Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thor (2011)

Claws. Sharp ,three bladed, indestructible. Back then in high school it seemed most of my peers wanted, pretended, or wondered if a real life human being can ever have one. Why? Because Wolverine was a star.

I always thought he was cool but I never joined the bandwagon. Thor was the one for me. His firepower, the chivalric-like culture in the stories, and all the meaning that comes with being called a god drove me to the Asgardian rather than the cigar smoking mutant.

Recalling those days, I find it strange today why action is not a word I'd use to describe the live action Thor movie. It feels wrong considering firepower was what drove me to the character. The thunder, the lightning; my mind should have been blown away watching film but I was not.

The movie was not all bad mind you so I asked myself what it lacked that it didn’t become as I said mind blowing. First answer I came up with was that as a weapon swirling weird sized hammers are not as sexy as lightsabers.  Strange reason but makes sense if you see both weapons in action.

Put it in another way the action was there it just looked either underwhelming or totally idiotic. The hammer was just oddly sized; a strange weapon to use compared to a sword, or a glowing sword at that. The Jedis rotate their sabers so unnecessarily at times but still it looks cool.

Hell, even at the height of my idolatry for the Thunder God I never wished for a hammer, but I did get a habit of tapping my umbrella on the ground hoping it'd stop the rain. In truth, I wanted claws like everyone else.

I was impressed though, in seeing the hammer’s powers in action; getting thrown and automatically it returns; tap it on the ground and see an output almost like a nuclear blast. But scenes like those unfortunately few and far between.

With action less highlighted than I'd hoped, Thor came out more of a father and son drama. An over eager son who thought himself a worthy successor if not replacement for his father.

I was sold on that point in Thor's attempt to lift the hammer after banishment. Seeing him with that broken man look into the heavens you'd know he understood Odin (Anthony Hopkins). That scene carried it all.

Acting wise I think Chris Hemsworth did an OK job being 'godly' especially since it was far from that syndicated 60s cartoon I had loved. I must admit being a fan, the prospect of seeing a real life actor talking like that cartoon show was my biggest dread.

At least the alter ego, Donald Blake found its way into the movie.  It was cute the way they let the character into the movie. Cuter still, since it was Natalie Portman who did it.

Since good movie is truly the sum of its parts, the supporting cast should take most of the credit for good film having complimented where Chris may have fell short.

The lovely Natalie Portman of course was Jane Foster.  Her character was a great reboot from a 60s damsel in distress nurse to a scientist. And a brave scientist she is considering she's following an outlandish theory about wormholes.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is even more perfect with that silent waters run deep look.  Every time he walks into a scene you gotta wonder what he’s thinking. Odin was pathetic compared to the image I had in mind of the all powerful King of the Gods, but I guess Director Kenneth Branagh was looking for that wise and weary man look in order to highlight the relationship between father and son which ultimately is the story.

And it is a good story, a father and son tale. You know who the characters are where they are coming from. You feel the father's anguish or the son's frustration at never measuring up in the father’s eyes. The story felt whole.
But still there is that weird taste in the mouth.  While I think the hammer deserves most of the flak my mind still searched for other reasons.

Compared to Iron Man, the movie about the armored avenger had more personality. In watching it you'd know; you'd feel how world works with a billionaire eccentric with a penchant for hi tech suits of armor.  Even the Hulk had an entire army looking out for him.  The greatness or the uniqueness of the hero is reflected in the context of the other characters and the environment.

Thor was always seen in the context of Asgard. Even though he can lay claim to being the strongest while at home he is normal.

The small town which the story revolved in barely even saw Thor. It probably didn't help that Shield had control, probably doing a news blackout of some sort. He looked like an incredibly muscular hillbilly on drugs.  Destroying mugs in a coffee shop, what else would one think of him?
If there should be a display of power in should have been on Earth. On earth he is a god. Yet the small town atmosphere, the lack of a population, minimized risk; little audience, he barely registered. There was drama, conflict; but not end of the world stuff, end of Asgard maybe.

I know these films act like an introduction for the Avengers, but Thor looked like he was passing through.  He came to Earth accidentally through exile. Even though he had developed interest for Jane it still looked easy for him to leave.  Thor and Asgard barely registered.

Instead Thor should have had more exposure.  He should have saved more than an isolated town.  The world should have been asking itself why someone claiming to be a god had saved the day, and all the while it also dreading what else is out there besides a hi-tech armor, a green monster, and a God of Thunder.

That would have been a greater intro for 2012’s Avengers.

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