on May 8, 2011
Thor is Marvel's best superhero movie yet. It is even better than the first Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk films. It is also the most visually stunning of any Marvel film, with gorgeous fantasy settings, great costumes, and spectacular special effects.
In the same way as Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight worked just as well as a crime drama as a superhero movie, Thor works just as well as a standalone fantasy film. Even if I had not known that I was watching a comic book movie, I would have been just as happy with the story. In fact, I would say that you don't actually need to be familiar with the characters or the comic mythology to enjoy the film.
The story is set half in Asgard, the realm of the gods, and half in our world, Earth. Thor, the son of the king of Asgard, the wise Odin, is a proud and arrogant king-in-waiting. He makes a foolish mistake that brings his world to the brink of war and his father exiles him to our world as punishment, and maybe to teach him how to be a better man. On Earth, Thor makes some new friends and even begins to fall in love with a pretty scientist. Meanwhile, in Asgard, his brother Loki begins to put into motion a plot that may threaten Thor's home.
Two things about the film really stood out to me. The first is the absolutely beautiful settings and solid world-building in the movie. Asgard looks amazing, with settings such as the Rainbow Bridge, a crystal structure with colored lights running through it, spanning a sea that flows into a massive waterfall, cascading down into the open cosmos. Also, great costuming really makes the gods stand out, and adds to the film's epic feel. The second thing was the character of Loki, the film's antagonist. Watching the trailers, I expected a greasy, honorless villain (someone like Wormtongue from the Lord of the Rings). Instead I got the story of a hero, told in reverse. Loki's story mirrors his brother Thor's, but where Thor starts out as an arrogant royal brat and through his time on Earth comes to realize what it means to be a hero, Loki begins the story as a mischievous but honorable man, and over the course of the film turns into a really bad guy. As Thor rises, he falls. And when his final plan is revealed at the end of the film, it totally fits his personality and everything you know about him. In other superhero films, we're used to seeing the bad guy go on some kind of mindless rampage at the end of the film. We saw it in The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, the Spider Man movies, the Fantastic Four...but not here. Loki acts like a man with a purpose. Actually he has two purposes, both very personal to him. One is to do commit a terrible act of destruction, partly out of self-loathing and partly out of a twisted sense of honor toward his father. And the other is simply to beat his brother, proving himself Thor's equal. He is easily the deepest villain of any of the Marvel films so far.
The film is directed by Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh (Gilderoy Lockhart!), who handles the epic material perfectly. More than any Marvel film so far, this one focuses on the hero's journey. Even more than a comic book movie, this is a fantasy film about a hero. Expect father-son drama, palace intrigue in the realm of the gods, and an epic confrontation between two brothers who have been become very different people over the course of the story. There is also plenty of humor, with a few real laugh-out-loud moments. And there is a very sweet, almost cute romance woven into the story. It carries an innocent, young-love kind of feeling. It also takes the two characters, one a god more concerned with war and glory, the other a scientist more concerned with solving the mysteries of the universe, and brings them down to earth in their budding love for one another.
I would recommend Thor to any lover of fantasy films, as well as any fans of comic book movies such as Marvel's Avengers lineup. It is solid fantasy fun with a strong sense of the epic and the heroic. And when you see Thor finally wield his hammer and summon the lightning, you'll want to stand up and cheer.
on September 8, 2011
I went to see this with our 9 year old son, honestly not expecting very much. While I have enjoyed Portman and Hopkins in a number of roles, I felt this would be just another comic book hero movie with a bad script, extremely predictable character development, and unoriginal attempts at humor.
I was wrong...
Not only did I AND our 9 year old boy enjoy THOR, our 13 year old daughter, 15 year old goddaughter, and two more of our daughter's friends enjoyed it...ALL 3 TIMES WE SAW IT!!!
That's right...I saw THOR with our kids 3 times. Granted, this is a bit over-killed, but we thoroughly enjoyed the movie every time and plan to purchase it on opening DVD release day. Here's why:
1. I felt it was age appropriate.
2. Was it violent, sure...was it gory, no.
3. It had clear lines of good and bad, treated well with a myriad of complexities that led people to their struggles...so it felt honest.
