as Skurge has a tiny role but he makes the most of it with a nice redemptive arc of his own.

But it’s Tessa Thompson who plays Valkyrie who steals the movie every scene she’s in. Finally, there’s a female character in a Thor movie (apart from Sif, but then she’s hardly there in the previous movies) who can stand up to Thor and even kick his ass a bit too. Major improvement over Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who was written badly and has thankfully now been written out of the movie. Thompson is equal parts goofy and kickass and is a great addition to the Thor mythos. Plus she’s easy on the eyes too 😍

The cinematography and effects are great as always, and the soundtrack by Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo fame is a great Mashup of 70’s rock and 80’s synthpop. Right from the trailer release, the highlight was Led Zep’s Immigrant Song, which has never been used so well in a movie. With it’s Viking theme (Valhalla, I am coming, Hammer of the Gods) it’s as if the song was written for a Thor movie.

The only complaint I could really have of the movie would be that the story is quite predictable and most of the jokes too were predictable (a character makes as if they’re about to do something epic, only for it to fizzle out and cue laughter) but these are small nits that I’m picking. This is a very funny, and more importantly a fun movie, and it’s as if Marvel has finally nailed Thor as a character. Thor 3.0 is smart, light on his feet, not as full of himself as before and yet packs a mean punch, much like his Hammer, Mjolnir. And, in the words of Simon & Garfunkel, you’d “rather be a hammer than a nail” 😉

Callouts (Slight spoilers)

  • The longest setup for a joke in a movie probably – “I’m Korg, men. I’m made of rocks, but don’t worry, I won’t hurt you, unless you’re made of scissors, heh heh”. This comes full circle in a subtle call out at the end.
  • “I’m not doing ‘Get Help’!”
  • “Now you know how it feels” – Loki to Thor, when he learns how much Odin had kept secret from them. Both actors sell this heavy scene in between the lightness.
  • Thor going full on Raiden from Mortal Kombat.
  • Jeff Goldblum – such an evil character who makes you smile every frame he’s in
  • Dr Strange disappears in one corner of the frame only to appear again in the opposite side, making for a disorienting experience, such a meta Callout to the mind-bending nature of the character.
  • Did I already talk about Immigrant Song. Damn, what a rush it is to see people fight to this song!

One Response to “Every Thor has his Daeg”

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