|"Seriously Thor, I swear I didn't know my army would be so BIG... or how crazy they'd be! ...should we run?"|
Kenneth Branagh directs this take on Shakespearean Norse "gods" who are really aliens, and Marvel superheroes. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) the "god of thunder" and son of Odin, (Anthony Hopkins) the king of Asgard, is poised to succeed his father as king. He is strong, and handsome, and, oh yeah, has an ego the size of the nine realms. When Thor foolishly nearly destroys Odin's peace treaty with the Frost Giants, Odin does what every good king would do; he banishes him to a out-of-the-way world called Earth. When and only when he is worthy, will he be able to claim his hammer and his powers.
Immediately upon his arrival on earth, Thor runs into -- er, is run into by scientist Jane Foster, (Natalie Portman) her colleague Dr. Erik Selvig, (Stellan Skarsgård) and intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) as they track strange weather patterns. Jane doesn't know it yet, but the large, odd acting dude she just "grazed" with her car is the answer to all her questions. Back in Asgard, Thor's friends, Lady Sif, (Jaimie Alexander) and fellows Frandal, (Josh Dallas) Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) consider how to get Thor out of his banishment, while his brother, the "god of mischief" Loki, (Tom Hiddleston) eyes Thor's would-be throne with jealousy, while having a bit of an identity crisis.
|"This is not funny, father, humans are so petty and tiny!"|
Branagh is mostly known for his Shakespeare adaptations, so he was a very interesting, interestingly fitting choice to direct Thor. It may be sci-fi, but Asgardians know how to use their "thee's" and "thou's" and to never use contractions, and if the conflict between Thor and Loki and their father isn't Shakespearean, I don't know what is. Branagh does an especially impressive job with the latter of these. The most compelling conflicts of this movie are not physical ones.
But I do question some of his choices. Like, what is up with the angled shot composition? It's pretty distracting as I always feel like cocking my head. It only really works when it's a shot of Thor and Jane together -- that's the only way to fit Jane's head in without zooming way out, but that's it. Neither am I a big fan of Thor being a complete fish-out-of water on Earth. It did make for some amusing, some hilarious situations, but it's not practical for him to be that naive. I don't know if these are things Branagh really had a say about though... it could be more a producer/screenwriter problem.
|It's not at all odd that Thor falls in love with the first human woman he meets, is it?|
My thoughts on the scope of the film and the action of the film are very similar; I thoroughly enjoy, and am sometimes impressed by what I see, but there's sometimes something lacking. Asgard is beautiful and creative, and fills you with wonder, and just isn't used enough. And fight sequences -- particularly the one in the Frost Giant world -- don't have the snap and crackle they could have; they get generic. The most exciting action sequence is when Thor fights off highly trained humans as he goes to claim Mjolnir, it's epic, memorable and involving, perhaps because he's not super-powered at the time?
I wish Thor's four friends had more screen-time and development... which is a complaint and a complement since I liked them enough to want to see more. (Hoping for, and expecting more in The Dark World!) Their best bit of development was their being described as "Xenia, Jackie Chan and Robin Hood" but they left out Gimli! Hopkins as Odin is kingly and very solid; Dr. Selvig and Darcy do what they're meant to -- feed the plot, and add comic relief, but nothing more. Clark Gregg as Coulson makes an appearance, and shows up all the other side characters in awesomeness with ease. And Jeremy Renner has a short cameo as Hawkeye.
|Jackie Chan, Robin Hood and Gimli.Fitting descriptions, I think.|
As for the man himself, Hemsworth is a bit stiff at first, all proper and aloof, but we do warm to him as he learns humility and to be a true hero. He doesn't grow on you as quickly as is ideal, but since he's in multiple films now, it's a minor problem. He has some great one-liners and does physical humor very well, and once we like him, he's even endearing. Hemsworth's real strength as Thor though, is his appearance -- he is Thor, no question. Now, Jane, well... I don't like Jane. But that's personal, and really more of a dislike of Portman whose acting irks me. Her portrayal of Jane is fine, but there's nothing really special about her.
Okay, I left someone out, right? Who... oh, right, the guy in green... what was his name...? Just kidding, I was saving the best for last of course! Loki! When I saw Thor for the first time, I tried to like the main character best. It's what you're supposed to do. I thought it was quite odd and sad that the bad guy was more sympathetic than the hero though. Since, I've developed a much more... avid opinion on the subject. Hiddleston's Loki breaks your heart. He does and tries to do some horrendous things, but his situation is so pitiable and Hiddleston plays him with so much charm and complexity and pathos and fervor and understanding, he becomes lovable in spite of his deeds, because we understand him as well. Yet, at the same time, he is an incredibly sinister villain -- but it's only a sneak peek compared to his full-fledged evil villain in The Avengers. I don't know how he managed the role so perfectly, but I'm delighted that he did. Tom Hiddleston is the man.
|Does this even need words? No.|
In case you haven't guessed it yet, Loki is my favorite. But don't get me wrong, I like this movie as a whole on its own merit, Loki's just a step above. This isn't a masterpiece, but there's a bunch more to in it to love than to gripe about; it's is perfectly cast where it counts, looks unique and stylish, is driven by fun and humor, but stays grounded in truth. It may not be realistic, (in fact it's can get downright cheesy) but its themes are. Thor is a colorful bout of glee and sincerity. And if the sequel keeps up the tradition, it will doubtlessly be a success, so, there's only one thing left to say: come on, Dark World!