Thor: More Fun Than Expected
It may shock and appall many to know that I am not a raving fanatic of the God of Thunder. Not because of anything HE did, but because I only have a limited amount of time to spend on superheroes and the X-Men usually dominate that realm (Thor reference!). Sooo – for a comic book fan of my tastes, what is there to love in a Thor flick?
How about almost everything? As “Iron Man” before it, “Thor” provided lots of fun. And in a comic book movie adaptation especially with content as light and fluffy as “Thor”, what more could you expect?
The special effects were well done, the action sequences spot-on for this type of hero. I hadn’t especially noted it, but Dan was quick to mention how the film had dispensed with the ubiquitous wire/John Woo/Matrix fighting scenes for punching, kicking and a good old-fashioned wrestle in the mud. Which is totes appropriate for a Viking. Good job fight choreographer. Your efforts were duly noted by the general public!
The cast exceeded my expectations having only glimpsed Chris Hemsworth in the Star Trek film (in arguably the most memorable/traumatic opening sequence to grace the screen in a while), wasn’t sure what he would have to offer up as this larger than life character. He managed it quite well and showed a pretty adept comedic timing. As did the always lovable Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgaard. And to some degree Natalie Portman. I’m still not convinced I like her in comedies. But she can hold her own with this cast. And she won an Oscar, so I guess that means automatic pass. She did have loads of chemistry with Hemsworth but unfortunately I never quite bought their relationship. Which wasn’t their fault – but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Maybe it’s just my baby hungry brain, but was anyone else speculating about whether or not she was pregnant during the filming of this movie? It’s post “Black Swan.” Just saying.
As for the Asgaardians – Anthony Hopkins was stellar as old Odin One Eye. He growled, howled and menaced as is appropriate to the All-Father. Renee Russo was his lovely wife Frigga. Blink and you probably missed her. Pretty sure she had one line and a weak-ass battle with an Ice Giant. Pretty lame for the All-Mother. Tom Hiddleston was a much more subdued Loki than I anticipated, especially after having encountered him in the Marvel Ultimate Alliance video game series. And part of me was secretly hoping they would cast him as a female. Lady Loki was smokin’ hot!
Even without all the showy aspects of Loki on display, Hiddleston’s performance was probably the most emotionally adept of anyone in this story. Thor is kind of a d-bag for most of it (but that’s his arch) and you JUST KNOW he’s never going to lose, so the tragedy really falls to Loki and I couldn’t help but sympathize with him.
RACE AND GENDER
The whole Ice Giants thing – I don’t know about you but there was this weird race thing happening there that I’m not sure about. It was pretty surface, so I don’t think there’s much more analyzing to do. The ice giants were people of color being slaughtered by the mostly white Asgaardians (save the sexy and a bit scary Heimdall played by Idris Elba and the asian dude who had one line). If the Skrulls ever make it to the screen, I have a feeling there will be a similar reaction as well.
Not sure what Marvel can do to dig themselves out of that one or avoid the comparisons. They’ve got over 60 years of comic book history (plus loads of Viking and Norse myths) working against them. They’re just gonna have to play this one out until the end. Plus, if anyone has watched LOTR or enjoyed Game of Thrones or even Avatar – it’s the same deal. It’s there, it’s square…get used to it? I dunno.
The ladies got a fair shake in this film, as far as I’m concerned. Portman spent most of the film drooling over Thor (but who didn’t? Did I mention the mud wrestling scene? Or how about when he was topless?) but held some street cred as a plucky scientist willing to risk life and limb to learn more about Thor’s magic/science.
I kinda loved that the Bifrost is basically a giant rainbow-colored transporter. Did anyone else think of Mario Kart whenever they were walking on the Rainbow Bridge? Man I HATED that level.
Kat Dennings scored major points with being the humorous sidekick. Sif (Jaimie Alexander) was equally/nicely represented as well and it was clear they were making a big show of putting her out front and making her just as bad-ass. It rode a fine-line between “exceptionalism” and lady power…so I’ll take it. This might, MIGHT have been helped by the fact that the lead screenplay writer listed on IMDB is a chick – Ashley Miller. THANK YOU ASHLEY MILLER. Who also had a crack at the X-Men First Class script, as well as Fringe and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Can we just agree that she’s a pretty awesome writer? Ashley – you did the ladies proud and you managed to write in a few delicious scenes of Hemsworth topless and/or wet.
What more could you ask for in a comic book movie adaptation? I mean, REALLY?
NOT SO GOOD
This film suffered somewhat in the coherence department. The transitions between Earth (Midgaard, which I kinda like as a title better, can we work on getting that changed?) and Asgaard were not exactly seamless and this threw the pacing and Thor’s arch completely off-balance. Dan (the DH) pointed out that they were cramming “three movies into one” but there should have still been at least some emotional resonance with Thor’s personal discovery. Which was exactly what again? “Iron Man” worked because you SAW the change in Stark. It was a…stark contrast (sorry, I had to) from his war-mongering to world-saving peace-lover.
Thor – he never REALLY stopped fighting. Was it because of the girl? Because they chatted on the roof for an hour or so? I didn’t read that from the film at all – so the hollowness that only allowed this movie to be fun, funny and nice to look at it lies with the inability of the script, director or editor to create an emotional climax for Thor. Which is a pity. Loki really carried all the weight, and that’s why in the end, I was sort of rooting for him.
And what was with the terrible costuming of Thor’s merry band of Asgaardian heroes? As one friend described it: they looked as if they wandered off the San Diego Comic Con exhibition room floor. They were painfully inappropriate on Earth, but in a comedic way which didn’t exactly lend the film itself the credibility the characters and storyline deserved. Not to mention these characters were fastly under-used and in a sense, somewhat silly themselves. Dan described the Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) character as being the idiot cousin of Gimley from LOTR. *sigh* I REALLY LIKE Ray Stevenson. When is this dude going to get a break and/or a role as decent as the character he played in Rome?
My gut reaction to this film is “oooh, pretty.” Nice attractive men to look at, the laughs were evenly spaced out and fantasy elements were done attractively. Overall a solid entry in the continually successful Marvel film franchise. Did it work as well as Iron Man or even The Incredible Hulk? Not so much. Does it matter? Not really. It would have been nice if the film-makers could have taken the content a little more seriously, but there was enough balance that even the parts that twinged a nerve were somehow acceptable by the end.
DID I MENTION that Chris Hemsworth took his shirt off for like 3 minutes AND wrestled in the mud? If that isn’t a little bit of fetishization, I don’t know what is. Strangely the internets are silent on the over-sexualization of this superhero. Hhhmmm.
Bechdel Test: “Thor” features more than two female characters with names and DOES PASS the women test, DOES PASS the men test and features more than two minority characters who have names (but do not speak to one another) so it DOES NOT PASS the race test.