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I beheld in breathless wonder…

May 6, 2011

I just got back from seeing Thor. For a while I’ve been kicking around whether or not to give brief thoughts of comic book movies on this blog. I usually see every superhero flick when it comes out (“support the team” and all that), so it wouldn’t exactly call for any extra effort on my part to do so. It seems a natural fit, and I can think of no better comic-to-film property to get things started than the character whose original book gave the title to this little spot in the web.

Thor is better than it has any right to be, and I mean that in the best way possible.

I’m sort of tired and have my customary post-3D headache, so let me just go through this thing in bullet fashion to give you the highs and hmms:

  1. I was concerned about the casting of Thor. I was worried that Chris Hemsworth wouldn’t be able to pull off the big brick of meat that is the God of Thunder. My fears have been allayed. He is Thor. He fills the hero role in the proud tradition of Hugh Jackman, Robert Downey, Jr. and, dare I say it, Christopher Reeve. In fact, no one in this thing seems out of place, from the earnest Natalie Portman as Jane Foster to Tom Hiddleston in a memorable turn as Loki. And folks, Loki’s horns don’t for a moment feel stupid, and he is the scheming, wounded prince that we all know and loathe. He really channels some Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator here.
  2. Asgard is magnificent. It makes sense and seems natural — even the Rainbow Bridge.
  3. Wasn’t Rene Russo a star at one time? She’s barely in this. They must have been paying her by the word.
  4. When Thor is whipping Mjolnir about like a propeller blade, I saw Jack Kirby. When he’s flying around, I saw Walt Simonson.
  5. A certian Marvel character soon to be in The Avengers makes a not-so-secret cameo in this. It’s very forced and sticks out like a sore thumb, which isn’t surprising since he was cast in his role after they finished principal photography on this puppy. But there’s a very brief allusion to a gamma-irradiated scientist that made me smile. So those two things cancel each other out.
  6. Towards the end, I thought to myself I am watching Thor fight Loki. On the Rainbow Bridge. And it doesn’t look silly. I feel like I should pat Kenneth Branagh on the back for that. Or, more fittingly, buy him a flagon of mead. (Though his tendency to tilt the camera in half his shots can grow a bit old.)
  7. They really have to stop forcing this 3D crap down our throats. It’s a stupid gimmick. At no point is it necessary for this film. Except to make me pay more to see it.
  8. The “fish out of water” stuff in Mew Mexico is genuinely funny. When Thor walks heedlessly into traffic, much to the dismay of local motorists, I half expected him to pull a Jim Kirk and fire back a “Double dumbass on you!”
  9. The Warriors Three and Sif’s roles were fairly thin, and though I picked up on smaller bits of characterization with them I’m wondering if moviegoers unfamiliar with the source material would have the same impressions.
  10. Sam Jackson’s de rigueur post-credits appearance introduces a classic Marvel WMD to the film universe. Just put me in a coma now and wake me up next year for The Avengers.

There. That wasn’t so hard.

Thor gets four out of five Mjolnirs, making it a Blog into Mystery must-see.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. neill permalink
    May 7, 2011 11:27 am

    Hey, many thanks for the preview–and also helping me to decide whether to go with the 3-D version.

    • May 8, 2011 12:10 pm

      In full disclosure, my default position (one only deviated from in very rare circumstances) is to avoid 3D like the plague. But even considering that, there is absolutely no reason to watch this in 3D unless you want to see a dimmer picture and wear goofy glasses.

      • June 18, 2012 8:08 pm

        Sorry, but I LOVE 3D, want to get a 3D TV set, camcorder, DVD player, AND camera (digital and analog film) to take 3D pictures. I’m kinda tired of you people and this Neo-Luddite bullshit-please go back in time and live there if you can’t stand it (BTW, View Master is a 3D type thing-I don’t see people bitching about that! How come?)

  2. Larry E permalink
    May 8, 2011 12:00 am

    I liked how it started out with a Tales of Asgard plot, segued into the superhero origin and then finished up on Asgard. One look at Hiddleston and I saw the face of Loki in the comics. He looked that good in the role. The Destroyer sequences were awesome, made me want to see this team take a turn at Crusher Creel. I would’ve liked to have heard an “I say thee nay!” just once.

    • May 8, 2011 12:14 pm

      Hiddleston really does make this movie — it’s nice to see a Marvel-produced flick with a properly handled top tier villain. He’ll be the primary foe in The Avengers, and here’s hoping this success carries over.

  3. Thelonious_Nick permalink
    May 11, 2011 2:01 pm

    Normally I don’t see movies in opening weekend, as I don’t like the crowds. However, my parents were in town last week, so I took advantage of the free baby-sitting and went to see Thor with my wife, who is by now resigned to these comic book movies.

    To address your points:
    #2) I had great fears Asgard would look stupid, but it didn’t. It looked exactly how it was supposed to.

    #8) Yes, it was funny, and the movie needed more of it.

    #9) The movie also needed more Warriors Three. In fact, I thought that was probably the movie’s biggest weakness–these guys just seemed like random Norse warriors along for the ride, with only bare hints of their personalities. Sif was the only who stood out in the least.

    Overall, better than I feared but not really good. Iron Man, Spider-Man 2, those were movies that surprised me with how good they were. Thor was merely serviceable.

    • May 12, 2011 5:11 am

      Serviceable? Dagger. I guess that’s equivalent to when a quarterback is called a “good game manager,” i.e. a compliment so weak it’s actually a condemnation. To each their own.

      The more I think about the Warriors Three in this, the more I’m okay with their screentime. We tend to go into these movies with a lot of baggage, expecting 50 years of continuity and character development to be compressed into two hours. That’s unfair to the filmmakers (and I’m often as guilty of this unfairness as the next man). If the Warriors Three came off as random Norse warriors, it might be because that’s how they had to come off in a story that was at its core about Thor’s time on Earth and Loki’s machinations. Though I definitely missed Hogun’s furry hat and Genghis Khan whiskers.

      Thanks for the thoughts. A little bit of dissent is never a bad thing.

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