Monday, May 9, 2011


Even the thought of a Thor movie had me caring very little. I just kept thinking to myself how unadaptable for the screen the Marvel Comics character was. I became a little excited when Kenneth Branagh was announced as the director (Branagh is the British director of some excellent films- Henry V, Dead Again, Peter's Friends, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, As You Like It... some okay ones- Love Labour's Lost... and some horrible ones- Frankenstein and Sleuth). Then the trailer looked campy as all hell. I pretty much went into this movie with no expectations. Well, I walked out with the same sense of surprise as I did three years ago when Jon Favreau's Iron Man came out.

Don't get me wrong, this was still your typical summer blockbuster (crappy 3D included), but my fanboy side came out and enjoyed the film for what is was worth. Branagh and co. managed to make something that should be so difficult to translate from page-to-screen and have it be relatable. This should be no surprise. I'm not an avid reader, but I consider Branagh's adaptations of Shakespeare's work (especially his Hamlet) to be fantastic films that I can relate to on some level. With Thor, the cast and crew find an emotional core to these characters and give it a healthy amount of humor and action.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is an Asgardian god, who after igniting a war between Asgard and the King of the Frost Giants (Colm Feore), he is banished by his father (Anthony Hopkins as Odin) to Earth. On Earth, Thor meets a beautiful scientist (Natalie Portman as Jane Foster) and must figure out how to get back to his homeland all while his nefarious brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) plots to overthrow his own royal family.

It is ultimately a story about finding oneself and much like the comic book character, Thor can be a very stubborn guy. He lives for the battle and because of that quality, he hasn't really matured as perhaps Odin would have wanted him to. It takes him getting in touch with his humanity (of course with the help of actual humans) to finally mature into his position as a future leader of his people. The cast (also including Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, Clark Gregg, Jaimie Alexander, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Joshua Dallas, Rene Russo, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jeremy Renner) are all very committed to their characters (and as a fan of the comic book, I felt like everyone understood where those characters came from both historically and emotionally speaking).

Sadly, my opinion of this film stems more from that as a fan of the source material than as a moviegoer. I'm not much of a fan of action blockbusters, so don't get me wrong, things are dumbed down so this movie can be marketed to the common denominator of a summer movie audience member. Not that I'm bashing big budget science-fiction epics, I just want the emotional dimensions of these stories to be more complex. Yes, it isn't as artful as Branagh's other films (but that was to be expected as I just mentioned above) so in the end, the film is not as artful as it is fun, but what a lot of fun it is.

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