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Skippy Goes To The Movies!: “Thor” May 12, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Movies, Popular Culture, Science Ficton, Uncategorized.
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Verdict: The best superhero movie since “Superman: The Movie”

Children, I think I’m on record for not being a big fan of movies based on Marvel Comics superheroes. While I liked “X-Men” and loved “X-Men 2,” I absolutely despised each and every one of the “Spider-Man” movies (especially that third abomination), loathed “X-Men 3,” and found the “Iron Man” movies merely tolerable. The less said about both of the “Hulk” movies, the better. This, of course, is part of my DC Comics partisan fanboyism. A Marvel superhero movie has to be awesome for me to like it (see the aforementioned “X-Men 2”).

That said, “Thor” was absolutely awesome. Director Kenneth Branaugh took a story written by J. Michael Straczynski (I was surprised when I saw his name pop up in the credits) and crafted a thoroughly delightful and visually arresting summer flick. Throughout the movie, I kept thinking, “THIS is what a superhero movie should be!”

The story is fairly simple: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is a cocky son of god Odin. Because of his arrogance, he nearly starts a war with the Frost Giants; as a result of his arrogant disobedience of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), he is banished to Earth. On Earth, he meets astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her band of merry scientists; meanwhile, his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is causing all sorts of trouble back in Asgard. Needless to say, Thor’s time on Earth humbles him and he learns how to be a hero just in time to save the day and set up the impending Avengers movie. Unlike other superhero films, this isn’t about a human (or alien who finds out he’s an alien) coming to terms with superpowers. This is a simple story of redemption—Thor has been cast out of a heaven and has to reclaim his rightful place as heir to Asgard’s throne. As such, the movie flows fairly smoothly. There aren’t any spots in the movie where the narrative begins to drag and feel padded, even at an hour and fifty-four minutes. Frankly, the near two-hour running time flew by.

I have to say, I love how Marvel has structured their movies so that each movie (Spider-Man and X-Men excluded) is part of a shared universe. I think a major flaw in DC’s movie-making strategy is separating each movie franchise. For example, the upcoming Green Lantern movie will have nothing to do with Batman which has nothing to do with Superman which has nothing to do with either Batman or Green Lantern. On top of all that, Warner Brothers (the company that owns DC Comics) wants to do a Justice League movie! And as far as I can tell, they want different actors to play Batman and Superman in the JL movie—how stupid is that? Anyway, even though this movie is part of a shared universe, it doesn’t at all require having seen the Iron Man or Hulk movies. Frankly, I am interested to see how the Avengers movie turns out. How will they integrate all these superheroes in one movie without it turning into an incoherent mess? I guess time will tell.

While this movie will not be submitting any Oscar reels, I think that Branaugh got serviceable performances out of the actors. Anthony Hopkins didn’t have much to do, so there were times in which he seemed rather…listless. Natalie Portman shines in this movie; when she’s got a good director, she brings it. So, basically, her performance in the Star Wars prequels? All George Lucas’s no-directing fault. Anyway, she has amazing chemistry with Chris Hemsworth—it was reminiscent of the chemistry between Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder in “Superman.” Portman and Hemsworth’s rather chaste romance was actually believable and not (too) corny.

And can we talk about Chris Hemsworth?

Fig. 1: Well, hellooooooo, Thor!

Ok, let’s talk. While Hemsworth might be something of a putz in interviews, onscreen he has a magnetism that is…wow. He was an inspired–nay, perfect choice to play Thor. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s GORGEOUS. Seriously.

Basically, this movie is going to be the second Blu-Ray DVD I own.

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