Hey, what did the beat-up boxer say when his trainer asked him how he was feeling?
So Thor‘s out on DVD and Blu-Ray today. My review was pretty funny, if I do say so myself. And I do. “So myself.” Anyway. Thor. Let’s go back there together, shall we?’
Here’s what I liked about Thor:
They had to change up Thor’s costume. They couldn’t have gone with the winged helmet and the yellow hooker boots. But that giant robot thing? That’s the Destroyer. And if you look at the above pictures, you’ll see that it looks a whole lot like the way Jack Kirby first drew it, almost fifty years ago. That’s pretty cool. The reason that most of us who grew up on superhero comics love them so much has almost everything to do with the drawings of Jack Kirby, the guy who created the looks of most of the most famous superhero comic characters. Kirby’s drawings STILL leap off the page. They have a sense of weight and a kineticism, a strange energy, that remains just as effective today.
And somebody at Marvel (and Paramount) had the good sense to not mess with Kirby’s vision too much. How cool is it that, nearly fifty years later, we’re seeing a Jack Kirby character on the big screen, looking much the way that Kirby first designed it? I’ll answer that. It’s extremely cool.
To me, it’s so extremely weird that a major summer movie was made from one of the most esoteric of 1960s Marvel Comics that I can’t help but embrace it. Thor was always one of my least favorite Marvel characters, but in my opinion this is as good a Thor movie as we could reasonably expect.
Here’s the Thor story really quick:
The world of Thor supposes that the characters of Norse mythology exist in our dimension as super-powered extraterrestrial beings. Thor, the arrogant god of thunder, grows up alongside his half-brother Loki, the god of mischief, under their father, the all-powerful Odin. Thor’s impetuousness sees him exiled by Odin, powerless, to Earth, where he has to prove his worthiness before he can lift his mighty hammer and wield the power of Thor.
Basically, that’s all here. Chris Hemsworth plays Thor, and what I like about the character here is that Thor starts out as a total dick. I like when he yells at an army of approaching Frost Giants (as much a Robert E. Howard notion as an ancient Norse one), I like when he does the whirling-hammer trick that you see on that Kirby cover up above, and I like that he gets Tasered by a flighty college student when he’s stuck powerless on Earth. Hemsworth is good, even if he’s hardly the most interesting character in the movie.
More interesting is Tom Hiddleston as Loki, who gets several more notes to play as a character who starts out as a friend to Thor and becomes his main antagonist – although the way it plays out, there are some real and almost understandable reasons why.
I also liked Anthony Hopkins as Odin, maybe because in his early scenes he looks like Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn.
At this point it’s a pretty generic idea to cast Hopkins in this kind of a role, but again the weirdness of the setting makes it more interesting than it could have been. I like the scene where he goes into a strange hibernation that all the characters call “the Odinsleep.” I’d love to start referring to my own need for napping as “the Jonnysleep.”
I liked Thor’s buddies, Lady Sif and the Warriors Three. I liked Sif (Jaimie Alexander) because she’s pretty, I liked Fandral (Josh Dallas) because it was fun trying to figure out whether or not he was played by Matthew Modine, and I liked Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) because I honestly couldn’t tell that he was Ray Stevenson until his second or third scene. And yes, I liked the big cameo, as a Marvel Comics zombie in recovery. It was a blatant plug for the upcoming Avengers movie, but it almost makes sense.
I also liked Natalie Portman in this movie, and I really liked Stellan Skarsgard, as her very skeptical coworker who eventually becomes a believer. It’s nice to have solid supporting players who can help a skeptical audience member like me start to take more seriously a truly ridiculous premise.
And Idris Elba, forever The Wire’s Stringer Bell, grounds some of the most ridiculous moments of all, as the guardian over the bridge between Earth and the world of the gods. My man literally stands in front of a rainbow bridge (sounds like something Prince would sing about), in a helmet that’s taller than I am, and somehow manages to remain a convincing badass. Let us remember him at years’ end for Great Achievements In Badassness.
Is this a great movie? No. No, it is not. For one thing, it has more distracting product placement than just about any movie in recent memory. (I understand that this movie was a tough sell and they needed all the ad revenue they could get, but still: I got contact-high brain-freeze from all the 7-11 logos on hand.) More damningly, Kenneth Branagh’s direction inexplicably has more Dutch angles than any movie ever should. Thor has more Dutch angles than Citizen Kane, though, to be fair, less than Battlefield Earth. Why so many Dutch angles? Was it some misunderstanding, considering all the Norse references at hand? It’s really distracting, and pretty corny. And the same issues that plagued Iron Man 2, where Marvel Studios is working too hard to shoehorn subplots for the upcoming Avengers movie into all of its movies, are present here, though not quite as distractingly as in Iron Man 2.
Overall, I enjoyed Thor, and way more than I ever thought I would. As is very clear by now, I grew up as a big fan of Marvel Comics. I don’t remotely have the same passion nowadays, but I can still enjoy a decent comic-book flick when they come around. Thor to me is like when I was living in my most voracious comic-book reading phase – it’s not a character I care much about, and it isn’t the best comic story ever told, but it’s a solid enough detour from my regular reading habits. I may rather be reading about Spider-Man and Batman, but since I’ve already read their best stories over and over, this is an okay change of pace.
Seriously guys, follow me on Twitter already. This all happens there too.
Me on Twitter: @jonnyabomb