When there was first talk of a big screen Thor adaptation, I immediately assumed that it would be the worst film of the Marvel universe. How could they ever made a movie about the mythological Norse Gods tie into the real-world of Tony Stark in the Iron Man films? In my mind, it was destined for disaster and could bring down the formation of The Avengers. But the announcement of Shakespearean master Kenneth Branagh as director changed my opinion. Hope sparked. When Natalie Portman publicly claimed she wanted the co-star role of Jane Foster because of Branagh’s vision and the strong screenplay, I was all-in.
Thor is equal parts origins story and Avengers set-up with a twist of Captain America foreshadowing snuck in after the credits. The first 30 minutes is dedicated to explaining why Thor, the God of Thunder, was banished from the peaceful heavenly realm of Asgard. Most of what happens to Thor (Chris Hemsworth, Star Trek) as a mortal on bound to Earth builds up his relationship with either Jane Foster (Portman) or S.H.I.E.L.D. – the secret government agency that will put The Avengers team together. The second act bounces back and forth between these relationship-building events and Asgard, where a universe-changing rebellion is brewing. What kind of summer blockbuster would Thor be if it didn’t end with a thunderous battle of the Gods?
The writers of Thor know that they are asking you to stretch your imagination and disbelief. Making it easier to accept, they constantly reference how odd the whole idea truly is. When Gods Lady Sif and the Warriors Three march down the streets of a tiny New Mexico town in full battle garb, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents report, “Xena, Jackie Chan and Robin Hood are coming down the street. I didn’t know the renaissance fair was in town?” Even the characters make reference to the oddness of Thor‘s story. Poking fun of itself, the witting writing of Thor makes it easier to accept and go with.
Everything about Thor looks fantastic. Although a large chunk of the off-Earth fighting is done in front of CGI landscapes against CGI giants, most of the stunts were achieved through practical manners and not CGI. In an interview I conducted with stunt coordinator Andy Armstrong, he explained that Hemsworth filmed 99% of his own fighting and stunts. The 1% that he did not perform was not do to his own lack of skills or ability – it was because the studio wouldn’t allow him to do them. The real physical action added a refreshing layer of authenticity that is sure to be missing from CGI-heavy blockbuster Transformers 3 in July.
I am convinced that had anybody but Kenneth Branagh brought Thor to life, it wouldn’t have worked nearly as well as it does. From characterization and delivery, Branagh is brilliantt. Because of his extensive history with and knowledge of Shakespeare’s works, many characters hold a resemblance of classic Shakespearean characters. This hint of familiarity makes you immediately join in with the camaraderie of the characters. Again, you are reminded of Shakespeare’s writing due to the flow of dialogue and language used as they converse with one another. Their manner of speech and humor is perfectly aligned with his classics.
Thor was not shot in 3D. It went through the post-conversion process. Just as The Green Hornet, Thor was given extra love and care through an extensive conversion to avoid looking terrible like Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender. Thor‘s 3D is looks just fine, but presents two flaws. One, the glasses make the picture too dark. At times, you feel like you cannot see what it going on. Two, the cuts during the fight sequences occur too fast and too often. When watching 3D, the eye takes a couple seconds to grasp and recognize the different layers of 3D depth. If cuts occur too quickly, your mind cannot fully comprehend the entire image. For those reasons, I do not recommend seeing Thor in 3D.
Aside from the optional 3D of Thor, my only complaint comes from the fast pace of the story. Coming in at 114 minutes, Thor feels like the CliffNotes version of a much grander cut. Some emotional connections don’t feel as strong as they are made out to be. The action, especially in the end, feels rushed. If Thor was highly edited for time constraints, here’s to hoping Paramount will allow Branagh to release a director’s cut Blu-ray.
Guys, if you don’t want to see Thor, something is wrong with you. Girls, if anything, go see it for the shirtless ripped Chris Hemsworth, but I’m sure you will be impressed by the movie itself once you see it. If you plan on seeing Iron Man, The Hulk and Captain America work as a team in 2012′s The Avengers, being a key member of The Avengers, you will definitely see Thor before then. So why not hit it up this weekend. You wont be disappointed.
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures