Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ten Statements About....THOR (2011)

"I am The Hurdy Gurdy Man...and I bring songs of KICKING
"Describe exactly what happened to you last night."
"Your ancestors called it magic...but you call it science.  I come from a land where they are one and the same."

1) Here is why Chris Hemsworth was necessary to play the lead character in this film...he is able to accurately portray both the headstrong, hotheaded braggart and the more mature, capable man he becomes--and, more importantly, is able to transition between the two seamlessly so that Thor's character arc feels organic.

2) That being said--my favorite performance without a doubt is Tom Hiddleston's Loki. Hiddleston manages to create a very subtle God of Mischief, his voice so reasonable when he pushes those around him into doing what he wants. Plus, he manages to sell the very complex motivations behind this version of Loki extremely well.

3) While I recognize that this version of Asgard is the movieverse version and has to have a shade of 'The Realistic,' I generally approve of the design of the place. I also approve of how there are select characters--especially Josh Dallas' Fandral--who look like they were ripped right out of the comic.

4) There's a definitive sense that Kenneth Branaugh's Asgard is a Warrior Culture first and foremost. Hell, even Rene Russo's Frigga's first impulse upon seeing an approaching Frost Giant is to grab a sword and take a swing.

"It's the hammer, isn't it?  Chicks did the hammer..."
5) I do like Natalie Portman's Jane (as well as Kat Dennings' Darcy) a lot--this is the year of Portman having fun, apparantly--even though I wish they hadn't made her an astrophysicist. Yes, it makes keeping her and Stellan Skarsgaard's mentor character Eric around for The Avengers much easier, but it sort of breaks the whole contrast of Thor The Warrior with Jane The Caregiver the comics had.

6) That being said...I dunno, I think I prefer Jaimie Alexander's vital, game-for-whatever (and smoking hot) Sif to Jane, who comes off in this film as a touch neurotic and flighty at times.

I admit...I wanna party with these guys...
7) Those who compained about all the connective tissue in Iron Man 2 should be very pleased with the way it's handled here. It seems Branaugh learned from Favreau's mistakes, as the little throwaway lines about Stark and Banner work without stopping the film. And my favorite bit of connective tissue--the surprise appearance of Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye in a key cameo--was slipped in so logical and unobtrusively that it barely made a dent in the film's running time.

8) The product placement, however...YE GODS is it slathered all over this film. There's so many moments where the eye is drawn to Burger King cups or a 7-11 awning it made me actively not want to patronize any of the companies making the film its advertising bitch.

9) I continue to contend that Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson is the Coolest Character in the Marvel Movieverse. I'm amazed at how, after three films, Gregg has never once broken character, has always been scarily consistent and seems totally unfazed by all that goes on around him that I look forward to seeing him in every one of these films. And the way he doesn't get in Thor's face when the Asgardian does his 'look, I'm on your side, and I promise you I'll always be--just give my wubbie her stuff back', but just gets things done is wonderful.

10) I love how the Marvel Studios overarc between these films has trained the audience to stay put during the one moved through all those tiny little lines, and were treated to a number of little gifts--not only the 'here's the stinger to set up the next movie with Sam Jackson', but the thanks to Walt Simonson, Louise Simonson, John Buscema and so many other great people who contributed to the Thor mythos and a James Bondian 'Thor Will Return' credit...

In short...this is another great Marvel film, which proves that the policy of 'find the right director, then get out of his way' continues to work extremely well.

I went back to the Atlas and used the last of the gift cards my mom gave me for Christmas...which means suffering through the Regal Firstlook. At least it featured the extended ComicCon trailer for Green Lantern, which actually got me a little excited by the film--as opposed to the awful, limp version that's still playing in theaters (I have to say--the ComicCon trailer gives me a much greater sense of what Blake Lively is bringing to the table as Carol Ferris, and I really see why she was cast now). Other trailers included a kick-ass one for Captain America: The First Avenger, one for the next Luc Besson produced cheapo action thrill ride, the Pierre Morrel-less Columbiana (It looks awfully promising, even if it seems to want to continue the trend of forcing Zoe Saldana down our throats), and--my favorite of the lot--the looks-to-be-too-insane-to-be-true return of Tarsem to genre filmmaking, the 300-meets-Clash-of-the-Titans mash up Immortals...which can't come out too soon for my tastes.

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