The Might Thor

Spouse and I walked down to our downtown cinema to see Thor on Saturday.  We opted for plain 2-D. It was pretty clear which scenes would be breathtaking in immersive 3-D, but the film is entertaining and beautiful in flatland version, too. 

Kenneth Branaugh did a fine job of directing, bringing just enough comic book sensibility to the screen.  Like the original Ironman, the movie bit off just enough story, not more than it could chew.  Thor’s character development is credible within this time-frame, and the arc of the villain is plausible.  The movie has a complex villain worthy of hero, and worthy of the special effects. 

Casting-wise, this is an interesting mix of new talent and award-nominee heavy-weights, with Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Rene Russo looking elegant and politician’s-wife-like as Frigga, and Natalie Portman doing a fine job as Jane, a geo-physicist. (Yes, I know in the comic-book she was a nurse.  That wouldn’t have worked here.  Get over it.)  Chris Helmsworth, who isn’t exactly an unknown, navigates the thunder god’s rough road to maturity in a naturalistic way that convinced me he should get his hammer back.  Tom Hiddleston as Loki, however, was compelling, giving a layered and emotionally piercing performance, which is good news for the continued franchise.  

In Asgard, Thor has four warrior friends, and I had that annoying experience of going, “I know who that is. . . who is it?” every time the big eater would show up or speak.  Thank goodness for!  That was the actor who played Pullo in the HBO series Rome. 

The elements of this movie balance.  The Asgard and wormhole scenes do not overpower, although they are stunning. The action sequences are broken up appropriately with quiet moments and humor, and little bits of homely life as when Thor carries home Eric after a few too many in the local bar. Hemsdale plays Thor correctly as arrogant and brash, loving and vulnerable, and ultimately honorable. Stellar Skarsgard delivers a disciplined, understated performance as Eric, and it’s easy to take the character for granted and not see how much he powers the earth portion of the plot. 

SHIELD is appropriately ambiguous here.  They are the good guys, doing a bad thing, and doing it in a calm professional way that makes them annoying.  Perfect call! In Thor, the shadowy government group (who truly are good guys) do not have to be stupid to make the plot work.  I appreciated that.

Special effects range from pretty to stunning.  Like any big effects/action movie, I have several plot quibbles that occurred to me after I left the theater (the Odinsleep?  Now?  Really?). While I was watching it, I was conscious only of enjoying it.  The first summer movie of 2011 is two hours of fun and thrills.

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