Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thor (2011)

Overall Score: 7.00/10

Hi, and welcome to Thor Review number 9,291 in your Google Feed Reader. We here at A Life in Equinox are proud to now present our vaguely similar thoughts to what most other people are saying about the film. If you don't want to read anything negative about Thor, please cover your eyes and whack aimlessly at your mouse now.

If I could boil down Marvel's latest endeavor to just one simple concept, it would be this: self-awareness. Every movie is not just aware of its place within the context of the greater cinematic picture. It's also aware of its place within public lore. The aspects of its story that can be mocked, are. The aspects of its story that can be championed, are. And this concept succeeds because of one simple thing: Marvel knows the formula for making a successful superhero movie.

Unfortunately, one thing is lost amidst all that self-awareness... a sense of self. Each movie is so wrapped up in being ironic, self-referential, and inter-series referential that it leaves its characterizations at the door. Life defining events are simplified into one or two sentence conversations. Character backstories are summed up in single facial expressions. And the dialogue of the world you're creating... well it's just used without context, definition, or explination.

All these things are fine, if you're dealing with an audience in which one can generally expect a great deal of knowledge on the subject matter going in. However, much is the same case with Harry Potter, that's not the norm. And for those like myself who didn't grow up caring about comic books, or superheroes for that matter, much is lost in a sea of names I can't understand, people who just seem to be doing things at random, and a hammer whose Arthurian 'sword in the stone' narrative seems to deliver a limitless power source to its holder.

These are the things I find frustrating about modern cinema in general, but if I don't want to get lost in a sea of 'looky looky,' I suppose it's time I start adapting. However, don't expect me to go easily. There are certain basic components I expect from a film, and in that regard Thor reaches the finish line by the narrowest of margins.

If nothing else, I'd say it's the 'cute factor' that saves Thor. Despite its PG-13 and occasional subtle adult humor, Thor is a relatively tame affair which embraces a childlike innocence of a comic book reader. The jokes are well timed, founded on over the top characters, and packed with plenty of charismatic talent to see it through to the end. The visuals are stunning, amped up by 3D - even if it is blatantly unnecessary - and full of color and life.

Breakthrough villain, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) finds an off-kilter balance between Commodus and The Joker, making him equal parts mysterious and creative, but ultimately lacking the villainy of the aforementioned. Sure, he gets up to a bit of 'mischief,' but for the most part his efforts are conventional and ill-conceived. Sort of how one would imagine an evil David Copperfield.

Chris Hemsworth utilizes charm, intensity, and dead on comedic timing in bringing our Titular superhero to life. By playing up the camp of the role he is involved in, we are allowed to buy into the camp of the surrounding story. A style fellow actors Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, the 'Warriors Three,' and the infallible Clark Gregg embrace in whole. Especially when you consider that the relationships built between them are founded almost entirely on non-verbal communication.

Anthony Hopkins knows how to command the screen, and is a dead ringer for Odin alongside Stellan Skarsgard, who just seems to exude fatherly experience with each vocalization. Leaving the rest in the capable, if not overtly theatrical, directing skills of Kenneth Branagh.

Thor does not reinvent the wheel, it just adds a polish, little bit of gold plating, and allows the viewer to get wrapped up in the continuous motion. And for those seeking out Thor for their viewing, that's most likely the full range of what they seek.

Film Credits:
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh
Written By: Ashley Miller,  Zack Stentz, and Don Payne
Based on the Comics By: Stan Lee, Jerry Lieber, and Jack Kirby 

10 better thoughts:

The Film Connoisseur said...

My review is similar to yours, I enjoyed many things about it except its jump from plot point to plot point so quickly. Loved the visuals and the effects, plus THOR looks exactly the way we'd expect him to, they really nailed the character.

The Mad Hatter said...

Hi, and welcome to Thor Review number 9,291 in your Google Feed Reader

...or more appropriately, welcome to the summer!

Wonder what's gonna be this summer's indie hit - its MOON, its ONCE, its WINTER'S BONE - and who within the community will get to see it first?

Lesya Khyzhnyak said...

So... you liked it but it has some issues. Right?

Castor said...

Odd that you found Loki to not be evil enough, much like Mad. I didn't have an issue with it as this is pretty much an origin story. I appreciated that we got to see why he becomes what he is about to become in subsequent movies.

Univarn said...

@FilmConn What do you mean jump from plot point to... Wow now I feel very humbled... Hey, is this love?... no it's time to kick ass!

@Mad That's part of the fun of the summer. What the other part happens to be usually eludes me. I've grown disenchanted with mindles entertainment.

@Lesya Yes, thanks for summing it up :)

@Castor I'm willing to buy this as an origin story, but these films are plagued with origin stories to nowhere. Sure they built him up, but those final twenty minutes or so he was an established villain who put a plan into action that was intended to entice us to champion the cause of our hero. However, his motives are still shakey at best, and his methodologies full of 'ok, whatever' buy-ins.

Lesya Khyzhnyak said...

LOL, I wasn't sure whether I understood it right! You make me afraid to comment under you posts.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I enjoyed it! Nothing deep, just a fun movie. And a great set-up for the Avengers movie, complete with Hawkeye 'cameo.'

Univarn said...

@Lesya Sorry, don't mean to make you afraid to comment on my posts. I can be a bit scatter brained which makes me hard to follow :)

@AlexJ The Hawkeye cameo was rubbish. Honestly, he did nothing, you could barely see him, and then vanishes never to be referenced or acknowledged ever again.

Dan O. said...

Part of what I wanted from the film was a guy in armor with a giant hammer smacking frost giants in the face...and so I got that. It was a good time at the theaters, and that's all I asked for. Good Review!

Fitz said...

My 2nd favorite Marvel adaptation.

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