Friday, May 13, 2011

TGD Review: Thor Gets Dissected

My plans to see it on opening day thoroughly foiled (as written about here), I finally managed to see Thor Thursday morning. If I was going to be delayed, at least the viewing occurred on Thor’s Day, the first Thor’s Day it was out, in fact. Who looks clever now?

Anyway, for those who do not know what the movie is about…you know what? No. I’m not doing that. If you don’t know the slightest about Thor, then I, as a dedicated Marvel Comics fan must ask you to leave this site now.

On to the review. For Asgard!

The Plus Side: When I first heard they were making a movie of Thor (it seemed I was just a boy then) I was gravely concerned about the copious amounts of CGI it would require. I was worried that it would look more like Toy Story than a super hero movie. The various mythical beasts that Thor battles and the realm of Asgard itself I thought presented potential disaster. I could not have been more wrong.

The movie presents Asgard in a way that should make the comic artists proud. It looks about as real, yet over the top impressive as any fantasy realm ought to. The rainbow bridge, the Bifrost, was even represented in a way that made it obvious it was the rainbow bridge without just making it a rainbow. The battles with the Frost Giants were spectacular. The Destroyer armor was impressive.

Since the CGI was good, that led to great action. When I was a kid, Thor’s comic book issue were synonymous with epic battles. He was throwing Rocky IV style haymakers with Mjolnir and summoning lightening form the heavens such that it was one of the cooler comics to read….okay, stare at the pictures. In the film, Thor battles the way an Asgardian god was meant to. Flight, lightening, brute force and adept wielding of that iconic hammer were all employed vividly in the featured battles. I turned to my wife numerous times during fight scenes and just whispered, “F---, yeah!”

But Thor is not just a fighter. There is more to his story. There is a level of arrogance, of entitlement, which his father must break in him. There is his relationship with Loki, his brother. There is in turn Loki’s personality, his need to make mischief and his constant tightrope walk between creating havoc and destroying his own people. Director Kenneth Branagh pulled this all off superbly. There was depth and meaning to the character’s personalities and their experiences throughout the film. They were not simply immortal beings who walked about the realms kicking as much ass as they saw fit. They went through real trials and made real changes.

On top of it all, it was done with moments of humor injected into the story. The script capitalized on the oddity of a god being cast down to Earth. Thor’s interaction with the mortals caused the plot development moments of the film to be fun and fulfilling. I wasn’t sitting there and waiting for them to get back to the action. Instead, I was interested in what they were revealing about the characters and laughing at the moments of comic relief.

There is one final positive to point out. Another Avenger appears in the film. I will not say who it is, but I will say that I annoyed my wife in the middle of the movie by tugging on her sleeve and repeating, “Do you know who that is? Do you know who that is?” like an excited nine-year-old. I’m getting light headed again now just thinking about it.

The Down Side: They changed some things. It’s nothing too critical to the heart of the story that is Thor, fewer things in my opinion than most movie adaptations of comic books, but some purists might be upset.

Most notably, Thor recalls his status throughout the film. He is not left on Midgard wondering who he is, or in the body of crippled (that’s the 1960s authentic lingo, not me trying to be offensive) doctor Donald Blake. I think this makes the movie move forward faster, but I can also see some people, some hardcore Thor fans, being pissed by this.

There are other things as well. Jane Foster is a physicist instead of a nurse. I found this less necessary to move the plot forward but not a deal breaker.

If you are upset by these things, you might also shrug as to how Heimdall is African American and Hogun is Asian when both are supposed to be Norse gods. Again, these are all details I view as superficial. I did think the Frost Giants could have been a little more…giant. Oh well.

The Wrap-Up: The movie I sincerely thought was going to be the most difficult of The Avengers series to pull off hit a home run. It has a good story with rich characters, a lot of action and some humor. It leaves you wanting to see Thor in another film soon, which you will (though not soon enough if you ask me).

Adults will enjoy the movie and there isn’t anything in it that kids cannot handle. If you allow your children to watch any sort of fantasy or fighting movies or television shows, they can see Thor.

TGD Rating: If you have read the last few reviews, you know that one full star is the highest possible rating a film can receive from this blog. A star is awfully large, remember. We orbit one. That said, I have been handing out star fractions mostly by the fifth, 1/5, 2/5…you get the picture. My rating for the last movie I reviewed, Rio, however, left a bad taste in my mouth. I mixed decimals and fractions, something I vow never to do again. Thus, in order to properly rate Thor, I have been forced to break the star rating into tenths instead of fifths.

Thor gets 9/10 star. Yes, that’s nine tenths of a star. It is the highest rating yet for a movie reviewed here. Go out and see it. You won’t be disappointed. Unless you suck, in which case, I’m sorry…that you suck.

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