Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Thor


And to think I was so worried about the Thor movie.....

It just had so much potential for being a disaster. A virtually unknown leading man, all that "Get thee hence, mortal!" dialogue, flowing blonde locks and red cloaks, a big ol' hammer.....


How wrong can you be? James and I watched the movie in our local flea-pit a couple of nights ago and both loved it.
Director Ken Branagh is a self-confessed Thor fan from an early age and handles the material with just the right balance of seriousness and humour. The plot sticks closely to the classic Lee/Kirby and Lee/Buscema tales of Thor from the '60s and '70s, which is fine by me.

After a brief prologue on present-day Earth, we find ourselves soaring through the heavens to Asgard, home of the gods. After a brief but well-sketched introduction to Odin, Thor and Loki, and to the theme of rivalry between the brothers for the old man's attention, the scene is set for widescreen hammer action, as Thor and his companions misguidedly attack the Frost Giants of Jottenheim. Cue spectacular CGI battles across shattering icy landscapes, shame and banishment for the upstart Thor, and sly looks from the shadows from wily Loki. Exiled to Earth, Thor is powerless and presumed mad, has run-ins with hospital staff and government agents, meets up with gorgeous astro-physicist Jane Foster, has to face Asgardian super-weapon The Destroyer, and learns humility the hard way, before finally returning to the Golden Realm for a showdown with the usurper Loki.


OK, the things I love about this movie:

Chris Hemsworth is totally convincing as Thor, managing to capture the arrogance of the young god as well as his growing maturity and nobility. He is physically a perfect fit for the role and brings charm and good humour to a character who could be pomposity itself.

The interpretation of Asgard ( glistening spires and towers ) and the Rainbow Bridge ( a fantastic portal between worlds ) is glorious, and is a fitting tribute to the work of visionary comics artists like Jack Kirby, John Buscema or Walt Simonson.

Idris Elba as Heimdall, gate-keeper of the Rainbow Bridge, is seriously bad-ass...

Branagh's direction is superb, only being as flashy as it needs to be to tell the story. The transitions between Earth and other, fantastic realms are virtually seamless, Branagh managing to make it all feel part of the same universe.

The love story between Thor and Jane is actually quite sweet. Although I'm sure any sequel would have to touch on the familiar question of how a god can love a mere mortal.

Mjolnir!! It's hammer time! The action scenes are great, expansive explosions of chaos, with Thor's hammer spinning, smashing and summoning storms..... but not turning into a gnarled, old cane at inopportune moments.....

Tom Hiddleston ( Loki ) and Natalie Portman ( Jane ) are both wonderful in their very different roles and I'd love to see the god of mischief meet the woman of science in a future Thor movie. Somehow, I don't think they'd get on.....


The things I don't like about this movie:

Not much, really. My only real complaints would be that Thor's Asgardian buddies, the Lady Sif and the Warriors Three, are under-used ( please let's have more of them in the sequel! ) and Thor's battle with The Destroyer feels truncated when it should have been epic. Oh, and the 3D was mostly pointless. The only film I've seen in this recent 3D fad to totally convince and to warrant the process is ( of course ) Avatar. I'd be very tempted to see Thor again in good old 2D. And, going by the box office figures so far, I wouldn't be the only one.

Oh yeah, for once I came away from the cinema quite happy with the trailers on offer. Instead of promos for the latest drippy rom-com or gross-out teen movie, we saw very action-hero-appropriate trailers for Green Lantern, POTC: On Stranger Tides, X-Men First Class and Captain America. As Marvel's next big-screen hopeful, Cap's got a lot to live up to.....

Soundtrack: Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill and Sorry Somehow by The Klams

8 comments:

DEZMOND said...

great review, THOR seems to be everything I expected it to be. But Branagh is a legend and I never expected anything less from him.
I do adore Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, but I'm not sure how am I going to watch the film since I can't stand that horrid Portman woman.

cerebus660 said...

Dezzy, just grit your teeth, you'll be fine ;-)

Matthew K. said...

Yesss I knew it! Branagh delivers the goods. I see it in 4 days. Thanks for not divulging the post-credit cameo by one of the future Avengers (I'm sure there WAS one).

Faaantastic! :D

cerebus660 said...

Of course, that's just my opinion. You might hate it, Matthew.
But I doubt it :-)

Yes, there is a post-credits scene ( which is more intriguing than exciting ) but you have to wait through a looooong list of special effects guys, hairdressers, hammer-wranglers ;-)

Duckers said...

Thanks for this review. I too feared they might mess up this film (in the same way they messed up Fantastic Four, in my opinion). It clearly had the capacity to be both overly camp, awful and alienating to non-fanboy audiences. It's a relief to hear it's none of these things. Keep up the good work.

cerebus660 said...

Thanks for the comment, mate! As I've said, this is only my opinion, but I really think Branagh and co. have got this movie spot-on. It's got the real spirit of adventure a Thor story should have, as well as some fine performances and a lot of heart.

And, yeah, I was disappointed with the FF movies, too. I hear there's a reboot on the way ( already! )so hopefully we'll eventually see a film that does justice to Lee & Kirby's greatest creations...

Kal said...

I just watched this today and I have to echo every one of your points. It was an excellent live action comic book tale with a near perfect cast. It didn't try to be something other than it was and that is why it succeeded.

cerebus660 said...

Glad you enjoyed the movie, Cal. I just hope Thor is as big a hit in America ( and Canada! ) as it is here, and paves the way for a sequel or two...

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