Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thor - TheAnimationEmpire Movie Review

Thor was very good. I ended up seeing it twice in the theater (once in 3D and once without).

I kind of find it funny how, on the poster above, they have to write Thor twice just to show you that you're looking at the actual Thor character. They don't think people would know that.

I have to admit that Thor felt like two movies that were threaded together (one in Asgard and one on Earth). It also seemed that it would be hard to really make a villain that could give Thor a real fight (he's basically Superman: awesome, invincible, and he flies). In addition, I wasn't sure what kind of special effects they'd give us when his weapon is a big hammer.

Plus they had the additional challenge of making a Norse god relevant and interesting to us. And then they added another challenge by placing a relatively new actor into the title role (Chris Hemsworth, who was James Kirk's dad in the Star Trek reboot). And they added one more challenge to the plate by giving the movie to the director, Kenneth Branagh. It kind of fit... he's a Shakespearean director (and other period pieces), but he hadn't had a ton of success as a director yet and it had been many years since his last directorial effort.

Despite all the challenges and potential potholes, Thor was an amazing movie.

They made it more successful than X-Men: First Class (another attempt at establishing new-ish Marvel heroes in the same summer).

Here are the reasons why I think it was such a good movie:

1. Chris Hemsworth nailed Thor. You can't always get established actors. Sometimes the best actors aren't known yet, but they're so good that the movie makes them known. This is one of those roles. Chris morphed into Thor and nailed the cocky yet fun-loving attitude. This is on the same level as Hugh Jackman making Wolverine, Chris Evans making Human Torch in Fantastic Four (which he has leveraged to become Captain America as well), and Ryan Reynolds as DeadPool in X-Men: Wolverine (which led to Green Lantern and a coming DeadPool movie).

2. It's funny and clever. All the characters provide the right mix of humor, and the references to mythical elements are also clever, like an effets-driven update to the Rainbow Bridge and to all the characters and power items. I also appreciate the Hawkeye reference. I wasn't too excited about the actor (he doesn't seem impressive enough), but my friend assured me that he's great (and id a great job in The Hurt Locker).

3. The romance story works well. Due to #1 above and #5 below, Thor and Portman have great chemistry together. And the romance is brought to life even more, due to the humor and cleverness from #2 above.

4. The mythical world is brought to life with effects and superb directing. I really felt drawn into the world. The whole Ice Giants thing was a little silly to me, but they dealt with the mythology and the comic books in a realistic way, and thus, I still felt like it could be real. Which is kind of the point... even when something obviously isn't real, they want to present it as if it was real and get you involved in that world. They did it. The effects were amazing and highly... effective. Specifically, the battle sequences, monsters, giants, ice world, rainbow bridge... even the size differences of some of the characters... it all brought to life the idea of this world where talismans and other powers make warriors into gods.

5. The cast supports it well. Natalie Portman as a super hero love interest is a great catch. Her friends support well (Norah without her playlist). Anthony Hopkins is the ideal Odin. Renee Russo supports well (in a few shots). Our SHIELD agent friend does a great job (as usual), and even Loki is spot on. Thor's warrior friends are fun (though underused). We even get to see an enjoyable glimpse of Hawkeye (though he hasn't yet proven why he should be an Avenger).

And that's pretty much it. Congrats to everyone involved. They brought us the right mix of romance, humor, story, and effects. So far, it's the most succesful summer super hero film, beating out Green Lantern, X-Men First Class, and Priest (Captain America is TBD). The film has made (to date) $176 million in the US, with $435 million worldwide. That's a good haul for a new hero flick.

The Foreign box office take was particularly high ($259 million) and is comparable to Iron Man ($266 million) and higher than X-Men 3 ($225 M) and X-Men 2 ($192 M).

Overall with $435 M worldwide, Thor beat X-Men 2 ($408 M), X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($373 M), X-Men 1 ($296 M), Fantastic Four ($331 M), Incredible Hulk ($263 M), X-Men First Class ($286 M), and Ghost Rider ($229 M).

Thor's one of those Superman-like heroes who's basically invincible. So they need to find ways to make him vulnerable and real. In this film, they kind of cheated by taking away his powers (which is the usual way Superman is attacked... Kriptonite steals his powers). It's kind of an annoying cheat, really. Once Thor finally earned his hammer back, then it was pretty much game over for Loki and the Defender.

So hopefully they'll think of better ways to make him vulnerable than to cheat like that. "Either all or nothing" is not an entertaining way for him to fight villains. And if he's going to be in a sequel and in the Avengers movie, then they need him to fight villains who are at least as powerful as he is with his powers (maybe even a little more powerful than him).

The Hulk could work in Avengers (the Hulk could beat Thor), but I'm not sure what they want to do with Hulk (make him good, bad, or both).

Oh and in Disney news, Avengers will be the first Disney produced Marvel movie! Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2, and


- The Emperor

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