Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review: Thor (2011)

Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.


I’ve talked about the upcoming Avengers movie before but not for a while. Since the last time I discussed it a lot has happened (Including director Joss Whedon announcing that Black Widow will be the only female Avenger on the team, which sucks) most obviously that Thor was released in the theaters.  The newest part of this Marvel Movie Universe project leading up to The Avengers next year this film basically picks up where Iron Man 2 (Which I assume we’ve mostly all seen by now) left off; focusing on the owner of the mysterious hammer in the huge crater in New Mexico.

Focusing on this movie alone Thor is a hard sell to the average movie going public. This is not a typical comic book based superhero film where some dude gets powers and begins to fight crime (Well, that is how the comic started but most of us don’t really remember that).  This is, and always has been, about turning the myth of the Norse god of thunder into a science fiction epic.  Then again we live in a world where Abraham Lincoln has been fictionalized as a vampire hunter so maybe this version of Thor isn’t completely out of place in today’s society.   This film was directed Kenneth Branagh one of the most well known names in the world of Shakespeare (He’s directed several film adaptations of his work) and despite not really being known for his big budget action films he sort of makes sense as the person at helm of a movie like this. But the question is this: is Thor a good film or even a decent follow-up to The Incredible Hulk and the Iron Man franchise?

The answers lie after the jump, verily.

[WARNING: There are a few relatively minor spoilers in this review, but spoilers nonetheless.]


Odin: Well done, my son.  You have proven to be a powerful and wise warrior.
Thor: AND YOU ARE AN OLD MAN AND A FOOL!!!!!

In case you didn’t know (And shame on you) the Mighty Thor is a comic book character created by Marvel Comics as part of their Silver Age renaissance (See: Spider-Man, Fantastic Four).  He is awesome.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the heir to the throne of Asgard, home to the otherworldly beings the Asgardians who apparently inspired the Norse legends of old.  Thor is a powerful warrior but is vain and headstrong.  On the day of his coronation, where he was to succeed his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Asgard is infiltrated by a group of Frost Giants.   Furious Thor leads a group to pay them in kind but the situation quickly gets out of hand and he falls from grace.  Thor must now prove himself worthy of his powers and his place in his own family.  Meanwhile his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) undergoes his own dark journey when he learns a disturbing truth about his origins.

This film is very visually appealing.  Asgard and pretty much all of the scenes in the fantasy portions of the movie looked like they were pulled directly off of Jack Kirby’s classic artwork (Jack Kirby, for those of you not in the know, was the original artist working on Thor and also the most influential and celebrated comic book artist in history).  And ladies and gentlemen it was gorgeous.  It was bright and had a sense of wonder. Despite some scenery and costume designs reminding me of the awful 1987 Masters of the Universe film everything worked really well. The atmosphere likewise never felt overly cheesy or anything like that.  In fact the best parts of this movie took place here.

"For Asgard!  For Odin!!"
The characters of the main Asgardians, Thor, Odin, Loki, and Heimdall respectively were all extremely well done.  Most of this has to do with the casting choices.  Hemsworth and Hiddleston are perfect as Thor and Loki and now I doubt I’d ever be comfortable seeing anyone else in these roles.  Especially Hiddleston who I thought killed it as Loki.  I’ve heard some people saying that they thought that the character was portrayed too differently from the comic but I thought that having Loki portrayed as a somewhat sympathetic character who wasn’t being evil for the sake of being evil (Although he does act like a dick for the sake of acting like a dick) worked really well.  Plus I’d say the movie sets up for the move sinister comic book version so there’s no need to go crazy over it.

Despite the fact he isn’t black in comic Idris Elba steals the show as Heimdall.   All you racists and/or overly super comic book nerds who bitched about this change should probably have watched the movie before you said anything because Elba is a very large part of why this movie is as entertaining as it is.  Anthony Hopkins as Odin…dude, it’s Anthony Hopkins as Odin in a very Shakespeare-like type of story; obviously he’s great, we don’t even have to really discuss the details.

In general the reason to watch this movie rests on the shoulders of the Asgard portions, which are really fun. Even Sif and the Warriors Three who don’t do all that much at all in the long run and were fairly flat as characters come off a lot more interesting than they have any right to.  Unfortunately the Earth portions of the movie aren’t as good.   I’m not sure what it is; maybe the transition from the mystical and vibrant world of Asgard to Nowheresville, New Mexico was to jarring for me to handle.  With a few exceptions I found myself not nearly as interested when Thor was hanging out with Jane Foster and her team.  Though to be fair there is far more straight-humor to be found in these scenes than anywhere else.

The real star of the Marvel Film Universe is here!
Natalie Portman co-stars as Jane Foster who was Thor’s original love interest in the 1960s who is portrayed as an astrophysicists rather than a nurse.   That’s fine; it’s not like the character is relevant enough to the comics in the last few DECADES to warrant any real attachment to her.  They could have made her a hooker and I still probably wouldn’t have cared.  The problem is that she’s rather dull.  Now that Portman has proved that she’s got crazy acting skills one would think they’d utilize her more than they did but her character does mostly nothing throughout the film aside from giggling like a school girl over Thor.  Also present is Kat Dennings who plays the original character Darcy, meaning that two ladies from my Hottest Women in Hollywood list appeared in a movie together (So really I was going to see this film no matter what).

