The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thor

Well, I had been planning to see the midnight showing of this movie since I first saw the leaked San Diego Comic-Con trailer. The buzz was good, and the marketing was smart, not overwhelming, but smart.

Then, on Wednesday, I discovered that my local movie theater would only have midnight showings in 3D. I personally hate 3D, and I especially hate when movies not shot in 3D are post-converted into 3D. It doesn't help that the tickets are much more expensive for 3D at all. So, I called my theater to complain, they said that the orders came from the corporate office and there was nothing they could do. I demanded to speak to the manager. He repeated the bit about the corporate office. I then told him that I and my friends had bad eye-sight and couldn't handle 3D, that we would take our business elsewhere. And then, I laid on the magic word, I said this was discrimination. And, as soon as I used that word, the manager looked at the e-mail again, and what do you know, they were authorized to play "Thor" in 2D for the midnight showing.

By the way, I have perfect 20/20 vision. And so does everyone I came to see the movie with. So, yeah, I bullied my theater into showing it in 2D that night, and pretty much showed that they were full of crap on this issue.

As for the movie itself. I thought it was awesome. Much better than "Iron Man 2." Still trying to decide if I like it better than the first "Iron Man" or not. I'm thinking I might, because Thor and his world would be so much easier to screw up, but they were handled masterfully.

Chris Hemsworth really delivered as Thor. Not once did I feel like I was watching an actor play the God of Thunder. I felt like I was watching a real Viking warrior with godlike powers there. His growth from arrogant, violent, bombastic loudmouth, to a hero was believable even if it took two or three days at most. But Hemsworth really brought the dignity and majesty to this character, even in the more comedic scenes... which were genuinely funny, even though we've seen the fish out of water scenario a million times before.

Natalie Portman seemed to really be having fun as Jane Foster, this time re-imagined as an astrophysicist, rather than a nurse. She was delightful and fun, and brought life to the love interest role, which, let's be honest, most superhero films utterly fail to do.

Anthony Hopkins really brought grace and majesty to the Asgardian All-Father, Odin. While I would have liked to see Brian Blessed in the role, I did appreciate this quiet and aging but all-powerful depiction of Odin. Speak quietly and carry a big staff. He also came off as a loving father, and while I would have liked to hear that he traded his eye for wisdom, rather than losing it in battle with the Frost Giants, I understand that in a movie, these things must be stream-lined.

Now, I have heard some people saying that Sif and the Warriors Three didn't get much in the way of characterization. While they're not wrong, I felt like we got enough to get to know who they are. I liked them a lot, they were a lot of fun. Especially when they did their LARP walk down the main street of a small New Mexico town. And Sif, well, Jaimie Alexander is easy on the eyes. I wonder how her relationship with Thor will develop over the course of this franchise.

And, last, but most certainly not least, Tom Hiddleston is Loki. As with Hemsworth, not once did I feel like I was watching an actor portray the God of Lies. I don't know where Kenneth Branagh went while casting this thing, but somehow, he found the real Loki and convinced him to play the part of himself. Now, I have seen some people say that Loki wasn't evil enough, well, I thought he was plenty evil. A great liar, and a great trickster. But subtle, like a good trickster should be. He didn't chew the scenery. He didn't come off as sneering and evil, and that's a good thing. He fooled the characters, and maybe some of the audience. I'll admit to being fooled by him at some points. When we got to the climax, and I saw what his planned endgame really was. Well, I was taken by surprise. If he was chewing the scenery, well then he wouldn't be a very good trickster, now would he? Kudos to Tom Hiddleston for not playing him as a campy supervillain and actually making him down-to-earth (uh... down-to-asgard?) and relatable.

I thought the rest of the cast was pretty good. It was a delight to see Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson again. And I enjoyed Stan Lee's cameo, as well as J. Michael Straczynski (who got story credit for the movie). And I really enjoyed the cameo from a certain archer. It's subtle, something us comic geeks will pick up on, but doesn't feel obnoxious to the uninitiated.

The plot was good, it wasn't an idiot plot. While it took some liberties with the source material, it never rang false. And, while I don't want to spoil the post-credits scene, I am really, really pumped for "The Avengers."

If there were any flaws, I felt that Asgard looked a little too polished, and rather than look like it was a place where people lived, it looked like a sound stage a lot of the time. Not all the time, but a lot of the time. I also felt that Thor's character arc moved a little quickly, a journey that should have taken weeks took three or four days. But both of those complaints are so minor, that they don't knock down my score.

I give it an A-. I liked it a lot, and the momentum towards "The Avengers" is back.

3 comments:

  1. Who says the little guy doesn't make a difference? Okay the little guy lied, but I'm guessing that's immaterial.

    I might consider going 2 see this. I've noticed a pattern in that I haven't found myself hating ANY movie that you liked (though the opposite is not always true).

    Before I see this, have any words for someone in particular, who doesn't know much about Thor and his world? The most I know about him is the basics of his allegiance with The Avengers.

    Also, I hate 3D as well; not so much because of the product of it's result (though it is a factor), but mainly because it's just a cheap gimmick Hollywood uses to compensate for low ticket sales (or whatever their problem is) when it won't mean anything once the fad fades for the general public.

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  2. Heh, some guys on another message board are calling me a douchebag for doing that. I guess they don't hold their local businesses to the standards of honesty.

    As for Thor and his world, I think the movie does a fairly good job of explaining that all to newcomers. The first act is a bit exposition heavy, but that is a necessary evil.

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  3. So when I was a little kid, I liked three things, Gargoyles, Return to Oz and Thor. And I'm so happy that the creator of Gargoyles likes Thor too! :-)

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