Saturday, April 14, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Thor

Thor was a 2011 theatrical release that is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Of all the recent Marvel movies, Thor was perhaps the biggest gamble. The script had to find just the right balance between being true to the comics and Norse mythology and still somehow have interesting characters that the audience can relate to. I think, for the most part, the film pulled it off, perhaps tilted a little heavily toward the Norse mythology end. For the average moviegoer, I'm sure there are way too many hard to say names in this movie. Jotenheim and Mjolnir being just the tip of the iceberg.

That being said, the film diffuses much of the ridiculousness of the concept by having the characters address it head-on. Jane Foster and her associates continually call Thor crazy and/or delusional and discuss how absurd the situation is. This, of course, leads to quite a few humorous sequences that are actually funny. Since Jane and her crew play such an important role in the film but don't really enter the action until about 1/3 of the way through, I thought it was brilliant storytelling to start with Thor falling to Earth and then rewind the clock. Likewise, it was very cool to see the teaser at the end of the Hulk paying off in the middle of the Thor movie. I'm impressed with how tight the producers were able to keep the continuity between the Avengers films. Basically, major portions of Thor, Hulk, and Iron Man 2 happen simultaneously and the careful viewer can pick up on the clues. It's also nice to see cross references like when Colston mentions Stark or when Dr. Selvig mentions a certain gamma expert he knows.

Thor's character progression comes across as natural and sincere. Chris Hemsworth, who played Thor, really shows a true range of emotion. His scenes with Natalie Portman are light and humorous at times and other times charged with romantic tension. He does a great job of portraying Thor's despair.

As for the rest of the characters, the casting was spot-on and the cast is top notch. All of the supporting cast retained their distinctive personalities from the comics. I most enjoyed Odin's all-knowing, manipulative wisdom and I thought the filmmakers did a great job of taking the ridiculous character of Volstagg and making him relatable. Loki's character is amazingly nuanced and subtle. As a viewer, it's difficult to discern what is the truth and what is lies. I was, however, a bit disappointed at the intro Hawkeye had. He didn't even fire an arrow!

The action sequences in the film come across as being a little flat and rehearsed but, surprisingly (for a comic book super hero movie), there's enough going on with the characters that you don't mind the lack of compelling action.

All in all, a well balanced success!

1LR Review - 17 out of 20 - It's a Hit!

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