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CHANGE THOR THE BETTER; WHAT ARE YOU DOING THIS WEEKEND? THOR: RAGNAROK 12A.

THREE is the magic number for Marvel Comics' dreamy incarnation of the hammer-wielding Norse god of thunder.

Played on screen since 2011 by Chris Hemsworth with flowing golden locks, killer abs and laid-back Antipodean charm, Thor finally gets into an otherworldly groove in this third solo outing, directed to the comic hilt by Taika Waititi.

The New Zealand film-maker and a trio of writers have created a heady brew of rip-roaring action adventure, bone-dry humour and dazzling spectacle that positions this gung-ho chapter closer to Guardians of the Galaxy than its brawny predecessors.

Three members of the Avengers also appear to whet appetites for next summer's superhero smackdown, Infinity War.

The heavenly convergence of direction, writing and performance would align perfectly if Cate Blanchett was allowed to fully inhabit snarling villainess Hera, who sets in motion the Ragnarok - a prophetic downfall of the kingdom of Asgard.

Instead, her merciless and supposedly unstoppable goddess of death is clueless and impotent for extended periods.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) sits undeservedly on Asgard's throne, fashioning the kingdom in his narcissistic image, oblivious to storm clouds billowing on the horizon.

Loki's father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) has been ushered into early retirement, which inadvertently releases Hela (Blanchett) from her prison.

An initial showdown between Thor and Hela culminates in victory to the vengeance-seeking goddess. The fallen champion is cast out to Planet Sakaar, where he is captured by a mysterious merchant.

She sells him to the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), a hedonistic, gambling-mad Elder of the Universe, who presides over the Contest of Champions. "People come from far and wide to unwillingly participate," deadpans the tyrant.

Consequently, the freshly-shorn god of thunder is pitted against a smashing ally (Mark Ruffalo) in gladiatorial battle.

From its droll opening scene choreographed to the high-pitched howl of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song, Waititi's picture is a blast. Hemsworth pokes merciless fun at himself, including one saucy interlude of near-theknuckle barbs.

Thor: Ragnarok rocks, and rolls with the punches.

DAMON SMITH

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 27, 2017
Words:329
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