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It’s become a cliché now to describe something as fitting into a rich tapestry. Even in film franchises, the phrase is overused to describe any crossover. But in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one humongous tapestry is being woven constructed. A whole universe to play with, and scores of memorable characters, both heroes and villains (and those switching between the two), there is a mathematical precision to the plot of each Marvel film, and how each fits into the Marvel meta-plot.

Thor: Ragnarok follows on from Thor: The Dark World (which came out ages ago and isn’t very good so no blame if you can’t remember it). In this film, Hela (Cate Blanchett), who happens to be the God of Death and sister to Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston), attempts to install a tyrannous reign over their home world of Asgard.

In a plot with flare inherited from Guardians of the Galaxy, we follow Thor’s adventure, underscored by a whole load of general merriment and bantering, as he attempts to save the people of Asgard.

Arguably the funniest Marvel film yet, one should expect no less from director Taika Waititi, accomplished comedy director of What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and all round funny man. The humour is recognisable from his quirky style and, for fans of his work, the cameos by certain recurring actors he uses are joyfully comforting, almost feeling like easter eggs.

The villain, Hela, is overly generic (albeit scary at times), yet this does not make too large a detriment. It’s clear the film is not about her. Rather, she serves as a MacGuffin for Thor’s development as a character. And the fact that this is thinly veiled does not detract so much from the story. Side villains like Jeff Goldblum’s comedically eccentric and ignorant gladiator-slave owner prop up the action when Hela isn’t around. One might say that the stakes never felt as high as they should have been, due to the constant undercutting comedy, but this didn’t matter. It was clear the creative types behind the film envisaged it as a comedy rather than a dark existential risk scenario (which is usually the sort of film Marvel tends to fail at).

a whole load of general merriment and bantering

With a few instances of dodgy and inexplicable character decisions taking you out of the film, the intelligent flow of wit and exciting overall characterisation is enough to reel you back in. Indeed, this was a film which at no point I found myself bored or checking my watch and at no point in the two hours did I think about going to the toilet. This is probably the most fun I’ve had in a cinema all year!

If for any reason at all, watch the film for Karl Urban’s cockney accent. Actually, rock monster Korg (played by director Taika Waititi in motion-capture) may be the most disarming voice acting of the past few years. The tapestry (there it is again) of hilarious and eccentric characters are fine additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and serve as welcome company for an inspired space adventure.

Thanks to VUE EXETER for providing this screening!

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