Year Released: 2017
Directed by: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Anthony Hopkins
(Pg-13, 130 min.)
Genre: Action and Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction and Fantasy
“I don’t hang with the Avengers anymore. It all got too corporate.” Thor
Goodbye, Marvel. It’s not you; it’s me. I can’t take it anymore. No more dumbed down mythology, tissue thin characters, or convoluted plots that serve mainly to to set up action set pieces.
All the production values, big name stars, and positive Rotten Tomatoes scores can’t save you from my wrath. Even dreamboat Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who seems a pretty good guy in real life, too, unlike some of his fellow Avengers, cannot redeem this comic book franchise.
Sure, it was fun to begin with:
We’ve been reinventing and recycling our superheroes for decades now, and it’s about time for a new kid on the block. Iron Man, a brilliantly cast Robert Downy is missing Superman’s extra terrestrial powers, milk drinking Spiderman’s nerdy innocence, and Batman’s earnest angst. He’s more like America’s version of 007, insouciant, bold, and brash. Like James Bond he has a way with the ladies, but our Tony Stark doesn’t have to answer to any prim M, seeing he is no British bureaucrat but the head of his very own capitalistic venture, one dedicated to inventing the most lethally efficient weapons in the world.
This action film reminds us of our better angels. Captain America, a 98-pound weakling transformed into a super soldier hunk, wows us more with his character than his exploits, a red, white and blue package of courage, patriotism, and innocence as invincible as his Vibranium shield.
And it is Thor’s exuberance, this lost art of Norse braggadocio so celebrated in epics like Beowulf that seems almost a tonic to many of us tired of pseudo intellectual fodder that is taken for gravitas in our modern world. Thor is a bigger than life hero, unburdened by politically correct shibboleths such as saving the environment, eking out revenge against a ruthlessly corrupt CIA, or unmasking the evils of corporate greed. He has lots of Tony Stark’s arrogance, some of his charm, only a small portion of his genius, but 100 percent of his willful determination.
The mega-opening of Marvel’s The Avengers blasts down on us like an early heat wave, ushering in summer hyper thrills even if the calendar disagrees. And what a package of men in tights, spangles, “their mother’s drapes” and retro Black Sabbath t-shirts they are, even if more than half of their energies and egos are directed at their own dysfunctional family of superheroes instead of the emerald robed Loki intent on taking over the world.
But now Tony Stark is morphing into a metrosexual, Captain America, the actor not the character, has taken to scolding us about our politics, Thor seems packaged for pre adolescents hooked on video games, and The Avengers have left the grownups behind in their latest razzle-dazzle feature with a burgeoning cast of characters that almost makes everyone’s role a cameo.
Somehow I sensed this denouement coming. Even with great reviews, I found myself making excuses to stay away from the theatrical opening of Thor: Ragnarok. The first clue came with the previews screened before the film. As usual, they were all films of the same genre, and they all featured ridiculously short clips of action with heavy doses of computer-generated images.
I felt like I was in a video arcade and not a movie theater. And Thor, despite its talented cast, wasn’t much different. “The cast has been referring to the film as an interdimensional buddy road trip movie,” according to Corey Chichizola of Cinema Blend. Thor (Chris Hemsworth), his wily “brother” Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), to name a few of the gang, trek through the alien planet Sakaar, have a brief meet up with Dr. Strange (Benjamin Cumberbatch) in Manhattan, visit Norway, and of course, Asgard. But unlike Bond's globe trotting sophistication, these treks seem more distractions from the essential emptiness of the film.
Thor's Chris Hemsworth seems to be enjoying himself, with a fresh haircut to go along with his new humiliations. And yes, he does have some great comedic talent that seems almost mismatched to his godlike looks. But the action heavy script doesn't give him much time to show that talent; nor does it allow for much character development. Of course, that is not Hemworth's fault.
Loki, as he struggles to redeem himself, seems neutered somehow. He has neither the malignant force nor the Shakespearean presence he brought to his earlier films.
And of all the Avengers characters to match up with Thor, Hulk is perhaps the least palatable choice, especially since he seems frozen in full Hulk mode for most of the film. There is only so much entertainment value in watching the green giant smash everyone about like rag dolls.
Different Drummer agrees that the marvel universe of films
…are basically punchy, predictable sitcoms in comic-book drag. Or that, at their best, these movies offer an enjoyable antidote to the crushingly pretentious psychodrama of Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent and other cape-carrying members of the Martha Cinematic Universe. – Justin Chang
Kate Blanchett, appearing as another rogue Thor sibling up to no good, is as beautiful and as she is lethal, and her full head of antlers makes her as fierce as Medusa, just not as repulsive. Yet, she doesn’t seem to be having that much fun in her villainy, which drains the spark from some of her mayhem.
Go ahead and see Thor. You’ll probably enjoy it. It’s just that Marvel has taken one too many trips to the well, and I’m tired of imbibing their stale, pre packaged brew.
The Incredible Hulk is perhaps the most intense Marvel character of all time. In full-on Hulk mode, he’s more than a handful. Big. Green. Angry. Powerful. All the things prospective employers love seeing on a resume. No? Well, maybe not the green part.
The Hulk Cocktail is filled with all things green, Granny Smith apples, Green Apple Syrup, and Alizé Apple Liqueur. And because we needed something mega strong we used a dram of TOPO Moonshine Whiskey. We’ll drink to that! – D. Durand Worthey
The Hulk Cocktail
1 1/2 ounces TOPO Moonshine Whiskey
1/2 ounce Torani Green Apple Syrup
3 ounces Alizé Apple Liqueur
Green Apple Slices
This cocktail is built directly in the glass it is served in.
First, add the TOPO Moonshine Whiskey, then fill the glass with crushed ice, drizzle the Torani Green Apple syrup over the ice.
Top with Alizé Apple Liqueur, finish with a crisp green Granny Smith apple garnish.