Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Stop, Hammer Time.

Building on the apparent market available for comic-book heroes, Thor proves itself to be up there with the greats.

Thor, heir to the throne of Asgard, is banished to Earth after getting a little cocky and trying to commit genocide. After meeting Natalie Portman and her team of useless and unnecessary scientists who are conveniently in the middle of the desert where he appears, he slowly, and often comically, adjusts to life on Earth. Meanwhile, his brother Loki, after learning a life-changing secret, goes a little loopy and overthrows his father for the throne, sending a giant robot to kill Thor on Earth, who is powerless to stop it without the use of his magic hammer...

Sound confusing/ridiculous/brilliant? (delete as appropriate) It should. And it is.

I was a little puzzled at first as to why Kenneth Brannagh, renouned more for his Shakespearean theatre work than summer blockbuster skills, was directing, but I have to say he did a surprisingly good job. The cinematography and special effects are brilliant, and I can see why it would be appealing to see this in 3D, but to be honest, it was just as good in 2D. You find yourself lost in the mythical world of the gods and wanting to move there just for their awesome Rainbow Bridge, guarded by the sinister Idris Elba, one of the most likeable characters in the film.

The most interesting part of the film are the scenes set in Asgard and Jotunheim. Compare Earth to the stunning CGI, and it looks incredibly drab, especially as the Earth-setting is a town which essentially has three buildings and residents who are all rednecks or S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Sif and the Warriors Three provide a little extra humour in the serious moments in Asgard, making a suitable posse for Thor, and they are characters I would want to see developed in any sequels. The scene where they walk down the street in their warrior gear to confused onlookers is one of the funniest moments in the film.

Chris Hemsworth proves, after a memorable turn as George Kirk in 2009's Star Trek, that he is leading-man material, and the prospect of him in the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman is appealing. He plays pretty much every emotion in the film, from besotted to mourning, very convincingly, with some hilarious moments as Thor adjusts to life on Earth after his banishment. The action sequences are amazing.

For me, my favourite part of the whole film was Tom Hiddleston's Loki. He is one of the few villains I have seen who I end up wanting to win over the hero, and I genuinely feel so sorry for him. He has an intense vulnerability about him, and having lived in the shadow of his pompous and arrogant brother his whole life, I think he's fully deserving to be a little wrathful towards him. And really, his only threats are killing his father, who quite frankly deserves it, and Thor, who can handle himself anyway. Make up your own minds, but he, in my opinion, is the best character in the film; they should just make a film about him, and I would be so happy.

The problem I found with the film was that there was not enough character development in regards to the humans. Natalie Portman's Jane's only purpose appeared to just be a chauffeur/love interest with a ridiculous job which I still can't work out. There was no chemistry between her and Hemsworth, and it seemed like they were only interested in each other romantically because the other was a novelty. Kat Denning's other-girl-whose-name-I-can't-remember-but-that-doesn't-really-matter seemed to only be there to point out the very obvious fact that Chris Hemsworth is not bad to look at, and to Taser him. Her attempts at comedy failed spectacularly to the point where it wasn't even so-bad-it's-funny, but just cringey. And the only benefit of Stellan Skarsgard's professor was to get drunk with the titular character and then appear in a scene related to the upcoming Avengers film that the studio cleverly decided to place post-credits so that you will miss it if you don't know it's there. I did, and I'm still quite resentful about it. To be quite honest, if the humans weren't needed for plot development, they wouldn't have been missed. They didn't bring anything to the film of any worth. Harsh, yes, but true.

One thing that annoys me about the promotion is the way they are hyping up Anthony Hopkins' role. Yes, he is a brilliant and highly respected actor, but why he appears on all the posters and not Loki, the main antagonist, is beyond me. All he seems to do is reminise about a fight that happened thousands of years ago and then sleep for the rest of the film. He does manage to pull of that gold eyepatch though. If you ever need one, that's the way to go - disabled bling.

I don't usually say this about films, but it just didn't seem long enough. They could easily have had an extra twenty minutes in which they could have developed the humans a little more, or added in some extra Loki, both of which would have improved the film to a certain extent.

Overall though, the film brings in some brilliant action, special effects and great acting from the characters who matter. This is not by any means a superhero movie to be compared to the likes of more serious franchises (read: Batman), but of course it won't be - for one thing, it doesn't have Chris Nolan involved. But I quite like that. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and is enjoyable fun, lighter than Batman but not as fluffy as, say, Fantastic Four. I'd put it on a par with Iron Man in comparison for other superhero films, which isn't a bad thing at all. If you are planning on seeing the Avengers film next year, this is a must see.

Verdict: A couple of hours of enjoyable fun. The special effects and Loki are reason enough to go and see it, and definitely a must-see for anyone planning on catching the Avengers film.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHBnrJowBZE


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