4. I thought it was a GREAT play into the Avengers movie that is on the way.
5. I felt Branagh did a wonderful job directing...they should consider allowing him to direct the Avengers.
Rent this one...buy it...whatever works for you. It's good entertainment with plenty of action, quick wit, and a sweet redemption in the end. No Oscars here, but a good film nonetheless...thumbs up!
on June 19, 2011
Comic book fans get a lot of flak for being nerds, dweebs and geeks; or at least they used to. Now comics are en vogue as millions of people attend geekfests like Comic Con; although whether that's to see the movie and television stars in attendance remains to be seen. Comic book characters are our mythology, they rival the super powered beings and gods of ancient Greek, Mesopotamian, and Viking mythology. We as humans have always felt this need to look up to higher powers to sort out our lives, believing that the fate of our race is better left in the hands of someone capable of bending the rules of physics. It's only natural then that eventually the worlds of comics and ancient mythology would collide as it does in the new Marvel movie Thor.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the arrogant first born son of King Odin (Anthony Hopkins) of Asgard, and the rightful heir to the throne. When Thor commits an act that could lead to war between Asgard and the Frostgiants, with whom they have a very shaky truce, Odin strips Thor of his powers and banishes him to Earth until he learns humility. On Earth Thor is found by astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her team (Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings) as they study atmospheric disturbances in New Mexico.
Thor is one of Marvel's lesser known properties, despite having been created by Stan Lee back in 1962. An integral character in Marvel's super powered team The Avengers, the movie version of the comic book was announced not long after the success of Iron Man as part of Marvel Studios attempt to bring The Avengers to the big screen. While Marvel has had great success with the first Iron Man movie and to a lesser extent Iron Man 2 and The Incredible Hulk (which is the closest Marvel Studios has come to failure so far), Thor was a risky proposition with the greatest potential for failure. How does one meld the worlds of the mythical Asgard and Earth seamlessly into a movie that is part of a bigger picture with characters that are based solely in our realm?
Enter Kenneth Branagh. The success of Thor can largely be pinned on having a filmmaker with appropriate gravitas to ground the film. Branagh is a star of stage as well as film (for those of you unfamiliar with the name he played Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets). The presence of Branagh alone was somewhat curious considering he's known more for directing acclaimed works like Hamlet (1996) and Henry V (1989) and even as an Irishman the English consider him one of the leaders in Shakespearean theater. It's that knowledge of film and theater that really guides Thor as he borrows as much from Shakespeare's Henry V as he does from modern action films.
Also adding to the weight of Kenneth Branagh's credentials are a list of acclaimed and award winning actors and actresses such as Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgard, Rene Russo, and Idris Elba. Not only do they have the opportunity to ground the movie, but they also look like they're having fun. Part of why we enjoy this movie is because we can see that they enjoy the movie. No one ever really feels like they're hamming it up or sleepwalking through their scenes, you get the sense that aside from the emotions they convey for their characters concerning their predicaments they all want to be on this set and that feeling is infectious. Also Tom Hiddleston's Loki is a revelation at a time when I have to admit that Marvel Studio's previous villains have been lacking a certain je ne sais que. Hiddleston plays the character with a secret, and a glimmer behind the eyes that slowly unravels like a ripe onion throughout the film holding on to his deceit with the hope of another day. He's more complex than the previous villains that have come out of Marvel Studios, and I'm looking forward to his return in The Avengers.
The real linchpin for why this all works though is Chris Hemsworth. While having been around here and there in blink and you'll miss it parts, Hemsworth got his first big break in JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot in the pivotal role of George Kirk, father of James T. Kirk. While his place in geekdom had been set in a small yet important role, the question of whether he could pull off the Norse god turned Marvel superhero. In a lot of actor's hands this would have been a one note character bereft of emotion and humor. Hemsworth is a magnetic leading man, though, exuding charisma and confidence. His poise commands respect, and he effortlessly flows from emotion to emotion, arrogance to humility, with a comedic timing that leaves the audience in stitches but still doesn't undermine his character.
As with most, if not all comic book movies, this movie tries hard to give you a lot of plot in a short two hour span (I say short because it leaves you wanting more, the way a good action movie should). Naturally, some things are a little undercooked but don't ruin the movie. In the end, as much as I fell in love with Natalie Portman's character (as I do with almost any character she plays) the romantic connection between Thor and Foster didn't ring true because for most of the film he seemed somewhat disinterested only to find his infatuation with her later in the movie. Thor's progression from arrogant strongman to humble hero also seems to be slightly haphazard as it really feels as though it could have used more time to flesh out. Hemsworth does an admirable job making the audience feel each twist and turn of the character, but each twist and turn feels a little too abrupt to be genuine.
