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'Thor: Ragnarok' Pokes Fun At Itself While Being The Best Thor Film Yet

Nov 2, 2017
Originally published on November 2, 2017 6:53 pm
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

You know what today is? It's Thorsday (ph). Marvel's hammer-throwing Norse god is back in movie theaters. NPR critic Bob Mondello says whole worlds are at stake in "Thor: Ragnarok."

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Asgard is what's at stake, Thor's home planet or realm or whatever. And he's just the guy to fix things soon as he's fired up his spaceship.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THOR: RAGNAROK")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As character) Welcome. Voice activation required.

CHRIS HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) Thor.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As character) Access denied.

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) God of thunder.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As character) Denied.

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) Prince of Asgard.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As character) Denied.

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) Strongest Avenger.

MARK RUFFALO: (As Bruce Banner) Let me try - Banner.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As character) Welcome, strongest Avenger.

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) What?

MONDELLO: Yep, Hulk's along for the ride. And whenever he's mean and green, so is their semi-sibling rivalry.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THOR: RAGNAROK")

RUFFALO: (As Bruce Banner) Hulk like fire. Thor like water.

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) Kind of both like fire.

RUFFALO: (As Bruce Banner) But Hulk like raging fire. Thor like smoldering fire.

MONDELLO: Thor's actual sibling, Loki tends to lose debates like this, as when they're deciding how to take out some bad guys.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THOR: RAGNAROK")

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) Hey, let's do get help.

TOM HIDDLESTON: (As Loki) What?

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) Get help.

HIDDLESTON: (As Loki) No.

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) Come on. You love it.

HIDDLESTON: (As Loki) I hate it.

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) It's great. It works every time.

HIDDLESTON: (As Loki) It's humiliating.

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) Do you have a better plan?

HIDDLESTON: (As Loki) No.

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) We're doing it.

HIDDLESTON: (As Loki) We are not doing get help.

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) Get help, please. My brother's dying. Get help. Help.

MONDELLO: Thor throws him at the bad guys.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THOR: RAGNAROK")

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) A classic.

HIDDLESTON: (As Loki) I still hate it. It's humiliating.

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) Not for me, it's not.

MONDELLO: You'll note the tone is pretty silly, a fact that is apparently controversial in comic book circles but is a definite relief for the rest of us, especially since "Ragnarok" in the title means apocalypse. Chalk the lightness up to a sharp indie director, Taika Waititi from New Zealand, who evidently decided as long as Thor's plot was going to be preposterous, the characters might as well be in on the joke. Credit him also with giving women something central to do, particularly a sibling Thor and Loki didn't know they had, Hela.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THOR: RAGNAROK")

CATE BLANCHETT: (As Hela) Kneel.

HIDDLESTON: (As Loki) I beg your pardon.

BLANCHETT: (As Hela) Kneel before your queen.

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) I don't think so.

MONDELLO: Don't you love family reunions? Cate Blanchett's Hela is hella mean, hella snarky and hella striking with her hair slicked back into antlers. She's also as good as her bros at striking poses in front of green screens, then letting the computer folks blast pixels to smithereens. It says something that in Chris Hemsworth's one shirtless scene as Thor, his torso is the film's most persuasive special effect. But hey, the Marvel formula is tried and true. And though this may qualify as faint praise, "Ragnarok" is indisputably the best of the "Thor" movies. I'm Bob Mondello. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.