Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thor Review

So I’m watching "Thor" and, as you know from the end of the Iron Man II, Mjolnir is stuck in a crater in a desert in New Mexico. When we first see it there in the Thor movie, a man gets out of a beat-up pickup truck, climbs down into the crater, and, seemingly bemused by this odd object in the ground, tries to pull it out.

And I’m thinking, “Huh, that looks like JMS.” And while I have no idea if that was him or not, I wasn’t surprised to see Straczynski has a story credit on this flick.

Combine JMS with Branagh and you get “operatic.” I swear, I kept waiting for someone to break into an aria. The motivations are bigger than life, and just as murky. The gestures are grand. And the plots are twisty, complex things. During the movie, you’re thinking, “Wow, how many moves is Loki thinking ahead on this?” After the movie, at the fridge, you’ll be thinking, “Oh, wait, how many moves was Odin thinking ahead on this?” Loki is clearly Odin’s son, perhaps even more than Thor is.

The scenery and costumes fit. Huge, soaring, grand, and over-the-top. No winged helmet, thank the gods, but Loki is sporting his wild, sweeping horns before the end. Natalie Portman proves her acting chops when she calls the Thor costume “a good look” and you almost believe she means it.

It’s all insane, wild, over-the-top… and it works. If you’ve enjoyed the other Marvel flicks, you’ll enjoy this one, maybe even more. Its visions of the land of the gods and the land of the frost giants are wonderfully baroque. And then they manage to make it not look utterly ridiculous when it shows up on the streets of rural New Mexico, maybe by pointing out just how ridiculous it is.

And that’s part of the fun. One minute it’s all realms and kings and the sacred oaths of warriors, and the next its slapstick humor, mostly at Thor’s expense. It’s an amazing combination, the juxtaposition both humanizing the God of Thunder and keeping the film from being too grandiose. The film needed to be about 15 minutes longer (Loki’s motivations needed more teasing out, I think, and we needed the SHIELD folks to more actively earn Thor’s respect) and we don’t get nearly enough of the Warriors Three Plus One. Still, things are nicely lining up for The Avengers. Captain America is looking better by the day, and to see these characters all brought together for a massive crossover movie, well… If they can pull off another flick at this level of quality, it should be a barnstormer.

5 comments:

Erin Palette said...

Having met the man in person, I can attest that the first townie is indeed Straczynski. Not knowing he was one of the writers of the film my first impression was, "Holy crap, what is JMS doing in this film?"

The first time we see adult Thor he is indeed wearing his winged helmet. It looks less dumb than his comic book version, and I regret it didn't appear again at the end of the film.

I was SHOCKED at how the costume designers managed to not only have Loki's horns NOT look ridiculous, but also pretty badass.

Also, you should read my capsule review of the film is an Isaiah Mustafa voice.

Von said...

Thor wasn't the fiddly, showing-off-how-clever-we-are sort of film I usually favour but it had a lot more resonance and style than I was expecting; it's grand and simple and just very competent. That said, while I was very taken with the mortal cast, I'd have enjoyed a whole film's worth of the Warriors Three and the Gods Three adventuring and kicking buttock across the planes of existence.

Anonymous said...

Nice review, and I agree. It was another good one from Marvel. I was surprised how good.

Havard: said...

Great review! I agree with your assessments. I failed to recognize JMS, so thanks for pointing that one out!

Carl said...

Just watched this last night, and I went into it with low expectations having heard some bad scuttlebutt. I was pleasantly surprised.

I am less fond of how the land of the frost giants and Valhalla were depicted (they just didn't seem REAL enough for me, somehow - a strange criticism for a realm beyond mortal comprehension, I guess).

I found myself really enjoying the moments that took place on earth, even if I never really bought why Thor got so attached to Natalie Portman that it was some kind of torturous soul-wrenching decision to sever the bifrost bridge.

All in all, a very enjoyable movie and I am excited to see the next installment in this series of cross-overs.