A word about Kat Dennings, if I may.

Now you lot have no real way of knowing this but there is a shocking amount of web traffic from search engines for this blog that seem to indicate that folk are under the impression that this is some sort of Kat Dennings Porn Site.  Every week I notice bizarre web searches featuring her name lurking on this site.   Look, I admit that I’d do some pretty shockingly evil things if it meant I could get the chance to go out with Ms. Dennings but it’s not like this blog is some big fansite dedicated to her boobs as these searches seem to indicate.  In fact I mainly only mentioned her in my Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist review. Calm the hell down, internet, you’re creeping me out!

Anyway Dennings is alright here.  Her character is solely around for the sake of comedy making her only slightly less annoying than my old enemy Wacky Black Sidekick.  Still the actor’s inherent charm in a addition to a few fun lines makes her tolerable.  I am serious, guys: Kat Dennings wearing Smarty Pants Glasses is super cute!   Anyway I think both character kind of suffer from a lack of opportunities to develop.  Speaking of development I think the main problem I had with the film, aside for the Earth parts in general, was Thor’s personal growth.  Now I’ve watched this film twice now and I hate to say it but I feel that the filmmakers were lazy about depicting lessons learn to give him humility.  Yeah, it’s there and everything, I suppose, but basically all that happens is that he can’t use his hammer and gets the hots for Natalie Portman.  There needed to be more scenes showing Thor accepting his new role in the world and specific reasoning for his transformation.  An immortal who is hundreds of years old, at least, spends three days in the desert and suddenly he isn’t an asshole?  Come on guys!  At least Loki’s growth made sense considering how he views his relationship with his brother and father and the things he learns in the beginning of the film.

Full disclosure: I had only two real reason to see this film
Also the ending felt abrupt.  The movie literally just stops.  I assume this is setting up for future films, certainly for the Avengers film and likely a direct sequel to this one since it’s made well over 300 million dollars worldwide as of today and it still has a lot of time left in theaters.  However I wish they had wrapped everything up in this flick since a) an abundance of loose plot threads from this film in conjunction with all the Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America stuff would likely make the Avengers feel bloated and b) there’s no guarantee that Thor 2 won’t be a train wreck (See: Iron Man 2) so I’d prefer they preemptively limit the connection between the two movies (Also I don’t like the idea of waiting three years or so to find out what the hell happens next. I’m not patient man, damn it!)

Thor is a fun movie, there’s doubt about it, and that’s the best they really could have hoped for.  It’s not as well written as the original Iron Man movie but it certainly stands above a lot of other lackluster superhero flicks that have been coming out lately (See: Ghost Rider, Iron Man 2, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Spider-Man 3, Jonah Hex). And as I said the themes and visual presented in the Asgard parts are goddamn awesome and more than make up for any problems the movie has, especially the story involving Loki which I absolutely loved.  This is not a typical superhero origin movie, at least from a structural standpoint, and thank God for that.  If you are a fan of the comic you should be able to greatly enjoy seeing the world of Thor come to life.  If you’re a fan of the spectacle of the Harry Potter series you would probably also appreciate it quite a bit as well.  I can say that, despite my nitpicking, watching this flick makes me more excited to see The Avengers next summer than ever.

Racists: Zero, Idris Elba: 56,000
I give Thor 4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.


Pros

- Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, and Anthony Hopkins are all just wonderful in their respective roles

-The plot feels less like the typical superhero movie (Gets powers, fights crime, rescue girlfriend form villain) and more like a fantasy epic

-The visuals, especially Asgard, look amazing

-The Asgardians are done in a way that hides the general lack of characterization (Meaning I was tricked into not caring)

Cons

-Academy Award winning actress Natalie Portman has significantly less to do than she probably should

-Most of the characters aside from the four main Asgardians, are flat

-Thor’s character development felt forced

-The film ends rather abruptly



‘Cross the rainbow bridge of Asgard, where the booming heavens roar, you’ll behold in breathless wonder…THE GOD OF THUNDER, MIGHTY THOR!

3 comments:

  1. Beta,

    Nice review here. I totally agree with you on a couple issues - like how flat the other Asgardian characters were. I was hoping for at least a little more from Sif and the Warriors 3. Oh well, it's not their show is it?

    I also thought that Natalie Portman did a good job, but could have done more - much more - if she had been given the chance.

    But I must say that Anthony Hopkins as Odin just didn't feel right to me. I'm not sure what it was, perhaps the fact that he was a good guy. ;-)

    Anyway, overall I'd rate Thor a B+ film - fun to watch (especially for comic book fans) but lacking in certain aspects. I have written my thoughts about it on Cin's Movie Blog if you are interested.

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  2. hey...nice review..its very helpful for me..

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  3. Thor was everything I expected and more. This movie is off the chain AWESOME! I love it, the cast selection was perfect and the special effect were phenomenal. I'd watch this movie again & again.

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