All in all though, this was an excellent film: a piece of escapist entertainment that embraces Shakespeare as much as it embraces modern blockbuster pop-art. On the scales of Marvel I'd rate this just slightly under Iron Man and far above Iron Man 2 and The Incredible Hulk. The fact that they were able to get Thor right gives me hope for The First Avenger: Captain America and The Avengers. If you're a fan of comic book movies, Iron Man, or Marvel I highly recommend that you give this film a try. Not to mention, this is quite possibly the best use of 3D I recall since Avatar. Check it out!
For more review check out: jasoncwilkerson.blogspot.com
Superhero films are pretty much guaranteed to make a killing at the box office. It's mostly due to high anticipation, but also due to the fact that most studios seem to have been able to iron out the kinks over the years which lead to most of these films doing their source material justice while also just being great films in general. It hasn't always been that way though. Elektra and Punisher: War Zone practically bombed while films like X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine resulted in more fans distancing themselves from the franchise rather than embracing it. With Marvel banking so much on The Avengers being not only a huge accumulation of characters that fans love but also an amazing assembly of talent, Thor is a film that pretty much had to be good to gain momentum for what was just over the horizon. Before I gave up being a full-time comic book nerd, I never really thought much of Thor. So I wasn't really sure what to expect going into this. I wasn't overly excited for the film even though it looked fairly incredible, but luckily Thor was able to offer a magnificent spectacle that all superhero films should strive to be.
Thor still has that same atmosphere that any of the Marvel films since Iron Man have had, but at the same time seems to offer something that those films couldn't. A lot of it probably has to do with Asgard. This heavenly realm is unlike anything you've ever seen before and the special effects in the film are done well enough to be equally as impressive as Pandora in Avatar. Asgard is this spectacular kingdom in the sky that is incredibly extravagant and painted with gold. It's just breathtaking how well Thor was able to pull something like that off.
The cast is really phenomenal, as well. Chris Hemsworth is a really solid choice for Thor. His height, his build, the way he carries himself, along with his facial expressions are just as vital to how Thor is portrayed as his appearance and his dialogue. Hemsworth nails it; all of it. Tom Hiddleston was also a scene stealer. Loki is a guy you know is up to no good right from the start, but Hiddleston portrays his underhanded deeds to perfection. Throw in the intensity he utilizes in the second half of the film and Loki turns out to be a villain you're going to crave to see more of. Anthony Hopkins deserves a mention, as well. Many of Hopkins' recent roles have been lacking that special something that made many of his most popular roles so great. He was a fantastic choice for Odin though. He reminds you why you considered him so talented in the first place. The only nitpick I have is that both Natalie Portman and Tadanobu Asano were a little disappointing and I was expecting more from them. Portman doesn't really do much besides look pretty and Tadanobu's Hogun just deserved a little more screen time. I'm a huge fan of just about every Tadanobu Asano film out there though, so that could just be the fanboy in me talking.
Thor may be the loudest film I've ever seen in theaters. The film is mostly action to begin with, so it's guaranteed to be loud. But it just seemed louder than usual, especially any scene involving The Destroyer. That's not a bad thing; not at all. I'd rather have a film be too loud than too quiet any day.
Thor is an extravagant looking film dripping with spellbinding special effects, a fantastic cast overflowing with talent, and a captivating story that holds your interest from beginning to end. Thor has enough character development to introduce new characters while also leaving enough room to expand on their origins in the forthcoming sequels you'll be itching for by the time you see Thor swing Mjolnir for the last time. The superhero spectacular also offers a fair amount of heart amongst its waves of depth while also delivering incredibly loud and explosive action sequences. Words almost don't seem to do the film justice. Thor is imaginative, charming, and the definition of what an introductory superhero film should be. It could arguably be the best Marvel film to date.
Growing up, I never thought in my wildest dreams I'd ever see a big-budget take on Thor: the classic Marvel Comics character that really never had the massive following or universal appeal that say, Spider-Man or the X-Men had, yet here we are. Directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Chris Hemsworth as the title character, Thor is a fairly brisk and wonderfully fun film that doesn't quite feel a major set-up for The Avengers movie like Iron Man 2 did before it. Exiled to Earth by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) to learn humility, Thor becomes attracted to Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and seeks to return home to Asgard, while his nefarious brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) plots a hostile takeover of his homeworld. With a wonderful cast that also features Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgard, Colm Feore, Rene Russo, and Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson, and Jamie Alexander as fellow Gods and friends, Thor is a flat-out blast. Even though it doesn't leave that same feeling of awe-inspiring awesomeness that the first Iron Man did, Thor is a great adaptation of a legendary comic book character, and here's hoping that the next time we see the Thunder God on the big screen, it will be just as good or hopefully even better.
on September 15, 2011
I am 58 and was a huge fan of the Jack Kirby Thor comics. Kirby captured the feeling of Asgaard perfectly for me. As with all of the Marvel superhero movies, we realize that most of the bulk of the comics was filled with fighting. That's why I liked Kirby... he made the fight scenes artistic, so I didn't actually realize they were violent. They were visual ballets, artistically designed sparring matches. This never really happens in the films... so far.
