In this episode we discuss another Cate Blanchett foray into playing a villian in a big blockbuster; as Hela the goddess of death in Thor: Ragnarok (2017). Other topics discussed include the Marvel cinematic universe, who’s the best Chris and Taika Waititi’s singular comedic vision. Hosted by Murtada Elfadl with guest writer and critic Joi Childs, host of The Color Grade podcast.
Follow along, the film is streaming on Disney +.
What is the film about?
From IMDB: Imprisoned on the planet Sakaar, Thor must race against time to return to Asgard and stop Ragnarök, the destruction of his world, at the hands of the powerful and ruthless villain Hela.
When did it come out?
November 3, 2017.
Who does Cate play?
Hela, The Asgardian goddess of death. Hela also happens to be the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first major female villain.
How is Cate introduced?
About 20 minutes into the film, freed from prison after Odin dies. She immediately destroys Thor’s hammer Mjolnir.
Box Office: Domestic = $315,058,289 Int’l = $538,918,837
- General impression on Marvel films. Where does Thor: Ragnarok rank?
- Marvel villains. Have they solved their problem with Hela, Thanos and Killmonger? Or perhaps they never had a villain problem?
- Cate is usually great when going full camp. Does she go far enough here? Could the script have given here more? What does she bring to the film?
- Why does Cate play villains in big blockbusters? In addition to Thor she was the heavy in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), Cinderella (2015).
- Irreverent tongue in cheek tone and quirky characters that obviously comes from Taika Waititi. Is this the funniest superhero movie?
- Who’s our favorite Chris? Candidates are Hemsworth, Pine, Evans and Messina. Never Pratt.
- Is Hemsworth funny? He cerainly keeps trying to be.
- Hela’s look; skin tight jumpsuit with bare shoulders, smoky eye makeup, antlers.
- Cate’s body movements are to die for; the walk, the hand movements.
- Thor and Hulk as comedy buddies – does it work?
Scenes we liked:
- When Hela crushes the hammer.
- Valkyrie; great introduction drunk and falling faking out her power.
What seemed off:
- Cate isolated with Karl Urban for most of the film, away from the main action.
What reviews said of film / Cate:
“Like most of the better Marvel efforts, Thor: Ragnarok feels like the work of a unique sensibility instead of a huddle of brand managers. While the studio’s films demonstrated plenty of comic flair right from the start of its shared-universe experiment, with 2008’s Iron Man, recent efforts have veered too far into bland, jokey listlessness; frivolity has trumped lightheartedness, pandering has replaced irreverence. But in Ragnarok, directed by the Kiwi filmmaker and actor Taika Waititi, the gags are weird enough, and land frequently enough, that it all seems to be coming from someplace — and someone — real.” – Bilge Ebiri, The Village Voice
“There are bright spots and imaginative touches here and there, including a high-functioning alcoholic mercenary named Valkyrie (the excellent Tessa Thompson) who winds up entangled in the inevitable war for Asgard’s survival. But whether Waititi is cross-cutting distractedly between planets, letting Blanchett channel her inner Jean Marsh or trying to give Idris Elba and his orange contact lenses something to do, he never finds a proper groove or holds your attention for more than minutes at a time. Maybe that’s not a bug, but a feature. The director has set himself the unenviable task of making a movie that never stops trying to wow you, all while seeming too cool and insouciant to care if you’re wowed or not.” – Justin Chang, LATimes
“Hela appears, a lithe vision in a black and beetle-green unitard. Her makeup looks like what happens to a smoky eye after you’ve slept in it, and she sports a marvelous set of black antlers, as if she’d raided a glam hunting lodge. She’s surely a very busy Norse goddess, because she disappears for long stretches of the movie. Thor: Ragnarok is boyishly eager to reveal Thor’s goofy likability to us, as if it were something we hadn’t yet cottoned to. Directed by the enormously talented New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi, it’s well intentioned but ultimately numbing, an instance of fun overkill whose ultimate goal seems to be to put us into a special-effects coma. Not even the occasional inspired touch — like Cate Blanchett as the silky villainess Hela — can save it. It’s at least three movies rolled into one, with maybe half a decent one in there. But like Thor himself, it sure is big. And if you value quantity over quality, it’s a lot of movie for the money.” – Stephanie Zacharek, Time