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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Thor


Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Synopsis: The epic adventure THOR spans the Marvel Universe from present day Earth to the mystical realm of Asgard. At the center of the story is The Mighty Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. 
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hr. 55 min.
Distributor:Paramount Pictures
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh
Written By: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne

Chris Hemsworth  • Thor
Tom Hiddleston  • Loki 
Natalie Portman • Jane Foster
Anthony Hopkins  • Odin 
Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd • Professor Andrews 
Jaimie Alexander • Sif 
Colm Feore • Laufey
Joshua Dallas • Fandral 
Ray Stevenson  • Volstagg
Tadanobu Asano • Hogun 
Idris Elba • Heimdall
Kat Dennings • Darcy 
Clark Gregg • Agent Coulson
Rene Russo • Frigga 
Adriana Barraza • Isabela Alvarez
Maximiliano Hernandez • Agent Sitwell 
Richard Cetrone • Frost Giant Captain

A movie Walter Mitty would have loved. Shakespearean drama trades back and forth with pedestrian modern day Earth “soap style” theatrics. Although I was glad to see the creation of Asgaard high in the heavens, due to the early trailers not including much else besides a look at Natalie Portman, I did wish that the movie did a little more of something on at least one side of the universe. Because there are two stories, we only get a sort of “fill in” from both camps. We don’t really know astrophysicist (one time nurse) Jane Foster any more than we do Anthony Hopkin’s Odin the all father. We just know what they do and what they don’t do. I suppose that this is mainly to time constraints on both sides. But that sort of thing is typical of what goes on here writing wise. Thor’s not stupid, he’s a battle tested veteran and knows his way around hand to hand combat, with frost giants and also Navy SEALS. But if you ask him how he knows Shield Agent Colson is an ally protecting the innocent general public, or even how Jane Foster, an astrophysicist who studies space phenomenon, (and she isn’t something like a missionary who is saving starving children in Africa); manages to imbue him with mature altruism, I doubt that Thor himself could tell you. Certainly the story doesn’t. But those explanations will have to float off into comic movie oblivion as they are the only real complaints I have for this rip roaring block buster.     

Chris Helmsworth is well worth the ticket for a Thor public and fits the role nicely, he’s big enough, buff enough and has a certain charm I know the ladies who go for the Norwegian blonde type will just love. His brother Loki, played by Tom Hiddleson to great effect, vies with Thor despite himself for his father’s approval. Hiddleson gives us subtle shades of Loki I had never seen in the comic book as we see his inner struggle between himself, and the life he has grown up with. That is to say, he has become disillusioned by his place in life, and can’t quite decide what is more important; the status quo or his own shocked resentment. A nice change from cackling super villains. 

Anthony Hopkins plays father Odin, as only HE can, and we believe in Odin’s character, we just never really get to know him. A real shame. Odin casts Thor out of the Kingdom and down to Earth for his impetuousness, though he seems not to know the why and where that Thor got the “bee in his bonnet” in the first place that brings him to his actions. Curious, because supposedly Odin can see all things. Ah, well. 

Portman’s Jane Foster would have made more sense to me in her effects on Thor had they left her as a nurse as she is in the comics, or if as I have said, she was a missionary who broke Thor’s heart with her self sacrificing work for those who can’t help themselves. Ooo! Boy would that have killed! But instead she is a scientist, who no doubt, from the way things work out, will team up with Tony Stark in the future for the next chapter in considerations of Thor’s place in the grand scheme of Marvel movie directives. She only lacks funding and the science magic of Stark himself. Portman is everywhere today, and one thing she is definitely doing is leaving a legacy of malleability only rivaled by Johnny Depp. Unlike say, William Shatner or Tony Randal, you never see her the same way twice. That’s accomplishment! 

Other secondary characters who make a splash are, Jaimie Alexander as the female warrior,  Sif who is actually Thor’s lady love in the comics. (One classic comic story is where Thor must save Sif from Dracula, natch!) Alexander is great and really looks the part of the character, though she is NOT part of the team other than here in this movie. Idris Elba as Heimdall the protector of the rainbow bridge,  is also chillingly effective and commanding, even in his secondary role.   

Others have said they didn’t like the computer generation of Asgaard, but I can’t agree. Other worlds in other dimensions of space have never been so amazingly rendered. For me, it was money well spent, and I loved the care and detail and sweeping majesty of the kingdom. I also loved the traveling through the vastness of space, which no one from Asgaard or the Frost Giant realm seem at all in awe of. The power that Thor wields, just in the ability to transverse worlds, puts him in a league all his own. I would say that the Hulk has his hands full in tussling with Thor, and remember, the Hulk was throwing around automobiles like frisbees in his last outing.  

Thor is a funny movie at times in the populist predictability of movie making these days, and the fact that a Simpson’s writer is involved added lots of familiar touch to the comedic moments. It does however, undercut the potential serious drama that could have made the movie a real gut checker, being about disgrace, justice and redemption; especially if it had been coupled with a missionary female lead.   

Thor’s fight scenes are truly great stuff, that hammer of his makes wimps of some of the most potentially horrific monsters and enemies that we have come to see in modern movies. But for Thor, he hardly flinches in the face of something like the “Cracken” from another movie. The fact that Loki proves to be a physical if not a tactical match for Thor, is portentous for the upcoming Avengers movie, of which Loki is one of the main bad guys, so I have heard. But Thor need not worry, with the likes of Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk backing him up, Loki will have his hands full. It’s the Avengers movie itself that may overheat and explode all over the audience if not handled properly. It will take special care to pull off so many ridiculous improbabilities in one movie.

Good stuff here folks. It’s hard to make it a 4 of 5, because it seems so presentational, so I give it 3.5 out of 5. But on a personal level, I liked it better than that. 

3.5/5 stars - oh what the hell, go see it. 

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