Continuity with the Marvel (Comic Book) Universe
THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): The mythos of Thor transcends the single point of view seen in Marvel Comics. In fact, I remember seeing “Thor” in a few issues of All-Star Squadron and a few issues of Supreme (DC Comics and Image Comics respectively). The Thor mythos can appear anywhere, but the best known and greatest rendition of him comes from Marvel Comics, where Thor has become a well established and pivotal part of the Marvel Universe. With over forty years of material to build from, I found it interesting that the writers were able to incorporate enough of the history to make the movie true to the character, even if it wasn’t exactly true to the comic book.
ARTH VADER (AV): You know it's kind of fitting that our first-ever posting is this movie. Thor is a first, in many ways. A first for a movie of Marvel's lesser-known heroes. The first obscure hero film to showcase mythology and the first Marvel 3D effort. Marvel (super-hero) movies have produced a mixed bag of results for an array of reasons but I will say I was pleasantly surprised with Thor overall.
AV: Initial thoughts were this movie was going to be a train wreck and while I highly doubt we will be talking about it when the Academy awards come around, Thor did do an admirable job of inserting itself into the new Marvel on-screen continuum. This movie was fun! Additionally, seeing other soon-to-be known heroes, like Hawkeye participate with the story was cool. It was a lot like Iron Man 2's sporting Scarlett Johansson's leather-clad Black Widow, the Thor story is thick with implications. Even the hints of S.H.I.E.L.D. "... carting away a brilliant Gamma Scientist..." whets the appetite nicely, don't you think, Mr.P?
TP: Yes...and I’m hungry for more! The movie stayed true enough to the source material that it didn’t need to be an exact replica of the source. Being cast down to Earth to learn humility while Loki was left to his machinations and schemes of ruling was a perfect “nutshell” of how Thor came to be known as a hero of Earth, as well as what he regularly has to face in dealing with his half brother in the comics...made into his adopted brother in the movie.
Casting, Directing and Acting
ARTH VADER: It's hard to dispute the casting in this movie. While I never tire of seeing V for Vendetta's Evey, ...uh,I mean Padmé Amidala, ... uh I mean Natalie Portman, I didn't quite "get" her role. There is real chemistry between the Black Swan and Thor actor Chris Hemsworth (yes, I'm going back to the gym after this post!), but I don't really grasp her story significance much past that of "love interest." That said, I thought the casting was solid. Hey, let's face it, if you had Reneé Russo and Anthony Hopkins as your parents, you'd be pretty bad-ass, too
THE PONTIFICATOR: The casting for Thor was superb and Chris Helmsworth was a perfect choice for Thor as he was able to play into the role and deliver a believable performance of the arrogant Thunder God thrust into the modern world, having to come to terms with who he is, without the benefit of having access to all he is. Anthony Hopkins delivered a larger-than-life performance as Odin, bringing serious presence to the character. A surprise screen-stealer was Idris Elba as Heimdall, not because he isn’t a great actor...he is, but because of the incredible presence he had on screen was, by all accounts, minor but came through with major force. It wasn’t even worth contending that Heimdall isn’t black in the source material.
|Thor, Odin, and Loki|
AV: For me even the casting of Loki worked. A somewhat unknown actor to me, Tom Hiddleston, was a solid God of mischief. That's probably a good thing given his role in coming movies. The casting of Jamie Alexander as the sultry SIF gets a solid ... uh... thumbs up and the comedy relief of the Warriors Three was terrific. Best of all, Stan Lee's cameo is classic!
THE PONTIFICATOR: The special effects for Thor were excellent. I saw the movie in 3D and although I don’t think it took full advantage of all three dimensions, the movie looked visually incredible. I was ducking for cover during the Captain America preview when Cap threw his shield at me (and I suppose the whole audience, but I was too busy ducking) and I expected many such similar experiences when Thor threw his hammer. Oh well..maybe next time.
|A high-flying Lady Sif attacks The Destroyer|
TP: They had comics when you were a kid Arth? After reading hundreds of Thor comic books, I can say, unequivocally, that Asgard looks a million times better on the silver screen than it ever did in the books. The visuals of Asgard are absolutely stunning and positively breathtaking. The realm eternal stood out, and then stood even further when juxtaposed with small town USA. I had some trepidation about the costumes as I pictured them among regular people in the modern setting, but seeing Asgard put everything in perspective as the costumes fit perfectly with the visual cascade of awesomeness that was Asgard. By the time the costumes made their way to Earth, it was too late...they had already garnered a sense of belonging and had gained acceptance despite the setting.
|A frozen Heimdall and two Frost Giants|
Taking a deeper look
ARTH VADER: Thor does have it's shortcomings to be sure. The Hollywood-esque dialogue and ongoing attempts at an implied sense of impending doom is never quite realized, let alone fully explained.
