29 October 2017

Waititi's Lightning In A Bottle?

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Thor movies are a bit like taking a massive fart. When done with the right amount of humour there's a good chance that you'll get away with it and everything will be okay. However, and as was the case with Thor: The Dark World, if the thing feels as though it's been forced out for the sake of it then, like a fart, there's also a definite possibility that you'll be left with something 'a little shit'. It also seems that the best films within the MCU are made by directors of note. Shane Black's Iron Man 3 was his typical Christmas-set story of a wise-talking crime fighter that gets wrapped up in a Hollywood conspiracy. Joss Whedon's Avengers was his usual group of weirdos coming together to form a surrogate family with each other as they battle supernatural-esque forces. With Thor: Ragnarok we see the comedy genius of indie director Taika Waititi as he makes what he drunkenly described in an interview as being “about a guy just trying to get home because there's a burglar in his house, and he's stuck with this giant bi-polar guy who gets angry all the time, and a drunk chick, and an annoying brother, and that's it. But with spaceships... and Jeff Goldblum”.

In many ways Waititi is an odd choice to direct a huge action blockbuster due to the smaller and more comedic nature of his previous films. The last Thor movie featured a giant alien-rocket collapsing onto London and causing an inordinate amount of destruction and yet, to my knowledge, the closest Waititi has come to directing action is in his film The Hunt For The Wilderpeople. It was in this film which he had an ageing Sam Neil jump onto a big pig as some fat kid took shots at it from a cliff. Although unlike Thor: The Dark World it's worth noting that The Hunt For The Wilderpeople was also a fucking masterpiece and so fuck it, I guess hiring him couldn't do too much harm. And in fact it seems like he might actually have been the perfect choice for Thor: Ragnarok after all, with this arguably being one of the most fun movies of the year and the funniest film in Marvel's Cinematic Universe. Sure, Guardians Of The Galaxy has its laughs, but Thor: Ragnarok is less of a comedic action movie than it is a comedy with some amazing action to break up the jokes. You remember Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2's opening Groot dance? Well it's basically that but all the way through and to misquote The Hunt For The Wilderpeople's Hec, the whole thing is fucking majestical.

To get the negative out of the way, I suppose I felt like the opening twenty-minutes pretty much just existed to erase the last two movies and everything that was teased at the end of the second. When we last saw Asgard it was under the leadership of a thought-to-be-dead Loki as he took the guise of his now missing father. 'How intriguing', we all thought! Well, all of that literally goes fucking nowhere as though Waititi had seen what was laid out and decided that it'd be more fun to throw that plan into a swamp and have Thor riff and banter with Hulk in a gladiator arena instead. I have no idea what was planned but I do find it difficult to believe that it would have been better than seeing a space-viking attempt to make friends with a giant fucking rage monster as it has a pissy fit in a centurion's helmet. Dr. Strange's cameo was fun but ultimately felt like it was there just to remind us that this is part of the MCU and not just a big budget entry into the Waititi-verse. Although it's worth saying that the film does manage to feel exactly like both. When director Edgar Wright was booted off Ant-Man and a million nerds had their hearts broken, he said that it was because he wanted to make a Marvel movie but Marvel never came around to the idea of making an Edgar Wright movie. Well, miraculously, Thor: Ragnarok does simultaneously feel like the next logical step for Thor whilst also retaining the feel of something like Boy or What We Do In The Shadows. When Loki is revealed to have been ruling as Odin I honestly wasn't sure if it was going to lead to a fight or if he'd simply be forced to endure the Procession of fucking Shame from three bickering vampires.

The only other problem with this is that at least one main character befalls a tragic fate that really doesn't hold as much gravitas as it probably should. Without giving too much away a character has a Padme-kind-of-death in which they seem to simply just lose the will to live before turning into a small firefly orgy. Rue's death in the Hunger Games drags out for so long that you end up screaming, “Just fucking eat her or turn her into a tent but either way you need to jog the fuck on” at the screen. And that little bitch had only been in the movie for about four minutes. This character has been in three fucking films and their death registers the same emotions as the time I accidentally broke my favourite mug. I was sad when it happened but when I was struck with an itchy arse a mere few seconds later I forget the incident instantly. And I'm talking about the character whose death is lingered on. There's at least a couple more prominent characters who are offed with such casualness that I can only assume that the actors playing them must have gone to set having wrongly assumed that New Zealander of the year Waititi was an Aussie and to his face. Although if I'm honest.. if a film features Jeff Goldblum at his most Goldblumiest and more than one other character then I already think the screen is getting a little overcrowded and so I didn't really miss them.

In fact when it came to the cast of the characters I couldn't decide which I liked the most. Sure the villainess doesn't come across too well but this is an MCU movie and when is that not a criticism? Plus they've clearly had what 22 Jump Street referred to as carte blanche and cast one of the best actresses ever in the form of Cate Blanchett to help the situation. Her character is a little underwritten but she's great enough that she still manages to get some sympathy out of the hypocrisies her character has had to endure. She also gets some pretty cool action scenes because although I do think that this film is primarily a comedy.. and a fucking funny one.. the action that punctuates the jokes is still as cool as fuck. I don't want to give too much away but seeing Thor spinning his hammer to the sound of The Immigrant Song as he fights off a bunch of zombies may be the most ice-cool thing I've seen since my dick swelled up and I had to reduce its temperature with a bag of frozen peas. The first Thor was a giant pantomime as directed by a man used to the bombast of Shakespeare. The second was what happens when you take that pantomime and try to cash-in on the popularity of the grittier 'tits and dragon-fest' that is Game Of Thrones. The third by contrast is what happens when the Flash Gordon, Masters Of The Universe-esque campy, colourful, classics of the 1980's get infused with the gamma radiation of today's special effects and a huge fucking budget and I fucking loved it. Thanks for reading motherfuckers and see you next time.