I could criticize this film by imagining how it could have been better... i.e. The Asgaardian scenes could have been more Michelangelo-ish, incredibly posed figures, dramatic and dynamic compositions, lyrical sunlit interludes, trolls and monsters and sparring matches, blah, blah, blah. But I realize that the director is only human, he is dealing with actors, and there is a budget... and... the film has to look like a Marvel film. That said... this is a pretty good film. I found myself caring for Thor when he is mortal, wishing he would kiss the girl, thrilled when he got his hammer/power back.
I will note another movie-making problem here. Remember when they made Spiderman? and the CGI people had to make Doc Oc's arms realistically walk? I read that they had trouble because Steve Ditko had drawn great artwork that worked 2 dimensionally as still shots, but that the in-between action was very hard to visualize. Something like that is going on in the Thor movie. Kirby drew great sets, but we never actually saw the Gods transport anywhere, there was not an actual explanation of how they went anywhere and where that anywhere was. So in the movie we get this kind of science fiction universe, with a giant matter transporter and a rainbow bridge/wormhole. I suppose it sort-of works, and it had to be done somehow... but it all felt kind of forced.
Now on to my dislikes. I never liked the frost giants in the comics. Kirby could never figure out how to draw them adequately, so I never liked them. In the movie, they are dark and black&blue, and their world is dark and black&blue. They look like bad guys, or like those Borg in Star Trek. They almost spoiled the movie for me. And then on top of that, they are main characters! They have their own realm where they just stand around stiffly being cold!
And the OdinSleep! It is not explained at all. And it seems forced and unnecessary... it's a plot device.
And Thor's friends from the comic book are there. But they are not as interesting and they don't do much. Volstagg is not as fat and not as funny. Sif is not as elegant and cool. Fandral is not as dashing. The other guy is now oriental, I don't remember that from the comic, but it's been a long time.
Asgaard should have been more over-the-top hugely dramatic. With more eloquent speeches.
Loki has been transformed from a God of mischief into a troubled son of dubious parents who is misguided and then really bad and then violent and then devious. He is confusing. He should have been much more melodramatic. He should have been a scene-stealer. The real star of the film.
Thor is ok. Just ok. He looks pretty good. They altered Kirby's original outfit a little... it's darker ( what isn't anymore) He should have been more childish, fun-loving, braggadoshilicious, God-like.
Most of my comments are based on my fond memories of Jack Kirby's Tales of Asgaard, Tales to Astonish, The Mighty Thor. That was a long time ago and I'm sure the Thor comic changed a lot over the years since then. I remember a long series of stories involving Hercules and spaceships and aliens and lots and lots of fun, fun, fun and imagination.
There are a lot of funny, tongue-in-cheek moments in this movie. And I appreciated them. Stan Lee driving the pickup that tries to pull Thor's hammer out of the crater, The guy from SHIELD, when confronted with the Destroyer, says to no one " it's probably one of Tony Stark's, he never tells me anything" These kind of moments harken back to the good ole days of Marvel.
Oh, the Destroyer. One of my favorite Kirby designs,,, the empty suit of armor with a death beam. Seems kind of silly nowadays. In the movie it is taller and skinnier, but still scary.
Again, the worst part of the film is the too dark Frost Giants and their realm. Anything else would have been better. Loki was too evil and confused. Odin was OK, should have been more massive. Asgaard should have been more dramatic. The scientists are pretty good. Nice ensemble group. Better than Thor's friends.
Worth seeing, not great.
on June 5, 2011
Kenneth Branagh's Thor seamlessly blends the epic, sweeping mythos of the Norse gods with the effortless humor Ôdand humanity. I've been a comic book fan for years, though never a Thor fan, but this movie is accesible and entertaining to a newcomer.