THE PONTIFICATOR: I think movies that display a healthy and balanced mix of drama, comedy and action often do the best in theaters since such a movie has something for everyone. It appeals to a broader audience and, if done correctly, makes for a movie that borders on perfection. I think it’s a fabulous formula when applied to a super hero movie. Thor had a great deal of action, especially in the beginning and had a good deal of drama as it explored the relationship between Thor and Jane Foster as well as Thor and the troubled relationship he had with father, Odin. It also was not lacking in the comedy, although none of these were in equal amounts, the comedy was sharp and came at just the right times in the movie to send you off into out-loud laughter and create the illusion of a near perfect movie.That said, yes Vader...I disagree with your misgivings.
AV: Hmm. Well, to each his own, Ponty. While Thor is a solid movie and a much better experience than I would have thought (at least given initial reviews), I did have a hard time following the story. The very transparent movie-studio pacing was a little annoying for me. Also, the lack of anyone else even speaking in Asgard beyond Thor, his family and friends, made the "Realm Eternal" seem like a giant stage for fun and the happy-go-lucky mishaps for him and his buds. This ultimately makes Asgard feel fabricated, cold and not very interesting. I would almost want to horse around with the Frost giants' realm than hang in Asgard.
Looking ahead: Sequels
THE PONTIFICATOR: It’s usually easy to watch a movie and see exactly where there is room for improvement. Those improvements can come by way of story, actor, casting, directing and special effects. With Thor, looking for the flaws and exploring for the gaps that, when filled, would make for a better movie is no easy task. The fanboy in me can look at every single point where the movie diverged from the comic book and say “ah ha”...but making those “corrections” in most cases would detract from the movie, not improve it. The only real improvement that could be made is to lose the tight camera angle for fight sequences...and that goes for all movies, not just this one.
|Hammer Buds: Thor & Beta Ray Bill|
TP: We are told that we will see Thor next in the upcoming Avengers movie...but that will not be my topic of discussion for the next thought on a sequel...I’ll let that movie stand on its own. I will say that with so much comic history and so many stories and characters in the Thor mythos as Marvel Comics has presented it, I would frown upon seeing Loki in a Thor sequel that follows this movie...especially with Loki playing a key role, it seems, in the Avengers movie.
AV:The world (or rather the nine worlds) of Thor are vast. He has not only withstood the test of time (Stan "The man" Lee & Jack ""King" Kirby brought him to life in 1962) but in that nearly half century, Thor has amassed a huge cache of source material (can you say "Beta Ray Bill"?) and is a ripe, rich character with many villains, concurrent story lines and history. If I catch Ulik The Untammed, even in an unofficial script. I'll plotz!
|The Executioner and Enchantress|
That all said, it’s become a tradition to see the Stan Lee cameo...and that should continue...:-)
ARTH VADER Rates Thor: Well put, P man! So, final analysis – would I recommend Thor? You bet your Uru hammer I would! Fun story, great casting, decent effects and enough visual and fanboy in-jokes to last until Ragnarok, Thor is a movie for the whole family and delivers the action, even to unfamiliar audiences.
THE PONTIFICATOR rates Thor: Thor is a thoroughly enjoyable movie that took nothing away from the source material and brought much of it to vibrant life in spectacular fashion. The story was fantastic and told with excellent acting and stunning visuals and was presented in a format that mixed well enough to have something for everyone. This makes Thor a movie that has range, re-watchability and mass appeal earning it a healthy rating... of seven and a half, out of ten blocks busted.
AV: An overall colorful and fun – if not a little hokey – movie-going experience, I give Thor a solid eight Busted Blocks.