Flippin’ heck. It seems that for ONCE, a film has been released here in the UK before it was released in The States. I’m always waiting around for an extra month or two to see the big films whilst my fellow Yanks Facebook it up about how much they loved the movies that we haven’t gotten over here yet. And I’m not talking about some little Merchant Ivory British-funded indy fuffy-collared snoozefest…I’m talking mega-blockbuster stuff. Because I swear by Odin’s beard, that I saw Thor on Wednesday. Let’s talk about it as today’s great thing:
So, just by the sheer fact that this is a blog about things I dig, you must have already assumed that this was going to be a positive review. You are correct. Thor is a well-made movie. I went in with low expectations. Because, let’s be honest–it had the potential to be a circus of superhero embarrassment. Think about it, the script includes a guy with a winged helmet and magical hammer/a rainbow bridge/nasty frost giants. Ridick! And potentially helladumb. But, it’s terrific– it’s entertaining, it’s wholesome, it looks expensive despite the lack of A-list celebs (well, minus Natalie Portman, that is). Plus, I had racked up enough points on my AMC card that I got a free large popcorn and soda with purchase of my ticket. Whatta day! Nom nom.
What you have to consider, I suppose, is that–though Marvel co-opted the character for its pantheon of heroes–it is originally based on Nordic mythology. As silly as some of the ancient mythological tales are, they will always have classic potential–just because everyone understands and respects the age and elements of myth. So, even though Kenneth Branagh is a somewhat untested director–as far as blockbusters go–there is one thing he knows REAL good: The Classics. He is super genius in terms of Shakespearean material and he did a pretty bang-up job in his retelling of Frankenstein. And that’s what he was able to manipulate Thor into.–a classic. He didn’t let us forget that he was dealing with was a tale of gods and mortals and it was fascinating.
Props to the casting director for picking a guy that actually looks like Thor. So often, I’m disappointed with the selections made for superheroes. Whilst Christian Bale PLAYED a good Batman, I don’t think he’s the perfect choice. Even buffed up, he’s a bit too thin in the face and they could have dyed his hair jet black. Yes, I’m picky, I know–typical fangirl reaction…but when you read the comics for years and years you get a definite and mostly consistent visual image and it’s disappointing when people don’t think it’s important. The performance is important too but there are thousands of capable actors out there. Get the perfect match of lookalike and good actor, you lazies! Six foot-three Australian actor Chris Hemsworth, who was relatively unknown (only thing I know him from is his performance as Kirk’s dad in the recent Star Trek reboot), not only played the role well but groomed himself to match the current image of Thor as depicted in the Marvel Comics.
Though the film is just shy of two hours, it felt even leaner than that. It started with a whizz bang–Thor is dropped onto Earth within the first five minutes, they rush into WHY that happened immediately, and then proceed to flip between Thor’s adventure in our realm and what is going on in Asgard with near perfect pacing. I would almost go ahead and say that Branagh could have added ten minutes or so to flesh out Portman’s character a bit more (the girlfriend role is often an undernourished one in hero flicks.) Could have also stood for another light entertainment style scene of Thor coming to terms with the difference between Earthlings and Asgardians (the diner scene–for instance–was adorable.)
Another reason to love this film is that, apparently, white supremacists hate it. They’re pissed off that Idris Elba (of The Wire) plays Norse deity, Heimdall, and are urging a boycott. Guardian Article
Obviously, this article just makes me love Marvel Comics even more.
Finally, the picture cozily fits into the Marvel Universe. Though it stands on its own, it also serves to rev up the nerd fan base for next year’s Avenger’s film. (There is the standard “Easter Egg” after the credits roll as well.)
Hope they pull this trick off for Green Lantern. That franchise faces similar difficulties as far as levels of preposterousness go. (Magic space ring? Intergalactic police force? The power of imagination?) I like the idea of Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan but I’m NOT crazy about how they’ve done his costume up. I pray nightly for it. Anyway, let’s look at Thor again, shall we? I might be a big old homo, but my lord, look at those guns!!!
I’ll tell you what this film did…it made me, a bona-fide comic book fan, care more about a character who I haven’t paid that much attention to. I’ve tried jumping onto Thor’s comic title before and have always left it after a few issues. It’s just never been my thing. From a blockbuster perspective, this is Iron Man all over again. A less than immediately recognizable comic franchise has been made awesome. Still…as much as I liked this incarnation of Thor, nothing can ever top that scene from Adventures in Babysitting.
Overall, I give Kenneth Branagh’s Thor 8.5 out of 10. Here’s the trailer if you’re not already sold on it.