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If a movie was described as one filled with comic antics, tons of female appeal and adorable child-like charms, there’s a good chance that it’s not your typical comic book hero film. But Director Taika Waititi and Chris Hemsworth did it anyway in perhaps Marvel’s funniest and most unpredictable movie ever.

Thor: Ragnarok, the third installment of the Thor franchise, did not disappoint despite being one of the many hero movies that hit box-office success this year. It’s easily the new Guardians of the Galaxy minus the whole Avengers squad and Thor’s hammer.

Marvel fans were surely expecting an action-packed, 130-minute long film from the Norse God and the Hulk’s (Mark Ruffalo) combo. It generously served just that in the comic house’s usually impressive fashion but ultimately, Thor: Ragnarok is a superhero movie disguised as a comedy.

While the end of the world is not exactly a delightful topic to take on (re: The Rapture, Melancholia), the Marvel charmer found its way to do it.

The latest stand-alone movie follows the God of Thunder, Thor, as he tries to free himself from imprisonment on the other side of the universe and from hurting his former ally and fellow Avenger, the Hulk, in a deadly gladiator, Hunger Games-like contest put up by a certain Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) of a messy, high-technology artificial planet of Sakaar.

His quest for survival is all to prevent the all powerful goddess of death and his elder sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) from wreaking havoc in his home and the prophesied fiery end of Asgard dubbed as Ragnarok.

Waititi brought his signature touch of humor in his treatment of the characters, oozing with childish charms (except for, errr, Hemsworth’s ripped physique), even when faced with multiple adversities.

Hemsworth himself, who returns as the lead, said that the franchise is becoming ‘a little too familiar’ and that he has become ‘a bit sick of the Thor’ he had created. “I think that I have an obligation to change it up, you know, and give people something different, something new,” he said in an interview with Reuters.

From the opening scene where a trapped Thor confides with a skeleton down to his encounter with Hulk whom he referred to as a ‘friend from work’, one can’t help but laugh at the slightly dim-witted Norse God and his irreverent humor.

His brother Loki shares the same qualities but slightly more playful, evident in that hilarious opening play depicting his ‘fake’ death with Thor holding him in his arms at the previous Thor: The Dark World, and more mischievous, as he betrays Thor for the nth time. Add Doctor Strange to the bunch (Hello, Marvel Cinematic Universe!) and you’ll have an aching stomach after the giggles.

It also looks like Hollywood has finally realized that women should also be put at the forefront of its stories, perhaps following in the footsteps of the massively successful Wonder Woman. Enough with the ‘sex sells’ mentality and more of ‘female leads matter’. While Thor is, well, about a male, there was an abundance of strong women characters in Hela and Asgardian warrior Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson).

Particularly remarkable are their back stories. Apart from possessing super strength and breaking Thor’s hammer into pieces, Hela was once her father Odin’s right hand of sorts and was instrumental to conquering the nine realms. Though obviously on perilous levels, she was ambitious, driven and feisty – someone we need more of in the big screen.

Valkyrie, on the other hand, is not your typical, lady fighter that’s pretty and boring. If anything, she is more than Thor’s equal and is in many ways his superior as once part of Odin’s elite troops. She was the only survivor among her sister warriors a millennia ago at the hands of Hela and masks her loneliness by putting on a tough and drunkard facade. When Thor asks her for help, she musters the courage to face the goddess of death all over again. This becomes her true show of strength, fighting skills aside.

However predictable a hero movie can be in subjecting the lead to adversities and eventually letting him/her come out victorious in the end (oops, spoiler!), Thor: Ragnarok remains a true charmer. Thor’s funny antics makes for brilliant contrast to his super powers and deity status. The supporting characters also had so many jokes up their sleeves that it’s amusing to see all together, especially the newcomer Grandmaster.

What’s more impressive, however, is that even without his hammer, Thor proves the hero in him and saves the people of Asgard, if not its world.

The American film is already considered the best-reviewed superhero movie of all time, with 99% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as of Thursday, October 26. That’s 5% better than its previous installment and former record-holder, Iron Man.

Thor: Ragnarok is an easy blockbuster smash and crowd pleaser that made use of a simple yet proven effective formula: riveting and captivating CGI work, funny Asgardian jokes and punchlines, active women in the story and unpredictability.

Photo from Film Exodus

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