Tuesday 10 May 2011

Movie Review: Thor

I see the name Anthony Hopkins and I think top quality dramatic acting, a larger than life character. (The Silence of the Lambs? Wow!) I see the name Kenneth Branagh and I think of the pinnacle of professional acting as in Shakespeare. (Othello? Hamlet? Much Ado About Nothing? All film adaptations of the Bard) I see the name Thor and I think of my childhood reading of Marvel Comics about Stan Lee's adaption of the Norse god legend with its stories of the fight between good and evil. It's May, the start, albeit an early start of the summer blockbuster season with its superheroes, special effects extravaganzas, and the newest cinematic technologies such as IMAX and 3D all aiming to capture our entertainment dollars by blowing our socks off.

Anybody who has ever had their nose stuck in a comic knows that the superheroes are muscular hunks and the superheroines are, ah, curvaceous. In other words, these are specimens of the human race which are not necessarily your usual guy and girl of the street. As a consequence, item number one for the making of this film was to find a suitable strong guy and the film makers lucked into one Chris Hemsworth from Australia. Best known for playing a soap opera in Australia, his first recognisable role was playing James T. Kirk's father in the Star Trek reboot of 2009. He then played in the 2010 Ca$h which got him further notice. Thor is his first starring role and with his shirt off, I can say all of this gentleman's workouts are now bearing fruit as he looks the part of the muscular, good-looking Norse god. Oh yeah, he can also act.

The story of Thor is fairly well known so this plot synopsis won't be much of a spoiler. Basically Thor gets cocky, does something stupid, and his father Oden (Anthony Hopkins) takes away his powers and banishes him from Asgard to Earth to learn to grow up. Comedy ensues as Thor works with some Earthlings to regain his place back with the gods. Bad things happen back in Asgard, Thor is rescued from Earth, and he redeems himself by saving the kingdom. Just another day in the life of your average superhero Norse god.

I went to see the film in 3D and oddly enough, several times during the screening I flipped up the glasses to look at the screen. My impression was that the film didn't seem very 3Dish. I'm not sure what exactly the problem was, but in several times with the glasses up, what I was looking at on the screen was not the usual odd distorted images one sees when you look at a 3D film without the glasses. It was almost as if the film was showing more in 2D and the 3D glasses weren't always necessary. Of course, maybe it's just me. I did note that the cost of the ticket was not around $12 for a daytime showing but close to $16 so somebody was trying to dig a few extra shekels out of my pocket for this supposedly enhanced cinematic experience. The Wikipedia article on the film talks a bit about the filming which may explain what I saw.

In July 2010, it was reported that the film will be released in 3-D. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Branagh stated that the 3-D process initially made him cringe but "We came to feel that in our case 3-D could be the very good friend of story and character for a different kind of experience". Although 2-D was used for principal photography, producer Kevin Fiege stated that the "special effects for the film were conceived and executed from the beginning in 3-D".

Trailer #1

Trailer #2

As an aside, when putting together this piece, I went to the Net to find the movie trailers. Is it me or are the advertisements on YouTube really, really annoying?

Final Word
Obviously anybody needs to pick the films they like and this one is your superhero summer blockbuster special effects whiz-bang of an action flick. - There's a mouthful for you. - This isn't your profound character study, but Hopkins and Branagh do bring some Shakespearian weightiness to this Norse god tale. It's supposed to be a fun thrill ride and it delivers in that regard. - I leave it to you to interpret a rating of 78% from Rotten Tomatoes. - If you have the chance, I would advise you to go see the film in IMAX. Heck, anything is better in IMAX and while the 3D didn't bowl me over, I'm sure a six story screen will more than make up for anything lacking elsewhere. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride while you eat your popcorn.


Rotten Tomatoes: Thor: 78%
A dazzling blockbuster that tempers its sweeping scope with wit, humor, and human drama, Thor is mighty Marvel entertainment.

Wikipedia: Thor
Thor is a 2011 American superhero film based on comic book character of the same name published by Marvel Comics and is the fourth film released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film was released on April 21, 2011 in Australia and on May 6, 2011 in the United States. Thor was also released in 3D and IMAX 3D. The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, and Stellan Skarsgård with Kenneth Branagh directing a script by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, and Don Payne.

Wikipedia: Thor (Marvel Comics)
Thor is a fictional superhero who appears in publications published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Journey into Mystery #83 (Aug. 1962) and was created by editor-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and penciller Jack Kirby.

Rotten Tomatoes: pictures about the movie

Wikipedia: Thor (Norse god)
In Germanic paganism, Thor is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, destruction, fertility, healing, and the protection of mankind. Thor is frequently referenced in place names, the day of the week Thursday ("Thor's day") bears his name, and names stemming from the pagan period containing his own continue to be used today.


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