I’m sorry. I’m just going to apologize now because as I’m writing this, the only things that are going through my head are bad puns or jokes about dropping the hammer or it being hammer time. I can’t promise that I will refrain from using any of them (see the post’s title) but I will do my best to keep them to a minimum.
The marketing machine for Thor has been working overtime for the last couple of months so I’m sure you already know what the film is about. If you don’t I’ll run it down for you. Thor is the prodigal son of Odin, the ruler of Asgard. He is to ascend the throne of his father over his brother Loki. Thor is arrogant and pompous and is basically just a little to big for his britches and when he brings possible danger to Asgard, Odin unleashes his paternal anger and casts him out sending him to Earth, sans his power.
Following Thor is his almighty hammer, Mjolnir. Thor can’t wield Mjolnir anymore because he’s no longer worthy and until he is, Mjolnir will just sit there, stuck in a rock. Seems a waste of a good hammer if you ask me. On Earth Thor runs into, or rather almost gets run over by Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her companions. Jane is an astrophysicist who is doing research in a small town in New Mexico. Along with her partner Erik (Stellan Skarsgård) and her assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings), Jane finds herself helping Thor even though she (A) doesn’t know him, (B) loses all of her equipment and research to S.H.I.E.L.D., and (C) in the middle of a battle to save Earth, or at the very least, the small town and all of its inhabitants.
With Thor you basically get two very different environments. Asgard and small town America. The difference is extreme and it makes it feel like you’re actually watching two very different films. Asgard is grand, and beautiful and just……epic. New Mexico, is…..well, New Mexico. Each location has it’s purpose but to be honest I would be perfectly content to watch an entire film based in Asgard. The sets, the costumes, the characters all lend themselves to this other world and it’s amazing and bright and fantastical.
When I first heard the news that Chris Hemsworth was to play the almighty Thor, my first thought was “Poppa Kirk?”. I think a lot of other people probably had the same thought. Star Trek was the only thing I had seen him in and I was befuddled to say the least. Then I saw The Perfect Getaway and got an idea of his physique and thought “Well, OK, maybe.” Then I saw the pictures from the set. Holy. Crap. He’s huge. And it turns out he plays a pretty darned good superhero. He carried and conveyed all of the emotional levels extremely well and that sort of surprised me. From the pompous ass to the humble hero, Hemsworth showed that he’s not just eye candy in a cape. He was at his best during hammer time and in talking to my resident Thor expert, the way he wielded the hammer hit that nail right on the head.
Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is Thor’s brother who looks to make a name for himself in their father’s eyes. Sure, technically he’s the bad guy, but he’s not evil per se. You almost feel bad for the guy. He knows that Thor will take Odin’s place on the throne, and that he can’t match Thor’s strength or size. That would give anyone a complex I would think. Hiddleston played both sides of the coin here. You like him but you don’t. You feel bad for him, but then again, you don’t. He was able to walk a fine line with Loki and in the end, he was just aces.
Anthony Hopkins plays Odin like the Dad you really don’t want to piss off. When he….ermmm…..drops the hammer on Thor, I felt like I was getting scolded. He’s commanding as ever and anytime he’s onscreen he’s golden.
The Warrior’s Three and Sif, were all great, but I felt they are a bit under-used. I would have like to have seen more action with them, but they did show a bit. I barely recognized Ray Stevenson under Volstagg’s beard but he was in there somewhere. At one point in the movie one of the S.H.I.E.L.D agents referred to them as Xena, Jackie Chan and Robin Hood and that actually made me laugh because I had the same thought. Especially about Fandral (Josh Dallas) looking at tad like Robin Hood. Jaimie Alexander kicked a little bit of ass as Sif, but it seemed like something was missing in her relationship with Thor. There seemed to be more there, but nothing was explained or expanded upon. It’s more implied than anything else.
The real breakout role for me, was that of Heimdall. Idris Elba was breathtaking in this role. As the gatekeeper of Asgard, Elba brought a necessary presence to the role. Heimdall’s calm exterior could have easily turned to cardboard in lesser hands, but Elba was able to strike a balance between that aspect of his character and the aspect that lies beneath the surface. Simply put, he was perfect. And I don’t give out “perfects” very often. Plus his costume and sword were pretty awesome.
The part of the film that takes place on Earth is pretty much what you would expect. It’s in this world that the comic relief comes into play. It grew a little thin in places where it seemed that only a laugh track was missing, but luckily this wasn’t a constant. While I love Natalie Portman, I don’t think she did anything mind-blowing in this film. She’s incredibly talented, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been a fan since The Professional, but this role really didn’t seem like a stretch for her. It’s always nice to see Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson. I love the fact that he’ll pop up in all of these films leading up to The Avengers. He’s just fun. The cameo of Jeremy Renner however felt a little bit forced. I know they’re tying things together, but it all seemed a little bit slap dash. Regardless, we got our first look at Hawkeye.
When word came down that Kenneth Branagh was to take the reins on Thor I was a little surprised. I liked his work with Dead Again and Much Ado About Nothing, but Thor is a far cry from either of those. Turns out, he was the best man for the job because he delivered a solid film. I can’t speak in terms of consistency to the comics, but judging it purely as a film, I’m very happy with the product he delivered.
A piece of advice: do not waste your money seeing Thor in 3D. This was not filmed in 3D but instead had the post production treatment. I’m not against 3D, but I hate the fact that the majority of them are done in post. The one area where the 3D really detracts from this film in particular is the color palate. The colors of Asgard are very rich and all of that is lost with those stupid glasses. Through out the film I actually kept taking them off to see how much of a difference it would make. It made a world of difference. I actually got irritated when the screen turned blurry and I had to put them back on. Needless to say, I’ll most likely go back and watch this film the way it was intended….in 2D.
Another piece of advice: stay for the credits.
Still on the fence about it? Check out the trailer below. Have you seen Thor yet? Did you see 2D or 3D? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.Tags: Anthony Hopkins, Chris Hemsworth, Clark Gregg, Idris Elba, Jaimie Alexander, Josh Dallas, Kat Dennings, Kenneth Branagh, Mjolnir, Natalie Portman, Ray Stevenson, Stellan Skarsgård, Thor, Thor's Hammer, Tom Hiddleston