The epic adventure âThorâ spans the Marvel Universe from present day Earth to the mystical realm of Asgard. At the center of the story is The Mighty Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. As a result, Thor is banished to Earth, where he is forced to live among humans. When the most dangerous villain of his world sends its darkest forces to invade Earth, Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero. âThorâ is the tale of one man's mythic journey: from a petulant prince born to inherit the throne, to a humble super hero who earns the right to lead.
THOR! There is something about the word which makes you want to say it very loudly, and with a great amount of enthusiasm. By the end of same named film you may also feel the need to scream his name, rejoice in the spectacle that is Thor
, while realizing it has been a long time since a "superhero" movie was worthy of such praise.
Based on Marvel's Thor
, the movie Thor
is not entirely an origin story, even if it supplies a great deal of information on the past and a very brief look at Thor as a child. But no, this movie is centered around Thor (Chris Hemsworth) learning to be a worthy leader, as he will inherit the throne from his father, King Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins). For Thor is a vain, egotistical, arrogant, and blood hungry young man. He lacks the proper amount of reasoning and temperament to be King. Not all of his qualities are negative, as he is very loyal and trustworthy, and of course an excellent warrior, sidled with his trusty Hammer, but he must grow as a man in order to lead a people, and protect them.
The decision to visit the enemy world of the Frost Giants, a people who have had a truce with Thor's Asgard since the great wars, Thor's cocky and overly assertive manner gets him and his fellow warriors into a great deal of trouble. He has ashamed his family by his actions and in one of the most affecting scenes of the film Hopkins' Odin banishes Thor from Asgard, and strips him of his powers until he becomes worthy again. The destination Thor finds himself in is on Earth, in a town reminiscent of the old west one-road towns in the middle of nowhere New Mexico. It is here he meets, by pure comical genius writing of a scene and performances, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Jane is a scientist who studies the strange anomaly that happen in the sky; and while it is hard to believe she has come across a God from another world the reality does eventually set-in; after quite a few humorous moments between her and her fellow co-workers Darcy (Kat Dennings) and Professor Andrews (Stellan Skarsgard).
This is what makes Thor
such an entertaining movie to watch. It plays with the dramatic and the comedic. Thor finds himself on Earth but he does not immediately realize his powers have been taken from him. Nor does he understand the customs or culture--he walks into a pet store requesting a horse! It is this fish-out-of-water scenario that lends a softer, more jovial side to the film. It is packed with enough action, enough evil brother shenanigans, plenty of jaw-dropping special effects, and does not skimp on showing the amazing power of Thor himself. By rounding out the story with the humor, and the romance with Jane, Thor
feels like more than a one-note superhero movie. It becomes more appealing to a wide range of audiences. Everyone loves a hero, but a hero with a bit of heart and soul is even better (with muscles as an added bonus).
is not without its faults, and it does take some dedicated analysis to find them because all you really want is to praise the film for being so much fun to watch. The characters are very under-developed and while the performances are spot on there could have been more depth afforded to each. Many of the characters feel like they are dying to say more, or have more to do, but the opportunity is never afforded them. The great western-style shoot out shot scenes in the film may be the weakest of all. The great Destroyer sent to earth to kill Thor is overwhelming and deadly, but the scene feels hurried, and on a smaller scale than what occurs in Asgard or on the Frost Giants planet Jotunheim. The plot has its share of holes, all following a very large twist near the beginning of the film involving Thor's brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Then there is the ending, in the final battle, where a piece of information that surely should have been revealed is not, making the climax not as climactic as one would hope. But, it is what it is, and it cannot be said that it is by any means a less than gratifying ending. Plus, with the inevitable sequels, it is certain that these forgotten or overlooked details will make their way into the script.
Would I watch Thor
again? Definitely. It is everything a Summer movie should be, and even a little more.
