Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thor kicks ass!

I rarely get to see “big person” movies these days. Thanks to my two young daughters, my most recent movie experiences include Tangled, Yogi Bear, and Toy Story 3 (the first and last are recommended. Yogi Bear... not so much). So naturally when the chance to see a grown up movie with a friend of mine finally rolled around, we saw … Thor.

…okay, so Thor is suitable for most kids, too. But let’s face it—these recent Marvel movies are geared just as much for current/former comic book fans in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who want to see spectacle and experience nostalgia for the heroes of their youth. That described my anticipation for this film. And Thor delivers!

I’ve always liked the character of Thor. I was never a big collector of the comic back in the day (Captain America and Savage Sword of Conan were my favorites), but for a time I did collect The Avengers, and next to Cap, Thor was always a favorite. I was (and still am) interested in Vikings and Norse mythology so I felt a natural attraction. I also liked the fact that Thor provided some much needed muscle on the Avengers and could fight guys like Goliath and Ultron in toe-to-toe battles that tore up city streets and knocked over buildings.

Overall, Thor was a very good film and I enjoyed myself immensely. I haven’t seen all the super hero films, but I enjoyed this one more than Spiderman and Batman. It felt bigger and more otherworldly and suffused with glorious comic-book eye candy (Asgard, and in particular the Bifrost Bridge, looked great). I liked the big, bold, dramatic acting, which plainly had a Kenneth Branagh influence. Heimdall was very cool character.

Given that Thor is a God of Thunder from another plane there are naturally going to be cultural clashes when he comes to earth. These made for some of the funniest and best scenes in the movie. My favorite bit was a scene in which Thor is eating in a diner and has his first cup of coffee. Enjoying it, he slams the empty mug down on the floor, shattering it into a thousand pieces as he shouts, “Another!”, as if he were in some great mead hall in Asgard. I laughed out loud. I also loved the scenes in which Thor loses his powers and is a mortal man but doesn’t realize it until he’s overpowered by a group of scientists, or finds himself at the wrong end of a stun-gun.

The best thing about the movie is the actors, which I wasn’t expecting. Chris Hemsworth was very charismatic and played an entirely convincing Thor. I had never heard of him previously but can see him blossoming into a big time action star. Anthony Hopkins was good as Odin, bringing the gravitas to the role one would expect. The guy who played Loki was great (though not quite as buff as the Loki I remember from the comics), both scheming and sympathetic. And the love interest between Natalie Portman’s character and Thor worked for me. It was done simply and sincerely and left you feeling the pang of separation.

I thought Thor had some problems. S.H.I.E.L.D. struck me as far too inept/gullible. There was a fight between Thor and a steel-encased guardian that ended in anti-climactic fashion, given the big build-up of the guardian’s powers. Thor is exiled to earth and loses his powers, and when they are restored I wanted to see more of him in action, flying and exhibiting great feats of strength and skill with Mjolnir. Alas, he was whisked off far too quickly to Asgard at film’s end for the final climactic show-down with Loki.

Also, I never really understood (or cared) what Portman’s character was trying to do with her pseudo-scientific project. And I would have liked to have seen a little more of the culture shock that would naturally result when you get an alien God walking the streets of earth. By film’s end Thor seems pretty comfortable in jeans and a flannel shirt, which seemed entirely too quick and convenient.

But in the end Thor left me both saying “wow” and wanting more of this character—which is probably exactly what the film makers intended, given that Thor, Iron Man, and the forthcoming Captain America are all coordinated build ups to 2012’s The Avengers, which is now pretty much a must-see for me.


Lagomorph Rex said...

I really hate reading this sort of thing from people I know to have good taste in this matters. It weakens my resolve.

I suppose a Netflix rental of Thor will be needed before the Avengers comes out..

Eric D. Lehman said...

I thought it was a delightful romp. And the last line...that's how to end a film.

Brian Murphy said...

Hi Lagomorph... weakens your resolve? Have you resolved not to see Thor (or do you not go to the theatre on general principle)?

Eric: I agree, fun film!

Lagomorph Rex said...

A bit from Column B, but a big chunk from Column A.

I've decided to Opt out of the 3D thing, and as such I avoid seeing any film that makes use of the technology. I made the mistake with Avatar and felt I wasted my money, since all I got was a good case of motion sickness.

I've also never been a huge fan of the THOR comics, but I have became less so as I've gotten older and realized just how badly it diverges from the mythology. But I make it a point not to see films where there is no president for a characters ethnicity or cultural background being changed.

for all the good it will do, I'm voting with my wallet. Seeing the films presents no problems.. it's paying for them that I refuse to do.