Thor: Ragnarok

I’ve always felt the Thor movies were the weakest of the superhero bunch, so I wasn’t looking forward to this. On the way to the theatre for the screening, my wife said, “You know this is directed by that guy you like.”

She was talking about Kiwi director Taika Waititi, who did two of my favorite movies of the year when they came out — What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Now I was excited. My excitement quickly wanned with the confusing plot from Norse mythology, and action scenes that are hard to follow, and expository speeches that bore me (at a few points, I actually fell asleep).

I suppose it’s a little bit of fun to see Doctor Strange and the Hulk. Jeff Goldblum steals a few scenes as the humorous host of a show that pits warriors against each other, although we’ve seen those mean-spirited but humorous host characters before (in The Fifth Element and Hunger Games). Part of the problem was that I think the studio felt…with the success of Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy…they would just go for goofs and laughs. I think it’s more fun when the superheroes play it straight. The reason the humor worked with those other two movies was because they’re over-the-top characters, and we weren’t expected it to be all that funny. When we already know the superheroes, it’s best not to go that route. I’m content with just a few laughs, and a fun Stan Lee cameo. Not jokes about every little thing going on around them (that doesn’t mean I didn’t laugh at the character Waititi played, made entirely of rocks).

We get two Oscar winners in this — Anthony Hopkins and Cate Blanchett, who plays Hela, the older sister Thor never knew he had. She has returned to enact an ancient Norse prophecy. She’s sporting a form-fitting outfit, reminding us of her character in Cinderella, or someone from Maleficent.

Hela is on Asgard creating problems, while Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) are stranded on Sakaar, and we watch gladiator battles that just made me think of better movies that had scenes like that.

The movie had a few laughs, but I felt many of them fell flat. For example, calling one portal the “Devil’s anus” and Asgard “Ass-guard.” Come on! Did Waititi write this or a couple of frat boys?

The movie was just overstuffed, and I’m so tired of CGI fighting scenes that all seem the same. My wife complains they’re hard to follow, and that in Thor movies, there’s always a showdown on a bridge.

Perhaps if I were a 14-year-old boy, those scenes would all feel epic. Instead, I’m just bored. And I want more than repetitive jokes.

I’m giving it 2 ½ stars out of 5. My wife liked it more, and thinks it deserves at least 3 ½ stars. But I’m guessing at least one of those stars is because Chris Hemsworth took off his shirt at one point.