The Rainbow Bridge--by far the most anticipated and important element of the production design in Thor
. Created via CGI and good old fashioned production designing it is a spectacular creation. With colors floating through the nearly digital landscape it sparkles, radiates light, and all while floating amid the sky. The aerial views looking down upon it, with the Observatory at the end, invoke a sense of dreamy sensationalism. There is no disappointment in the Rainbow Bridge, or any of the special effects of the film. It is important to know though that much of the film's sets were actually built (in Manhattan Beach, CA to be exact), and designed by four time Oscar-Nominated Production Designer Bo Welch. If you are expecting a completely green-screened created world you will be sorry, while at the same time thrilled at how spectacular everything looks because it is real
. Having a tangible set makes for better performances, richer camerawork, and some credibility as to the suspension of disbelief that Asgard, the planet Jotunheim of the Frost Giants, and even this small New Mexico town exist in this filmic reality.
is very much a visual film, using tricks of light and nature influenced occurrences to create the different worlds. Asgard is a shining, ethereal, god-worthy place with a glittering palace atop lush mountains surrounded by beautiful mist and water. The sweeping movement of the camera as it takes you into Asgard hinders your breath for a moment as your eyes take in the majestic beauty. In stark contrast is the planet Jotunheim. The dark ice-covered home of the Frost Giants is striking, but also desolate by design. These are a people who have lost their source of power, and are confined to the dreary darkness of their land. Lastly, with Earth, we have Earth. The New Mexico desert is the back drop and it is as uneventful looking as it sounds. With the production design rooted in the old west it appeals as the place for Thor to be placed because it is vast and unobtrusive. Thor in a big city would have been too much on top of Asgard and Jotunheim, making for a busy mess. This small town works perfectly for this larger than life God to find himself, literally and figuratively, as well as poking fun at the myths of our culture and Area 51 (Thor is technically an alien, God or not).
Now, the Frost Giant Monster is CGI, same for other creations here and there and effects used in all three worlds. It is the blending of the real sets and the special effects that make the film much more rich in its production design and special effects. These are two areas that must blend well together to create a spectacular synthesis on screen. In Thor
they do just that, giving the viewer an adventure story that is stunning and exhilarating to watch.
Interested is seeing images from the special effects and production design of the film? Visit our Tumblr page here
and take a look.
In the world of comic book movies there is a very fine line on whether they will go towards the camp, or remain grounded in the dramatic, with the much needed bouts of humor. Kenneth Branagh does not deliver a film that is anywhere near campy--even if the trailer may make you doubt this fact. His handling of Thor, the character, is with bravado but also sensitivity. King Odin, with all of his great power, does not feel ridiculously over-excited. Loki, Thor's brother who would like nothing more than to gain power and respect, performs his evil-doings as well as any actor on the stage. It is these three characters that could have easily broken the film had they not been directed so well, and had the actors not given performances that were kept in line with the general tone Branagh was going for with the film. His resulting direction, characters and story included, is a great achievement in comic book adaptation filmmaking.
Now about that 3-D?
Let's admit it, 3-D is a hit or miss property--and it usually misses. Branagh remarked at the press conference in Los Angeles for the film that he wanted to be completely sure that the use of 3-D would not disrupt the visuals of the film. Most notably, the changes in depth of field that can occur that cause the blur, and subsequent headaches for a viewer. This dedication to maintaining the quality of a 2-D picture in 3-D was completely successful; and he commented on how much research he did to make sure it would be. The direction he took, with cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos, made for a 3-D picture that does not contain blurred scenes, or headache inducing changes in spatiality. Branagh proves that a 3-D film can be a success if you have a strong enough director, with a very informed and educated vision.
The lingering question as to why Kenneth Branagh, with such an esteemed body of work that has focused on the Classics, Shakespeare, and Greek tragedy, would want to make a movie such as Thor is answered by film's end. Branagh navigates the delicate balance of comedy and drama that exists in the Thor story without falling prey to campiness or heightened dramatization. He has directed a film that is serious, but not heavy, visually stunning with a strong hold on realness, comical but never self- deprecating, and overall a pleasure to watch. In case you are not aware, the Thor story is rooted in mythology and shakespearian elements, so perhaps Branagh was a perfect fit to begin with after all. At the press conference for the film Branagh was asked a very similar question to the one posed above, his answer "The scale of the undertaking couldn't help but make you feel occasionally that--you know, it was--it was very, very challenging, but that was part of what was attractive. And people sometimes ask me, âWell how did you--how did you do it?â And I say, âHave you seen the credits at the end, there's seven minutes of 'em. You see all of those names? That's how I did it.". With this answer you have to respect Branagh even more, for not only did he lead the team of Thor incredibly well but he also realizes it would not have been possible without the help of the hundreds of crew members and cast.
See Special Effects.
Action and Adventure, Science Fiction, Fantasy
May 6, 2011