THOR: RAGNAROK (2017, Taika Waititi)
I fear this is about as good as MCU movies are going to get these days. It’s become a genre in and of itself — there will always be mediocre villains, too much CG, and a few too many members of a ragtag group of heroes, stuffed inside a north-of-2-hours sci-fi noise-fest that doesn’t stop for one second to digest the consequences of its violence or contemplate the complexities of its storylines. So if that’s all we can expect, consider it a huge breath of fresh air that this episode is wildly entertaining due to being a full blown comedy. It’s the film James Gunn’s GUARDIANS entries so badly wanted to be.
After a laborious first act dumping painful amounts of exposition, the action centers on Sakaar, a WALL-E-inspired trash planet ruled by Grandmaster Jeff Goldblum (virtually stealing the whole show with a giggling performance of unchecked showmanship), and introduces Hulk and Valkyrie, two characters Thor desperately needs to bounce off of (figuratively and literally). We also get the secret MVP: Korg, played by the New Zealand-born Jewish director Waititi, whose sense of humor carries over from his hilarious WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS and makes this entry a cynical satire of itself, skewering clichés and taking the entire franchise about as seriously as anyone should — which is to say, not at all. It knows just how stupid it is that Oscar-winning thespian Mark Ruffalo has to deliver the line “We’re approaching the devil’s anus!” so it just has a childlike glee in the destruction of everything Thor — his hammer, his eye, and his planet. When your villain is Cate Blanchett in goth-club black eye makeup and Anthony Hopkins is standing around giving ghost-dad speeches, you might as well just mock until the credits are over, then keep it going an extra couple minutes.