Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thor, the Movie

Marvel finally got around to committing Thor to the silver screen. I guess I saw an ad recently, and it seemed attractive. Not to sound overly eager. Erin and I saw the matinee today.

Robin Hood may have been the last cinema feature that I saw, and I recall the dreary lineup of trailers. This time the upcoming goods seem at least palatable, given that I don’t want to see anything too heartwarming or sensitive. So my highly superficial run down of summer blockbusters consists of the following:

  • Cowboys and Aliens. A finely tuned blend of cowboys and aliens. See, there’s cowboys, and there are aliens. Together! Somehow the particular flash and rumble of this trailer kinda drew me in. That does not mean I would vote for Sarah Palin. Daniel Craig (or whatever the latest James Bond actor is called), looking really rawboned, stars, and Harrison Ford.
  • Captain America. I never really liked Captain A. I think the original, during WW2, was well outside my taste range. He carried a gun then, and this evocation does, as well. I suppose Captain America really was the product of eugenics in htge early comic, but placing him in contradistinction to Nazi eugenics does not work. That’s knucklehead talking. Or in other words, fitting tea party philosophy.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean 4, the Death Knell. I HATE THIS CRAP. Number 2 was bad, number 3 angered me, and this, it seems, is the vital concoction of Hollywood as hell. Now we have Blackbeard in the role of Depp’s ghost pirate plaything. Blackbeard, the guy who tied lit fuses into his beard when he went into battle: he needs application of this sort of hokum? This has got to stop! Orlando, Keira, and the other familiar faces have been denied star access to this trek into merchandizing, presumably because they are charting further routes to the pot of gold.

So Thor. I rather liked the comic, in the day, but mainly because I’ve always found Norse mythology appealing. From what I can tell, the writers have eschewed most of the comic’s talking points. I believe they learned their mythology from some computer game, but my expertise does not extend to knowing which one.

The story begins in left field, with some scientists studying some local astrological (rewriting note: folks, I really did type astrological when I meant astronomical) wonders. The scientists consist of an older man, a younger woman, who I eventually recognized as Natalie Portman, and a research student. We learn later that the research student is a snarky poli sci student who was the only one to volunteer for service. Some funny back and forth occurs between the three, with the student prime with rolling eyes and youthful ennui. And then their vehicle runs into someone…

Flashback. Hey, we’re in Asgard, learning about the battle between the Norse gods and the Frost Giants. Anthony Hopkins overplays Odin some. It is called acting. Thor and his brother Loki are seen as children, then as adults. Just before Thor is made King of the Gods, or whatever, the Frost Giants attack. They are thwarted but Thor in headstrong mode heads off with his handful of friends to kick Frost Giant ass. Here’s a big weakness.

Thor’s merry band are perfectly boring and undefined. They do not look convincing as warriors whatsoever. There’s a ridiculous battle that substitutes blur for action.  I guess I neglected to mench that we saw the 3d version. More on the wonders of 3d later.

Odin shows up to save the band. He banishes Thor to Earth because of Thor’s impetuosity. Banishment from Asgard is no different from travel in a Star Gate, it so happens. Thor lands on Earth in time to get struck by the scientists’ vehicle. So we get some stranger in a strange land stuff.

The four of them are funny together. Thor, who played Captain Kirk’s da in STrek, is a big hunk of manly yum. Portman spends much of the movie in a fluttery drool. Thor’s hammer lands on Earth, which intrigues A Government Agency. Oh yes, that plotline.

From there, trust me, Loki overacts while betraying his sibling (turns out he’s a Frost Giant whelp, oh oh, no spoiler alert). The Boring Band show up ineffectually, Thor gets cured of hubris, and…

Visually, the movie was a shriek. It was directed by Kenneth Branagh, who blithered Frankenstein into some histrionic mélange of excited numbness. People seem to take him seriously, and I do not get that.

There were some mindlessly wonderful shots of Asgard, kinda trippy, kinda scifi. There was scale, flash, and bang.

The 3d is simply a pox. I will give props to Avatar, otherwise a piece of flattened crap, insofar as the environment felt more convincing than in Thor. Too much of Thor’s effect flouted focus. It seemed like Branagh blew opportunities to rev up the wow factor that 3d allows. And I got to say, the movie made my eyes see funny.

In the end, Loki gets ‘killed’ and whatever. The comic, with Thor switching between being a god and a doctor with a limp, had a nice bit that the movie ignored. Oh well. I got a phone call and missed the lead in to the next episode, but Erin was revved enough to have some excitement for it. Frankly, if someone made a movie of the myth rather than the comic, I’d get a thrill.