Thor (2011)


In all my comic book nerdiness I only ever became briefly acquainted with Thor when the character ventured into the realm of the Marvel comic books I did read.  Being that he mainly stuck to his own comic series and to the Avengers, I didn’t see much of him.  I knew only his basic history so when they released the movie version of Thor it was a good opportunity for me to get a crash course on the character without all that tedious reading.  Thor stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, and Kat Dennings.

Way back in the day, king of the Norse gods of Asgard Odin (Anthony Hopkins) laid an epic beating on the Frost Giants of Jotunheim and took their special refrigerator box, the Casket of Ancient Winters.  Much later a few Frost Giants find their way into Asgard somehow to try to steal their box back, just to get annihilated by the Destroyer armor that guarded it.  Well Odin’s son, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) gets all mad and decides to take his buddies; Sif (the chick), Volstagg (the Gimli-lookin’ dude), Fandral (the Robin Hood-lookin’ dude), and Hogun (the Asian); along with his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) into Jotunheim to whoop up on the Frost Giants to put them back in their place, against Odin’s wishes.  Well they succeed in whooping up on some major ass over there but Volstagg gets frostbite on his arm and Fandral takes an ice spike through the chest (but lives) in the process.  Odin rescues them and this breaks the truce between Asgard and Jotunheim.  Odin and Thor get to arguing and Thor gets banished to Midgard (or as we like to call it, Earth) and Odin whispers sweet nothings into the ear of Thor’s mighty hammer, Mjolnir, so that it won’t be able to be lifted by anyone unworthy of it’s power, Excalibur style.  Thor lands in New Mexico and is promptly hit by the car of 2 scientists, astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard, who obviously doesn’t want to hang out on the Dutchman anymore with his son, William), and their assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings).  While they check to make sure he’s okay, he gets up and starts yelling at the sky to let him back into Asgard, so Darcy hits him with a taser.  After he gets friendly with the scientists – and starts towards getting even more friendly with Natalie – he goes to where Mjolnir landed and whoops up on the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that are now studying it, but finds that he’s not worthy of it’s power yet, and then he’s captured.  I don’t know why he couldn’t have just gone to Home Depot and got a claw hammer instead.  But noooooooooooo, it just has to be Mjolnir.  Back on Asgard, Odin reveals to Loki that Loki was actually a baby Frost Giant that he took and raised as his own to hopefully create a peace between the realms, then he gets all narcoleptic and falls into the Odinsleep (which he does to recharge after a long days work).  Loki is then in charge and gets all corrupt and crazy.  Later Thor has to make everything better.

I kind of dug this movie.  I see most comic book movies as breaking into 3 categories: ones that are all around amazing and story-driven (Watchmen), ones that are big dumb action movies but are cool (the second Hulk movie), and ones that are awful (Ghost Rider).  This movie is between story-driven and big dumb action, though much closer to big dumb action.  It has a good story, but I liked it more for the epic battles.  The main story elements are the relationships with Thor, mainly the Thor/Odin, the Thor/Loki, and the Thor/Portman ones.  By the way, if Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman became a couple, I vote for calling them Thortman.  Thor/Odin is a fairly typical father/son dynamic, or more so a king/prince dynamic where the good king wants his spoiled son to grow up to be a good king.  Thor/Loki is a fairly typical brother dynamic where Loki is jealous of Thor and manipulates him into failing so he can overthrow him.  And Thortman is a typical romantic relationship.

The look of the movie is pretty great.  Most of the sets are apparently practical and not CG, so they look good (unlike a mostly CG Green Lantern).  The scale is probably the most epic a comic book movie has ever been, but then contrasted with the least epic real Earth landscape.  It goes from this uber-grandiose Asgard to a very small town in New Mexico.  The full-on double rainbow bridge was also very pretty.  The fights in this movie are pretty good, the best being the whooping laid on the Frost Giants by Thor and his group.  The worst, for me, was the battle with the Destroyer armor.  Thor, still depowered, tries to sacrifice himself to the Destroyer armor in order to save his friends and Jane, and gets killed by the armor for it.  Then, as everyone probably expects, that is the moment Mjolnir decides he’s worthy and it flies over to him and he becomes Thor again.  This part, though entirely predictable, still gave me goosebumps.  But then the battle with the Destroyer armor is pretty quick and anticlimactic.  Block twice, hammer to the face, the end.  The battle with Loki could have drawn out the tension a little better too.

The acting chops of this cast warmed my heart.  I love seeing a comic book movie, that are typically looked down upon by society as “stupid nerd stuff”, get a cast that can elevate the material.  I mean, this movie has Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman, for crying out loud.  Anthony Hopkins does a great job, and Chris Hemsworth manages to hold up his end in scenes with the man.  Kat Dennings part is pretty much being in the background and cracking wise, and she performs it well.  Natalie Portman seemed to kind of take it easy on this picture.  She wasn’t bad or anything, but she wasn’t bringing the Black Swan hustle to it either.  Of course, that probably would’ve been out of place anyway.  All that ballet in the background of fight scenes between gods might be goofy.  I think Tom Hiddleston stood out the most for me as Loki.  He really pulled off the hidden agenda of Loki well, and acted his ass off when it called for it.  And I had never seen this guy before, so I’m looking forward to him coming up again.  Renne Russo as Thor’s mom was a little weird to me.  She’s a big Hollywood name, right?  But in this movie she’s usually just standing around in the background and has one, maybe two, lines in the whole thing.

I liked this movie.  Whether that’s just my comic book nerdiness talking or my movie lover, I can’t say.  I still say it’s worth a watch.  I give this movie a “Not as dumb as I thought” out of “DOUBLE RAINBOW, ALL THE WAY”.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others.  It may help me get better.

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