A Review: THOR
I've been meaning to write a review of THOR. Now that I've seen it twice, I thought I'd share some thoughts. Since the Walt Disney Company now owns Marvel Comics, it seems appropriate to offer my review of the film here on my Disney fan blog. While The Avengers will be the first film to be fully distributed by Disney, Marvel properties have now become entrenched into the Disney universe.
Admittedly, I am more of a DC Comics fan and have always argued that the DC properties, with their iconic superheroes, seem like a better match for Disney. But, there are some Marvel heroes that I have always followed. Thor is one of them. I've read the comics on-and-off since I was a child and enjoyed them not only because Thor was a superhero, but because he came from mythology. I've always been a mythology and folk tale nut and always thought it neat how they incorporated Norse mythology into the book.
I was initially apprehensive going in to watch THOR because one review I read of the movie said that the movie made Thor an alien from another planet rather than a god. Thankfully, this proved not to be the case. Thor does come from Asgard, one of the nine realms we've come to learn in Norse mythology. But, the Asgardians don't necessarily regard themselves as gods, but as powerful entities from a land where magic and science is one in the same and who have come to be known as gods to those of us in the Midgard (Earth) realm.
The film starts off with a group of scientists chasing down a wormhole that has just opened up over the New Mexico desert. As they enter the middle of the dust storm that has gathered as a result of the wormhole, they hit a large individual. Who is he? How did he get there?
We are then whisked off to Asgard where we find out the who and why. We learn of a war between the Frost Giants of Jotunheim and Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and the Warriors of Asgard. In the end, a shaky truce is forged between the two realms until, at the coronation of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), three Frost Giants invade and try to steal a weapon taken during the war. Thor demands to know how and why these Frost Giants invaded and seeks to attack Jotunheim. But, Odin forbids this, choosing to continue honoring the truce between realms. Thor, however, goes behind Odin's back and travels to Jotunheim where he ignites the war once more. Odin, furious with Thor's arrogance, realizes that Thor is not ready to be king and casts him out of Asgard. But, before this, he strips Thor of his powers and his ability to wield his favored weapon, the hammer Mjolnir, until he is deemed worthy.
We are then whisked back to the events of the beginning of the film where it is now answered that the powerless Thor exiled to Midgard is the one the scientists hit. Thor, out of place in our realm, tries to find a way back home and how to get Mjolnir back. He forges a friendship with the scientists, especially the chief scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who aid each other in their quests. But, it seems that Thor's jealous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) scheming might make things difficult for our hero.
At first, I thought that Kenneth Branagh was a strange choice for this film. Don't get me wrong, I love Branagh, but, I didn't peg him for a person who would get a superhero property. I mean, I love Ang Lee, but, I honestly think his Hulk is perhaps one of the worst movies I've seen. But, I now realize that he was the perfect choice. Branagh has both the experience to pull off the Shakespearean drama going on in Asgard and the comedic fish out of water moments of Thor exiled on Midgard. And, at the same time, he managed to deliver wonderful action moments throughout.
There were lots of beautiful shots that made me feel I was watching a living comic book. Ang Lee, when he did the Hulk, went for a very literal comic book feel. But, in the end, it just felt like he was parodying the genre. In THOR, Branagh manages to capture the feel of a comic book through dramatic and iconic shots.
While Natalie Portman and the other scientists (Stellan Skarsgård and Kat Dennings) are fantastic, the Asgardians are the true stars. Chris Hemsworth for me IS THOR in the way that Christopher Reeve IS Superman, Lynda Carter IS Wonder Woman and Hugh Jackman IS Wolverine. Hemsworth is perfect as the god of thunder. He manages to pull off both the dramatic and comedic moments very well. His journey from arrogance to humility is very believable. Hemsworth is perfect.
Tom Hiddelston does an amazing job as Loki. It would have been easy for him to just play the character in a sinister way. But, you really get the fact that this character is torn between the intense jealousy he has for the relationship between his brother and father and the intense want for acceptance.
Anthony Hopkins as Odin is wonderful as the ruler of the Asgardians. Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, and Joshua Dallas as the Warriors Three Volstagg, Hogun and Fandral respectively and Jaimie Alexander as Sif are living incarnations of the characters.
I have to give Idris Elba as the all-seeing Heimdall extreme props. I've talked about Chris Hemsworth truly being Thor, well Idris Elba IS Heimdall. His portrayal of this character was exactly the way I envision this character in the comic book - stoic in personality, but loyal to the very end.
My only complaint in the film is that I wish they'd just let the film stand on its own without the constant reference to the upcoming The Avengers film. I get it. Thor is going to be part of The Avengers. The parts involving SHIELD, the group pulling the Avengers together, often seemed awkward. But, at the same time, I felt that there was enough of the storyline that SHIELD didn't end up bogging the film down as I felt it did more in Iron Man 2.
But, other than that, THOR, I think, has become one of my favorite superhero movies.