Film Reviews


By • May 10th, 2011 •

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Branagh gives Thor a Shakespearean pathos.

After attending CinemaCon in Las Vegas, I now know that in the very near future all movies will be filmed in 3D. Even independents. Even your cell phone videos. This is according to the Gospel of James and George. Cameron and Lucas, that is.

So, what best way to get ahead of the stampede but to own a pair of state-of-the-art custom 3D glasses? I had to wait until a THOR preview to try out my Marchon3D glasses, while everyone else was given studio-issued 3D glasses. Marchon3D, while being a fashionable accoutrement, doubles as sunglasses!

So, how can I access THOR’s 3D? Through my Marchon 3D glasses, except for a few out-of-focus scenes, the 3D was fantastic.

First, the casting. Chris Hemsworth was also at CinemaCon. Thinner, leaner, tall, and groomed to perfection, Hemsworth was very personable, smiling and answering those typically meaningless questions from the press. Accessible, he made every other male star in attendance look like Don Knotts. Ryan and Chris, your superhero franchises are in trouble.

Why wasn’t Chris Hemsworth chosen as Superman?

Famed as a Shakespearean actor and director, Kenneth Branagh was an unusual choice to spearhead THOR. Yet, now it seems perfectly right. Branagh gives the story a potent family drama with Shakespearean rivalry at its core (but no Lady Macbeth). And then there is the dimension of illegitimacy – always a nice, thorny touch. As I have said many times before, an actor needs his director to fall in love with him and Branagh gives Hemsworth the glow of stardom in every scene he’s in. Well, as a theatre director, Branagh knows how to get a performance out of his main object of desire.

There will not only be a THOR franchise, but Branagh has redefined what a teen heartthrob should look like – no delicate, troubled youth confused about his sexual impulses.
How boring is life on Earth? Well, we get a look at dreary life without gods and goddesses, by being introduced to astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), assistant Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and Dr. Erik Sevig (Stellan Skarsgard). They are in the New Mexico desert studying atmospheric disturbances. Jane has a theory about a wormhole or a bridge to another universe.

Luckily, we quickly move to the glorious golden world of Asgard, inhabited by a race of people who once walked the Earth and then left leaving Mankind to think of them as gods to be worshipped. They find this hilarious.

Thor (Hemsworth) is the hot-headed son of Asgard’s king, Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Odin’s presumed heir, Thor’s older brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), has been passed over to take the throne. Thor’s celebratory ascendancy is marred by an attack by their enemies, the Frost Giants. Thor wants to mount an attack on them in reprisal, so he gathers his posse: Sif (Jaimie Alexander), Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (Josh Dallas), and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano). Off they go flying through a portal to the ice kingdom of Jotunheim, ruled by the giant Laufey (Colm Feore). King Odin is not amused; in fact, he might have said, as Commodus famously said in GLADIATOR, “It vexes me. I’m terribly vexed.”

Odin must mount his horse and go through the portal to bring back Thor and his warriors and asks Laufey for a truce. Odin doesn’t mention rebuilding Jotunheim. Angry at Thor, Odin banishes him to Earth without his ceremonial wardrobe and his mighty, too heavy hammer, Mjolnir. Odin puts a condition on the hammer, so Thor has to work on his sensitivity issues.

Where are the women of Asgard?

So Thor lands on the hood of Jane’s SUV. Back on humdrum Earth, Jane is slightly amused by Thor, while Darcy acknowledges just how hot Thor is. Thor doesn’t answer many scientific questions – that is clearly not his strong suit – but Dr. Erik figures out that Thor is the real deal rendered over time as a Norse myth.

Thor has to find his Mojo – I mean his Mjolnir!

The entire production is gorgeous and somehow Branagh brings emotional context to the story. And it certainly helps that Thor wears royal robes and not a jumpsuit.

I prefer Thor on Asgard and his evil brother Loki is a first class villain. Why not spin him off? Don’t villains need understanding? After all, Loki had a tough childhood, especially since his faux-mother (Rene Russo) and faux-father clearly favoured big, beautiful blond Thor.

The production is first-rate and magical. But why is New Mexico so ugly? I lived in Santa Fe for a few years and not all of it is barren desert. There are the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains.

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