The third installment of the god of Thunder, ‘Thor: Ragnarok‘ is a markedly different film from its predecessors, emphatically expanding what we thought were only nine realms ruled by Asgard, to perspectives that are not only mind-blowing, but disruptive as well.
Ten minutes into this film and my appetite was firmly whet for the next Marvel-ous release, ‘Black Panther‘ (due February 2018). At the start of Thor (2011), you’d forgive my complacency to think that Odin, the ‘all-father’ had always been pure and just, and that Asgard controlled all of the known Universe amalgamated in the nine realms, including Earth (Midgard).
Doctor Strange (2016) seemed to be a precursor to this highly disruptive spectacle meant not to introduce, but to expand the limits of our minds to the depth and complexity of what Marvel has so meticulously carved out with its Cinematic Universe since the onset – and it seems like the gears have shifted and revved up, and there’s no turning back. Nothing seems to be safe anymore, not even seat of the ‘eternal’ gods in Asgard.
Ragnarok‘s opening scene is both comical (with respect to future features) and dark (an ode to the past two installments perhaps), as we see Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) imprisoned and shackled in a circular hanging dungeon, in deep philosophical conversation with… a skeleton. He talks of his predicaments which include a futile search for the Infinity Stones, and his plans of freeing himself.
In less than ten minutes, he’s free and battling the fire demon Surtur and his minions, which includes a fire breathing dragon, much like a ‘Game of Thrones’ creature, thereafter planning a swift escape by calling on Heimdall (played by Idris Elba) who seems to be missing in action, to beam him back immediately to Asgard. The first sign that all is not well in the eternal realm. Thor is back home with the source of Surtur’s power as a totem and the realization that his father is not on Asgard but had been put under a spell, and in a retirement home, on Earth.
The sons of Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins) receive nothing less than a ‘strange’ welcome back on Midgard by another MCU character who leads them to their ailing father, who then reveals that the penultimate bane of their existence is due shortly to deliver Ragnarok, the end of Asgard, and its up to them to stop it. Then saunters in Hela, the goddess of Death (played by Cate Blanchett), whose performance was truly Award worthy – she makes bad look so good – and she’s bent on making Asgard great again!
Journeying back to Asgard with the uninvited guest, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor get knocked off course before they can get back to the Bifrost Bridge, and crash land on the garbage planet Sakaar, an almost lawless realm governed by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) and ravaged by bounty hunters and vagabonds. This is a dystopian world marked by high fashion, hi-tech and ruthlessly bloodthirsty citizens who delight in gladiatorial fights at a central arena.
Thor soon discovers that he has become a slave and must earn back his freedom by defeating the undisputed champion… the Incredible Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Rufallo). He employs the sympathies of a Valkyrie gone rogue (played by Tessa Thompson), and altogether they form ‘the revengers’, a group of superheroes whose mission is to protect Asgard from the goddess of death, Hela and prevent the end of the nine realms as we know it – Ragnarok.
There’s a stormful of wit and humour from this no longer hammer-wielding and freshly shaven god, and it’s honestly like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The more things get familiar, the more worlds-apart they are, as evidenced by the world created by Taika Waititi. and Thor: Ragnarok is not short of breathtaking action sequences, a relate-able yet frighteningly badass goddess of death and a more substantial showing of Idris Elba’s abilities as Heimdall, the all-seeing key to the eternal, scratch that, mortal realm. If Asgard can fall, then who is safe, really?
‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is screening in Kenya from November 2nd 2017