Monday, May 23, 2011

Exfanding Review: Thor

Well, despite claims to the contrary this weekend, it looks like we all made it to Monday morning. Not sure how you spent your End of the World, but I decided to go to the movies.

I managed to carve out a couple of hours late Saturday where I didn't have to do, well, much of anything, really, so I figured I should be a good geek and finally go see Thor.

I'd talked to a few friends that had seen the flick, and I'd listened in on some comics shop talk about the movie, and I'd checked out a few spoiler-free reviews online, and everyone seemed to really dig it.

And, despite seeing films with large groups of (loud) people, I knew Thor was a film I'd prefer to see in the theaters. And so, with the End of All Things looming over us, we drove out to a 6:45 showing at a little theater north of my hometown.

And, really, what better movie to see on the Day the World Would End than Thor? You know, what with that whole Ragnarok thing the Asgardians are always talking about.

Now, Thor wasn't a character I followed that closely growing up, but I've recently read quite a bit of the classic Marvel Thor stories, and I have a fondness for the character, and for his world.

I tend to like epic-y things, and stories with fantasy elements, so Thor contains concepts that are right up my alley. Plus, I guess my weekly viewing of HBO's new Game of Thrones series put me in the mood for some Asgardian shenanigans.

So let's get to it.

I thought Chris Hemsworth nailed Thor, and about half an hour into the flick, when Thor is in a SHIELD facility, I remember thinking, "Wow. This guy is Thor." I loved the fish out of water take on the character, and the classic Stan Lee "Thor-speak" in the modern world.

Anthony Hopkins, as always, brought a level of class and refinement to the movie, and delivers a strong performance as Odin. Natalie Portman was very much underused; I mean, she's an Oscar winner. Still, I think she did a good job taking a very one-dimensional-on-paper character and making her into something more than that.

But it's Loki who steals the show. And it's Loki who should steal the show.

Tom Hiddleston did an exceptional job in his turn playing Loki, Thor's mischievous brother. As with any comic book-to-film adaptation, the villain's the thing, and if the villain isn't done right, the whole movie falls apart.

Hiddleston's portrayal kept things together, and was in turn funny, heartbreaking, and downright evil.

Which is exactly how Loki should be. A tragic figure of his own creation, Loki is the Trickster, the liar, the silver-tongued. Odin has both done wrong by him, and has been unquestionably loving towards him. Still, it is not in Loki's nature to just...let things be.

Hiddleston is convincing in his lies, and his is the role that drives the plot along.

The story itself was well told, crisp, and a whole lot of fun. Sure, things blowed up real good, and it was a blast to see the home of the Frost Giants, but there was an actual story behind it all.

So, final verdict time.

I went in with high hopes, and I came out with high praise. Honestly, I think Thor is my favorite of the Marvel movies. I loved the first Spider-Man, but 2 and 3 didn't do much for me, other than they were a lot of fun to look at.

And the first Iron Man was an exceptional super hero movie, but my enjoyment of it was affected by The Dark Knight, which I actually saw first. For me, The Dark Knight ruined--and continues to ruin--many a super hero flick because I just can't imagine a better film about one of these characters.

And Thor is certainly not The Dark Knight, but it is an incredible translation of comic-to-screen. More than that, though, it's a good film. A fun summer movie, sure, but there's some very cool stuff here, and some interesting plot development, character moments, and, perhaps most exciting for comics fans, world building.

If you haven't yet seen Thor, make sure to stick around after the credits, because this film very clearly lays the foundations for the next Marvel movies. I still can't get my head wrapped around the fact that we now have a shared universe of Marvel characters in theaters, but, man, is it cool.

So, yeah. Thor rocked. Go see it.

No comments: