Holden may have shut up shop for good, but the iconic Australian carmaker lives on thanks to the latest Marvel superhero epic starring Chris Hemsworth, Thor: Ragnarok.
Directed by New Zealand’s Taika Waititi, it’s the daftest movie from the comic book studio to date, shot through with the anarchically quirky humour in Waititi’s films like What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Boy.
Filmed on the Gold Coast at Hemsworth’s request and employing plenty of locals, including indigenous people, there are a surprising number of Aussie (and Kiwi) accents and in-jokes.
All of the spaceships featured in the film are named after Holden models, including the Statesman, the Kingswood, the Torana and the Commodore.
The latter is the name of a red, yellow and black craft Thor and his friends use to escape prison planet Sakar (ruled over by alien dictator Grandmaster, played by Jeff Goldblum) and return to Thor’s home Asgard, which is under assault by Hela, goddess of death, played by Cate Blanchett.
“We basically just took all the colours from the Aboriginal flag and rearranged everything around the design of the ship in red, black and yellow, so the heroes of the film are escaping from this world in the Aboriginal flag,” Waititi told triple J. “It’s a crack up.”
As is the genius addition of a classic line from Rob Sitch’s iconic Aussie movie The Castle.
Westworld actress Tessa Thompson plays Valkyrie, a survivor of a previous assault on Asgard, who serves Thor up to the Grandmaster for bounty money.
Requesting a payday of $10 million, bodyguard Topaz, played by Waititi regular Rachel House, sneers, “tell her she’s dreaming”.
Featuring the return of Tom Hiddleston’s mischievous Loki, Mark Ruffalo’s scientist Bruce Banner – stuck in mean green Hulk mode – and a brief appearance by Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange, it’s Waititi who steals the show.
Playing a lovably dim rock-like alien called Korg who befriends Thor while he’s imprisoned, Waititi keeps his Kiwi accent in a role he based on Auckland nightclub bouncers.
Also watch out for Waititi’s compatriot Sam Neill and Hemsworth’s older brother Luke in a drink-spittingly funny cameo.
Blanchett gives Hiddleston a run for his money as the best Marvel villain to date, channelling Meryl Streep channelling Anna Wintour in Devil Wears Prada, with a withering lack of patience for mere mortals.
With Hemsworth’s native accent much more recognisable this time round, and Blanchett’s breaking through too, it may well be that some American audiences will be left scratching their heads.
But it’s all so joyously ridiculous, set to a blazing soundtrack including Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song, that they’ll be swept along for the wild ride.