THOR: RAGNAROK - The word in the movie title that rhymes with “What a crock!” alludes to a plan by Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) evil older sister (Cate Blanchett) to conquer and destroy their home planet of Asgard. That’s the general plot which finds the Norse god of thunder joining up with his untrustworthy brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), a female bounty hunter (Tessa Thompson) whose main talent is drinking heavily and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) who’s obviously just along for the ride. The screenplay by Eric Pearson and Christopher Yost takes a sharp left turn from THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013) by establishing a decidedly more comic tone from the opening scene forward. While there are some genuinely funny bits of dialogue, one can’t help but feel that material is being lifted from GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014) in an attempt to breathe life into a flagging Marvel franchise. It’s why some of the humor comes off as contrived and forced. But the absurdity of the meandering plot does call for a slightly whimsical touch and Hemsworth (STAR TREK) shows more than adequate timing even when the comedy drifts into the morass of self-referential guffawing. The production and set design is opulent and near spectacular in contrast to Blanchett’s (THE AVIATOR) headgear which looks more suitable for the trophy wall of a deer hunter’s “mancave”. The intersecting storylines on Asgard and the planet Sakaar lack cohesion with even the battle scenes weighed down by a sort of consistent tedium characteristic in a bloated, overlong film. Perhaps the most fitting moment of climax occurs when the characters go through a type of wormhole referred to as “The Devil’s Anus” which illustrates how hard the narrative is trying for laughs. The problem is that it’s trying too hard to be witty when such a tone can only be achieved when it comes off as effortless. CRITIC’S GRADE: C

CLOSING CREDITS: There are actually two mid and post-credit sequences characteristic of Marvel films at the conclusion of this particular entry. The first one finds Thor and Loki trying to figure out where to go in the aftermath of Asgard’s destruction. Setting out for Earth (Where it didn’t go so well the last time they were there.), their vessel encounters a bigger, darker and more ominous ship. It would appear to belong to Thanos, who’s the villain to be faced by the Avengers in 2018’s INFINITY WAR. Meanwhile, the second post-credit scene opens with the pompous Grandmaster of Saakar (Jeff Goldblum) springing out of a blue chamber where he’d been hiding out. When he’s greeted by a band of hostile rebels, he declares his important role in the revolution “because you can’t have a revolution without someone to revolt against. It’s a tie”. The scene then cuts to black leaving the Grandmaster’s fate to the imagination of the viewer.