It is a rare creation story that shows the origins of both the hero and the villain, and succeeds in making both believable. Thor and the villain, Loki, each undergo a transformation- one a redemptionø, the other a fall from grace. Tom Hiddleston as Loki and Chris Hemsworth as Thor bring ease and naturalism to their superhuman roles. Natalie Portman is sweet and intelligent as Jane Foster, scientist and Thor's discoverer/love interest.
Thor is what summer movies are supposed to be- fun, fresh, and grand.
on October 15, 2013
"We fell into human myth and legend..." Snorri Sturluson would have enjoyed this movie! I didn't know what to expect - what a great surprise! Director Kenneth Branagh brings depth to the writers story, and Natalie Portman adds a classy element. She quotes Arthur C. Clarke, that "Magic is just science we don't understand yet." And Science Fiction is a precursor to Science-fact. Of course Chris Hemsworth (excellent in Star Trek) is perfect, but a real treat is Stellan Skarsgård as scientist Erik Selvig, and Anthony Hopkins as Odin (plus ravens). Erik might laugh at the thought that Thor claims the old stories are true, but after the two have a few boilermakers, Thor carries him home, saying "We drank, we fought, he made his ancestors proud." Try Iron Man, Iron Man 3 first, and then follow this fun film with another ride, Avengers. We're looking forward to the sequel. Enjoy!
on November 6, 2011
Thor is a phenomenal result of source material, strong thematic elements, and amazing set design. Fan of comics or no, the Norse mythology is in your face, and the world suffers not for the god's attentions. Despite the difference in themes and settings, you are caught in the epic-ness and are given just enough time to get carried away with it. And maybe a bit longer for you to enjoy an epic in a quiet New Mexican town.
The characters and plot are point for point stories that have happened in the comics throughout the ages. Arrogant son defies father, younger brother manipulates the favoured son. The most amazing thing happens - it feels real.
While we're along for the ride, the BD contains a number of featurettes from casting to props (esp. the Hammer), make-up, music (my least favourite aspect of the film) and settings. Unfortunately, this series of behind-the-scenes comes across a bit of a forced hand. Stan Lee is featured a bit in the featurettes, and that's awesome. He actually is shown walking and talking alongside the cast and crew. There is an Avengers teaser, which is not really anything special of any sorts. The deleted scenes are, for the most part, not deserving of the cut. The first of these is the best - featuring a close look at the brothers Thor and Loki and their close relationship. You get a real sense of camaraderie between Thor and his fellows (and Sif, too). Personally, I'd throw the lot of them back in the film and suffer the added length with a smile.
Once again, I write this review as listening to the director commentary. So I'll come back and edit for those points later.
For now, the BD is as epic as the titular character himself. That's pretty mighty....
Kenneth Branagh's film version of "Thor" packs an awful lot of story into an hour and forty-five minutes. By all rights it shouldn't work but "Thor" manages to be an entertaining, action packed thrill ride that juggles quite a few subplots VERY effectively. It shouldn't be a surprise though given that Branagh has done this juggling act before but with "Henry V" (which along with "King Lear" and the Arthur myth provided inspiration for the story as seen by the director)and other densely ploted plays by the Bard.
Benefiting from a clever well written screenplay written by Ashley Miller, Zack Stenz and Don Payne(and based on a story by TV/film and comic book writer J. Michael Straczynski & Mark Protosevich which was, of couse, based on the comic book originally done by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Larry Leiber (Stan Lee's brother), "Thor" works so well because of the unifying vision of Branagh who sees the film as a comic book version of classic, action packed plays and literature. Chris Hemsdale ("Star Trek")makes the main character appealing despite his vanity and ego as portrayed early on in the film while Tom Hiddleston does a fine job playing Thor's brother and main rival for the throne Loki.
Banished to Earth because of his arrogance, ego and for almost breaking the peace with the Frost Giants by his father King Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Thor finds adjusting to being a human a difficult experience. Scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is fascinated with Thor and believes he holds the answers to a weird scientific event that occurred in the New Mexico desert when he first appeared. He finds himself thrust into the role of Earth's protector when Loki unleases the Destroyed on Earth to kill Thor and when Loki betrays his people to help Odin's nemesis the Frost Giants come to power.
Fans of "The Avengers" comics should also watch for a cameo by Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton aka Hawkeye and, of course, Samuel L. Jackson in a cameo at the conclusion of the film.
Updated for Blu-ray: The Blu-ray has a number of cool special features but I most enjoyed the cut/extended scenes and the director's commentary which was quite insightful.
Image quality was amazing truly a demo quality Blu-ray.