Ror Reviews: Thor
Is Kenneth Branagh's Thor as good as the other reviews suggest? Or is it all flash no substance? Click for my take.
Thor might well be the most anticipated movie we have covered here on CBM. Before that it was probably Marvel Studios previous effort Iron Man 2. The fan fervor rose so high with that one that when it turned out to be a little disappointing many(and many still do) refused to accept that it wasn't up to scratch. Well, I'm very pleased to report that Thor IS. But, it is not without it's problems. What movie is after all?
After a quick opening sequence on Earth, we are plunged straight into Asgard for an introduction to the surrounding realms, the mythology, and of course Thor himself along with his family and friends. Thor, in arrogant git mode, disobeys his father Odin and sets a catastrophic chain of events in motion leading his people to potential war with the Frost Giants. This is all fantastic stuff. For me these 30 odd minutes in Asgard are by far the highlight of the movie. The battle scenes, special effects and characters are all immediately exiting and engaging. So when the story inevitably shifts to Earth there is a bit of a lull. But only briefly. What we then get is a few great fish out of water scenes with Thor. You have seen elements of these in the trailer but there are more laugh out loud moments which I won't spoil. Mercifully, the comedy works. This was one of the major concerns I had when I saw some of the clips. Then of course it's back into the action, as Thor's jealous brother Loki seeks to ensure that the God Of Thunder stays banished. It's fast paced, maybe too fast paced. A few more scenes to flesh out the characters and their relationships before the final battle would have been nice. And as a result the ending is a bit disappointing, but more on that later. Of course, Thor is yet another stepping stone for Marvel to bring us The Avengers, and there are a few moments to keep us fanboys salivating. The much talked about cameo from Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye works well, and I look forward to seeing what he will bring to the team. We also have the always awesome Clark Gregg returning as Agent Coulson and that all important after credits scene. If you haven't seen it(a bootleg of the scene is doing the rounds), don't. I'm glad I waited.
On to the performances. I'm very happy to say that I was wrong about Chris Hemsworth. For whatever reason, I really didn't think too much of him in the clips and trailers we saw. He seemed a little wooden and unconvincing. Well, he's not! Maybe it was because the scenes were taken out of context, I don't know. All I know is that the man owns the role of Thor. He makes the transition from arrogant war monger to thoughtful hero expertly(even if the script calls for this transition to happen a little too quickly) and carries the weight of the entire movie on his broad shoulders with aplomb. He is amply supported by Anthony Hopkins as Odin, reigning it in for once! Another highlight is Stellan Skarsgård as Dr Selvig. He has a slightly larger role than I was expecting and his scenes with Hemsworth are excellent. Kat Dennings' character Darcy is utterly pointless, but not as annoying as I had feared. Idris Elba makes an awesome Heimdal. I really wanted to see more of him in action. The real surprise is how unremarkable Natalie Portman is. We all know that this girl can act her socks off, and it isn't exactly a meaty role but I found her pretty flat and unconvincing is almost every scene. Not outright BAD, she does enough for the romance between her Jane Foster and Thor to work, but I really was expecting better. Then there is Tom Hiddleston as Loki, for the most part, he's very good. I felt that at the end, when Loki goes full boo hiss throttle that he becomes a little too cheesy bad guy, whereas before Loki was layered, even sympathetic. Not Hiddleston's fault perhaps, as I alluded to earlier ending feels rushed on many levels. It's so often the case with these big budget flicks that they seem so eager to wrap everything up without allowing enough screen time to do so. It's not an awful ending, but given the quality of what went before it I felt it was disappointing.
This brings me onto the stuff that didn't work so well. It's funny, I enjoyed Thor so much that I almost don't want to get into what I didn't like but it has to be done. Thor was never going to be as particularly weighty or layered but sometimes it feels a bit too light hearted. There is never really anything at stake, no sense of danger. Of course part of this is because we all know that they aren't going to kill anyone off! It's not like they can go against years of comic continuity and have one of The Warrior's Three buy the farm, and even if they did they would just need to pay a visit to "The Healing Room". This type of thing seriously lessens the emotional impact that the movie can have. But, credit to Kenneth Branagh, he does wring as much drama from the story as he is allowed. And a few clunky moments aside the script is a strong one.
In summing up, Thor is a blast. It's one of the most entertaining movies I have seen in quite a while. Action packed, exciting, well acted, funny, at times silly, a little cheesy. But I'm not sure what else anyone could expect from a movie based on this character. Kenneth Branagh has done a magnificent job of brining one of the most difficult to adapt characters in comics to the screen. And Marvel deserve every credit for delivering one of their best so far(I would put it only just behind Iron Man). A few gripes aside, a roaring triumph. Thor has put the rest of our upcoming CBMs on notice.
P.S, I realized I left out the 3D! It was great, no real complaints. A few of the action scenes at the beginning were a bit blurry but otherwise I got as immersed in the world as I had with Avatar. It's not THAT good, but good enough.
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