Special thanks to Marvel, Disney and ABC for sending me on this all expense paid trip to cover THOR RAGNAROK, “The Mayor” on ABC, CARS 3 Blu-Ray release, Disney Junior’s “Vampirina” and littleBits’ STAR WARS Droid Inventor Kits. All opinions are my own.
Confession: Until the THOR: RAGNAROK press trip I had never heard of director Taika Waititi nor did I have any clue how to pronounce his name. After seeing THOR: RAGNAROK, I can honestly say that I know not only who Taika Waititi is but I want to see his other films. Known primarily for his work on independent films, Waititi, a New Zealand native, seems like an out of the blue pick to direct Marvel’s third Thor-centric film and maybe he was initially. After sitting down with him, and the other 24 bloggers who were on the press trip, I feel like Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, and the executive producers of THOR: RAGNAROK could not have made a better choice to breathe life into the third THOR film. With his comedic timing as an actor influencing the way he directs and his keen sense of tone and how to set the mood of a film from start to finish, I have a funny feeling many more of us who had no clue who Mr. Waititi was before will be rushing home to see if his other films are available to stream. If you haven’t read my THOR: RAGNAROK review click here.
When he was asked what the process was like, becoming the director of the next major Marvel motion picture, he described, “It was harrowing and exciting. When they offered me the chance to come I remember my experience was making very independent films, you know, low budget, 25 day shoots and my first reaction really was, ‘I guess Marvel company’s lost their mind or they’re just asking anyone to do anything.'” That candid, down to earth, witty attitude is who Taika Waititi is and you see it on the big screen in all of his films (What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople).
How did Taika Waititi pitch Marvel Studios on his idea of THOR: RAGNAROK?
Taika Waititi: The thing with pitching is that a lot of people think it’s been about pitching stories. I just think it’s about assessing each other out, figuring out if you wanna hang out for two years. So we went and hung out in the Marvel offices and they were really great and straight up with me and yeah, I haven’t had any regrets. When I went in for my pitch I was a massive Led Zeppelin fan. I’ve actually got to return all my mum’s records… I went to the pitch and I made this sizzle reel which is like I basically ripped tiny clips from multiple movies to show a tone that to them is my idea for what the tone of the film would be and it was from Sixteen Candles, to Big Trouble in Little China, and the entire thing was to “Immigrant Song”. Because of that it became the song and we were pretty determined to use it somehow in the film and I mean I couldn’t be happier that it’s in. I mean it’s the perfect song for the movie about Thor.
In the film Waititi plays the character of Korg, a sort of motherly figure in the gladiator prison in Sakaar. We asked him what it was like playing Korg and why he made the decision to not only direct but to also play a small role in the film.
Taika Waititi: With so many eclectic characters and crazy elements in this film you often need something grounding for the audience. I feel really good at playing mum characters so what we’ve done in this film with my character in that [Korg] is the “mother of the house” and looks after them. Korg is very much the mother of the prison and looks after everyone. I think audiences appreciate having someone that’s just down to earth and gentle ‘cause you need that. The film is crazy so it takes back.
Much of Waititi’s performance as Korg was ad-libbed. He told us, “All of Korg’s dialogue was improvised…the thing with Chris [Hemsworth] and I, we get on very well and a lot of the scenes in this film were ad-libbed. I ruined most of the takes by even being in the scene laughing.” And it sounded like a lot of the film was ad-libbed and it was encouraged by Waititi to so do, he told us that he used the script as a blueprint for how to tell the story,
I used the script as a kind of team play, a sort of suggestion for where we can go. We’ll do a version of it and then we’ll play around, shoot another, another or so just making stuff up because you write dialogue six months before you shoot. You think it’s amazing at the time but, you know you don’t even know what will change or it might be a bore so yeah, so it changes on the day. The way I [direct] is I’m filming the closest to the actors and just stand there saying this, say this, say this. Poke them in the shoulder and that’s a real god complex problem. You know you can just like manipulate people [as the director]. I can’t believe I’m making Anthony Hopkins [say] whatever I want.
The look and feel of the film was inspired by Waititi’s childhood obsession of really weird comics and his desire to bring a sense of escape back into films.
I was obsessed with the real weird comics, like really colorful pages and stupid crazy characters. I kind of felt like there was a trend lately that — not only superhero movies but a lot of movies were just depressing and sad and too serious. I remember movies as a kid. You know, I remember watching Karate Kid and running out of the theater saying, “I’m Daniel LaRusso. I’m gonna jump on a playground and try to do the crane kick!” Then I’d fall off and break my arm. I hope people come out of the cinema smiling ‘cause you can go to any cinema in town and no one comes out of there smiling anymore. Also because it’s ten dollars for parking and then you pay 80 bucks for the babysitter. The world is crazy right now. It’s nice to go away to smile, laugh, and you know, get a little bit of an escape. There’s nothing wrong with that
I think Mr. Waititi has done just that with THOR: RAGNAROK and you’ll be able to see what I’m talking about this Friday, November 3rd when THOR: RAGNAROK opens in theaters everywhere!
When can you see THOR RAGNAROK? November 3rd, 2017, EVERYWHERE.
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