26 April, 2011

THOR: One Thunderous god

So previews for Thor started last night in the UK, and how on earth could I NOT go?! Superheros and pre-release and supernatural awesomeness... oh my!

Firstly, there was a trailer for Captain America, and I've just been hanging onto that blog post. I was able to visit the set of Captain America in November, but I had to sign my life away and am sworn to secrecy until its released... sorry! But it was super exciting to see on the big screen, mostly to see some of the scenes that I saw being filmed but now with all of the finalizing and special effects added in. It looks amazing.

Right, so that was fun, but back to THOR! I had absolutely no preconceptions, which I'm starting to love when going into a superhero movie. I knew Branagh was directing (weird, right? From the otherwise classic Shakespearean-type actor), Natalie Portman was the girl, and Thor looked hot. Plus he was Chris Hemsworth, the guy from the beginning of Star Trek, and I'm a fan of that.

So initial reactions? It was bloody brilliant! I like the more fantastical/mythical elements of this story (grounded in Norse myth; Iron Man can't quite vouch the same saga-esque beginnings), and the parallels of the fantasy world with the known world-- i.e. a Portal Fantasy.  The film was fun, with great timing by the actors with comic jokes and good pacing from the script writers; the characters are well-developed and fun from the headstrong Thor to his goofy but loyal friends, and the tortured good/bad Loki; there were shiny costumes involving cloaks, ab-plates, and flannel, beautiful special effects (I loved the rainbow road, the traveling between worlds, the clouds, and the cosmos), and overall it was a fun, escapist but satisfying way to spend an evenint!

Favorite things:

Characters- Thor was bordering on hysterical genius when he was first stuck on Earth.  Bumbling through a hospital, smashing a coffee cup on the floor of a diner and demanding another (in true Viking style), and his slow but steady journey to worthy and good god/leader.

His buddies at the window when they arrive to help him cracked me up... Erik (Stellan Skarsgard) of course is the stereotypical casting choice for anything involving Norse/Viking backgrounds, but it works a treat and I loved him after he and Thor went drinking.  Classic. 

The Hammer- It would have been so easy to make that bit of wood and metal look cheap and cheesy, and it was awesome. I was reminded of Captain America's shield and I know the work that went into that, so I assume it was a similar process for the hammer. It rocked! Super badass, I loved that it had a loyalty to its owner and power in the hero's hand (similar to Sting, Excalibur, sword of Gryffindor, the million other mythical weapons), and when he whirled it around to make a cyclone-- kickin'. 

Set Design- the town in New Mexico was atmospheric, and realistic, but looked dressed enough that it allowed you to suspend some belief. The distressed signs were a little too quaint, the barber shops and cafes a little too designed so that you could believe it was an easy lead-in to a replica in an amusement park. Contrast to that was the stunning world of Asgard.  It was like Rivendell, but more blingin'. Lots of gold, silver, prismic glass and technological aspects that were more Star Wars than Middle Earth. It was hard to tell where the set ended and the CGI began, and that is a feat unto itself.

Storyline- I liked how so many elements were handled, how loose ends were tied up, but also how small elements were referred to and introduced that we know come from the Marvel universe and could lead into The Avengers.  There was a reference to Stark Enterprises weapons technology, Samuel L. Jackson appears, as does SHIELD and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) who we know will be in The Avengers

Music- I'm a sucker for a good score, and whilst I think some of the soundtrack choices are a bit off, the themes and background score from Patrick Doyle (HP: GOF, Eragon, Calendar Girls, etc.) were lovely.

Not so Favorite Things:

I have to say the only real negative I have is the women in the film.  Yes, one of his pals was a kickass woman, Sif (Jaimie Alexander), but she still had to wear a teeny miniskirt (lame) and played backup to the other four men in these scenes; and Natalie Portman was a genius astro physist-- great! Really, she's got brains, good, cool, nice... but then she goes gooey within ten seconds of seeing Thor, compromises herself for him, abandons self preservation and the potential future continuation of her work by taking him to the SHIELD-covered site where his hammer is located, and she continues to be a bit panicky, weepy, pathetic/in need of rescue. Blerg.... So close, Marvel, so close...

That's all I'm gonna say at this point. I've gotta see it again, and don't wait to give any spoilers before my friends can see it; they may kill me if I reveal too much.

In the meantime, Joss Whedon and co. are starting up with The Avengers now (oh, and by the way, make sure you stay through the credits at the end of Thor-- it's worth it), and that shall be the next major excitement/goal post for Superhero movies I think :) Win! 


Dyfrig said...

I was a bit non-plussed by it. It comes from not being a big fan of the character, I suppose. I like superheroes, and Thor works as part of a superhero team. But his individual stories are a bit too Fantasy (as in the genre) for my liking. The bits that were set on earth were good, but I was bored by the Asgardian sections, which took up too much of the film.

Julie said...

Thanks for the review, Maggs! After reading this I'm definitely going to see it (I was about 90% sure I was anyway). Have you read D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths? Wonderful stuff--all the imagery you describe (Asgard, etc.) is in there. Bummer on the women being not as strong characters--Norse myth is full of strong women!