May 6, 2011

Thor - 2011

Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writers: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, & Don Payne
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston

"Your ancestors called it magic, but you call it science. I come from a land where they're one and the same." After a misguided attempt to destroy the home of the Frost Giants, Thor (Hemsworth) is banished from Asgard by his father Odin (Hopkins). Upon arriving on Earth, he encounters astrophysicist Jane Foster (Portman), who initially dismisses him as a lunatic. Meanwhile, Thor's brother Loki (Hiddleston) has nefarious plans of his own, which can only succeed so long as Thor is banished from Asgard.

The production of Thor was fraught with peril--will audiences take to the Elizabethan English spoken by Asgardians in the comics? Will there be too much/not enough of Asgard/Earth? Will people understand the complex details of Norse mythology? What's Idris Elba doing in a movie about Norse gods, anyway? After seeing the film, I'm happy to say all the worries I had going into it were assuaged early on. The trio of scriptwriters almost entirely threw out the archaic speech patterns, yet still made the dialogue sound regal and elegant. The balance between the two realms is spot-on, and there's just enough Hopkins-narrated prologue to explain the bits of mythos necessary to understand the film. While I loved every member of the cast (and admit his role was rather limited to begin with), I found myself wishing for more of Elba's Heimdall by the film's end; he brought a great intensity to the character when not required to be solemn. The set design of Asgard was nothing short of awe-inspiring; however, one of my few problems with this film was the costumes and props sometimes look plasticky rather than metallic. Upon our introduction to Mjolnir, Thor's hammer, it's seen in close-up, and looked to me like something I could pick up at my local comic shop for a reasonable fee. Also, there is NO reason to see this film in 3D. The action scenes that take place in the Frost Giants' realm are already shot in nigh-darkness, making it difficult to tell at times what's going on, and the 3D post-conversion process would only make that worse. Overall, though, it's a great film both in its own regard and as an Avengers tie-in (there are references to Iron Man and Incredible Hulk, and we get a glimpse of a certain amethyst archer we'll be seeing more of next summer). A-

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