Thor: Love and Thunder. M, 119 minutes. Four stars
This latest in the ongoing Marvel juggernaut - the 29th feature in the comic-book-to-film franchise and the fourth stand-alone feature with Chris Hemsworth's space Viking as lead character - is like an '80s roller-rink disco night.
It is fun and pain in good measure, hopped up on more sugar than is good for you, racing at break-neck speed to a blistering hair metal soundtrack and peppered with prizes for the kids paying attention.
Hemsworth brings all of his social capital to the production and the audience at my opening night session was there for it, giggling at literally everything he said. But, to be fair, the bloke is dead charming.
He also brings as producer an enormous Hollywood production to our country, and with it hundreds of jobs. Cast and crew are peopled with Aussie names with the likes of Russell Crowe, Sam Neill and a handful of other Hemsworths in small but memorable roles.
For those new to the whole thing, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the God of Thunder from a planet called Asgard which has been destroyed. The remnants of its peoples settled on Earth in the colony of New Asgard.
Thor is the prince and rightful king of these people, but a few Marvel films ago he recognised that politics was not for him and he passed the mantle onto his mate Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson).
But a new and powerful force is ripping through the universe, destroying gods, and as the Asgardians are a race of gods, Valkyrie has a job on her hands.
This force is Gorr the God Destroyer (Christian Bale), the most relatable bad guy in recent cinema history. For the most part the gods in this film are awful self-centred prats, at best.
Coming to help Valkyrie when Gorn kidnaps the child population of New Asgard is Thor, back from years travelling the universe, and an unexpected new Thor, and as she appears in the film trailer, it's no spoiler to say this is Natalie Portman's Dr Jane Foster.
I'll leave the how and why Portman's character is suddenly a god herself for you to discover. There's plenty to chat about here that doesn't spoil some of the film's most fun narratives and gags.
These narratives and gags are from writer-director Taika Waititi, the endlessly talented Kiwi behind comedies like What We Do In The Shadows and who, as writer-director of Thor: Ragnarok, gelled with Hemsworth's natural charm and gift for self-deprecating comedy. Together they are an unstoppable force.
Waititi's rock-man character Korg has been Thor's sidekick through a handful of these films now, so audiences will be familiar with his thick Kiwi accent delivering deliciously goofy lines.
The narrative is a melange of ideas from previous films and comics. It's not the strongest of the Marvel films but is setting up so many new characters and new ideas it will be the springboard for much to come.
Hemsworth is a dream - he really understands his own strengths as a performer and as a thing to be objectified.
Russell Crowe plays Zeus like a temper-tantrum throwing spoiled rock star, with the nasal delivery of Con the Fruiterer. It is a delightful performance from an actor who doesn't often let go of a controlled self-image.
The film's many cameo roles are fun, particularly Matt Damon and the Hemsworth brother Luke (of Westworld fame) as a pair of hammy Asgardian thespians.
The crew, both physical production and the CGI and effects folk, are many, allowing a long set of end credits for Marvel to hide their usual two post-credit scenes.
For the production, Waititi's aesthetic is 1970s electric-lime spray-panted panel van driven by a moustachioed lothario, blasting Guns N' Roses.
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