Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thor

There has always been a difference between a film and a movie. A film makes you think, it makes you feel. It moves you (TO A BIGGER HOUSE!). A movie on the other hand distracts you. There are bells and whistles and explosions and average acting from the good guy and spectacular over acting from the bad guy and it tries to make you forget about life and instead enjoy the two hour ride for what it it is, a ride. This is England is a film. Robocop is a movie. So now that you understand my philosophy I hope you understand why I found the new Marvel studios release Thor to be amazing.

Thor was a movie I had low expectations for. It was based on a character that I was only vaguely familiar with. He always seemed to be a background character. He had no cartoon show in the nineties like X-Men or Iron Man. He had no republished three years later collected book editions like Fantastic Four or even Deadpool. My only real connection with him was as a supporting character in the dreadful 1988 Bill Bixby starring The Incredible Hulk Returns. On top of that Kenneth Branagh had stepped in to direct. I know Branagh is a good director. He's a top actor too if you ignore Wild Wild West. But he directs Shakespeare and lowish budget thrillers, not the God of thunder. But I guess they Bryan Singered us again because Branagh delivered in spades.

The film opens with a montage of Anthony Hopkins explaining how he defeated the Frost Giants years ago and then slides gently into modern day Asgard where Thor is about to be crowned the new king of Asgard. But theres skullduggery afoot as the Frost Giants are making moves on Asgard. They are stopped but Thor is pretty pissed off and leads a small expedition into the realm of the Frost Giants (which I'm not even going to try to spell.) where things promptly go from bad to worse until they are rescued by Odin. Odin, pissed off with Thor for disobeying his orders banishes him to Earth. Here things take a turn for the bizarre as he runs into a group of scientists who think hes mad. When SHIELD show up and start being dicks, Thor puts manners on them in a fun little scrap. Of note is the cameo from Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and possibly a Luke Cage cameo too. I'm not sure of that because he didn't really say anything very Luke Cagey like: 'Sweet Christmas! This honkey be crazy!" Luke Cage is kind of a stereotypical character. So he might just be some big black dude. One thing leads to another and shit blows up and I promise no spoilers this time. Now, I'm gonna get nerdy.

Holy shit, did you see Hawkeye in there? Aw yeah. Casting Jeremy Renner, who can only really do burned out combat junkies, as Hawkeye points to this guy being more in line with the Ultimate Hawkeye than his mainstream Marvel counterpart but thats okay because Ultimate Hawkeye is pretty badass. In Ultimates 2 he gets captured, tied to a chair, tortured, has his family murdered in front of him, pulls his own nails out while tied to said chair and flicks them at his captor with such force that they die. My summary of it was nowhere near as badass as it was in the comic. It was cool okay? Just trust me on that.

Another thing that was great in this flick was the use of 3D. When in Asgard it was in your face and a real feast for the eyes, rainbow bridges zipping around and nebulae in the distance and just stunning set design. When on earth then, it was subtle. Almost non existant. The background was very out of focus but that wasn't really too big a deal. This film is a real feast for the eyes and it captures the strange science fiction and fantastical elements of the Kirby Asgard the I wasn't sure they'd get right. But they did. Big style. All of the effects were great from the Destroyer rampaging through New Mexico, prompting one of the SHIELD agents to ask 'is that one of Starks?' (Continuity!) to the bit where Thor and chums battle the Frost Giants. It really shows the potential of 3D. Something that has been ignored in dozens of films like Clash of the Titans where the 3D actually kind wrecks the film.

My only real complaint about the film is the pointless love interest played with all the flash and sizzle of a Transit van by Natalie Portman. After Iron Man, a friend said to me that he was pissed off with Paltrows character of Pepper Potts. He said that there was no pont in having all these love interests for characters who just don't really need them. A love interest for Tony Stark, womanising playboy is just pointless. A love interest for a God is equally daft. Even if Natalie Portman is super attractive and a badass bitch, its just daft, especially when Stellan Skarsgard as Dr Selvig makes more of an impression on Thor and the audience by going out for a pint with him than Portmans astrophysicist in any of the daft shit she does. It leads to another great line where Thor,drunk, carries the drunker mortal home telling Portman 'We drank, we fought, he made his ancestors proud.' i really wanna see some deleted scenes for that.

Going back to what I said above Thor is not a film masquerading as a movie, like the Dark Knight. Its also not a movie pretending to be a film, like the Godfather.(There I said it!) Its a movie. A straight up movie that has an unoriginal plot(its King Lear with special effects) and some dry performances(Natalie Portman.) but it has tremendous pacing, effects and a baddy that chews scenery like no tomorrow. It will make you forget about your pointless existence for two hours and you'll have a laugh doing it. This is another Summer of the super heroes with Captain America, Dylan Dog, Priest and Green Lantern still to come nerds are gonna have a good summer.

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