Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thor (First Impressions) (Movie Reviews)

              Thor” is the first in a trilogy of Marvel comic adapted movies to come out this summer (the other two being “X-Men: First Class” & “Captain America: The First Avenger”). Of the three, I was least excited about Thor, he just wasn’t one of my favorite characters to come from Marvel. He certainly isn’t one of the worst (like Hulk or Punisher) and I’ve enjoyed some of his animated movies like “Hulk vs. Thor” and “Thor: Legends of Asgard” but he was still far from being as cool as the X-Men or Spider-Man, however, that all changed when I saw this movie. This film was a million times better than I expected, it was so much fun, smart and it was a great way to start the summer. If you look at my updated list of all live action Marvel adapted movies from this decade, then you’ll notice it sits at number 4 out of 24, that’s how awesome it was. Now of course I’m looking at this from the perspective of a comic book adapted movie but if you view this as just a movie, then it’s far from perfect and if you’re someone who nit-picks things to death then you really shouldn’t see this film. I went in with a completely open mind, sat back and just accepted what the film had to offer, and for that, I had an absolute blast at the theater. Two of my favorite movies ever are “Spider-Man 2” and the first “X-Men”, both of these are nowhere near solid masterpieces but they did drop the ball with how great an adapted comic book movie can be. I’m very proud to say that “Thor” joins the ranks of one of my favorite comic book adapted films. So what made this film so great, well, let’s begin with the story.
    The plot goes like this, do to Thor’s reckless, over protective attitude and lust for war, he causes conflict between the people of Asgard and the realm of the ice people (trust me, there cooler than they sound). Do to his actions, he’s been banished to Earth and striped of his power until he learns of his mistake and matures to be a better person, fit to rule as a king. The plot goes even deeper than this, especially with the character Loki but I don’t want to spoil too much. The character structure for Thor is really strong and the casting is equally fantastic. Chris Hemsworth is perfect as Thor and he just brings this character to life the same way Hugo Jackman brought “Wolverine” to life or the same way Robert Downey Jr. brought “Iron Man” to life. One of the films biggest strengths are the characters, you latch on to every one of them, each conveys genuinely human emotion and drama, I actually wish the film could have been longer just to give these characters more depth and development. Anthony Hopkins gives his usual great performance in the role of Odin and I absolutely loved Natalie Portman in the role of Jane Foster. This could easily be my favorite performance of hers, I loved her energy, her hi spirited nature, liked her relation with Thor and I especially loved how she didn’t fall victim to the time warn damsel in distress cliché. Usually, girl friends are only there for the hero’s to rescue them, thankfully, Jane is a character that can hold her own and is never in need of rescuing.  I especially liked how much more heroic these people are, there’s a scene with an awesome giant robot attacking a town and unlike in the “Transformers” movies where they just run around, these people try to help everyone around them as well as come up with a strategy to take down the robot. It’s a team effort, some distract it while the rest evacuate the citizens.     
     Not only is the cast perfect but the director, Kenneth Branagh is also outstanding. I was a little concerned when I heard he was the director, I haven’t seen any of the films he’s directed but I’ve always enjoyed him as an actor, he was a lot of fun as Miguel in “The Road to Eldorado”, he was also a lot of fun as the villain Dr. Arliss Loveless in “Wild Wild West” and I absolutely loved him has Gilderoy Lockhart in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”. But I didn’t think he’d be that good of a director, boy was I wrong. He was the perfect director for this movie, and did an amazing job capturing the sheer epic scope of Thor’s mythical size. Honestly, I had a great time just looking at this film, I loved the costumes, the sets, statues, colors and the visual effects were just sensational. That says I lot considering all the impressive looking films that have recently come out, like “Avatar”, “The Matrix” and the “Transformers” movies. Not only did the effects look great but they really brought this Kingdome to life, and they never over shadowed the characters or the story. It never feels like there’s too much CG, it has its limits. For example, there’s those awesome ice creatures with red eyes and blue skin, they could have been CG creatures, instead their actors in awesome makeup. The action is great but it’s not jaw dropping, like I said in many of my Batman reviews, you get so attached to the characters and the situation at hand that it feels just as exciting as any big and explosive action flick. This film also has a fun sense of hummer and wit, when it was time to laugh, I got some genuine laughs without all the jokes getting as stupid as they did in the “Fantastic Four” movies. Make sure you stay till the end of the credits, because there’s something very important at the end. One small complaint is that this film makes the same mistake “Batman Begins” made by not showing the title in the opening, we get this amazing title shot at the end but it was mid way through the credits and most of the audience had left. Let this be a message to future writers and directors, please keep the title in the opening, that’s what gets things started on a good note.  

     This movie takes place were “Iron Man 2” ended with Shield discovering Thor’s hammer. Shield, by the way is handled much better than they were in the last two “Iron Man” movies and Samuel l Jackson makes another great appearance as Nick Fury. It’s a really exciting time to be a big Marvel fan because the Marvel comic adapted movies are starting to exist in their own universe as opposed to just being restricted to one stand alone series. Stan Lee (the creator behind Marvel comics) has another really fun cameo as a truck driver, and there’s a fun little Iron Man reference, when the robot arrives at the town, one of the shield agents asks if it’s another one of Tony Stark’s machines. Finally, the movie ends on a cliff hanger and there’s a little indication that Thor will be returning in the “Avengers movie”, I can’t even begin to describe how exciting that was. Speaking of The Avengers, one of the main team members named Hawkeye makes a cameo. Overall, this was one of the best comic book adapted movies I’ve seen in years, with it’s exciting story, legitimate drama, great characters, fun hummer, and beautiful visuals, Thor contains a little of something for everyone. It got me really interested in the legacy of Thor and it got me really excited to see him again. I give Thor 4 stars.      

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