Sunday, May 26, 2013

Thor (2011) Blu-Ray

Rating:  4 out of 5 Norse gods undergoing existential crisis

Plot Synopsis:  Thor learns what it to be truly worthy.

The Good:

-The introduction of Jane Foster and her crew with one of the many times they run over Thor.

-Kat Dennings is hilarious in her role.  She provides a good, smart ass every person counterpoint to what’s going on.

-Anthony fucking Hopkins as Odin.  He plays it so well and so seriously it’s really something.

-Frost giants.  I love how they look, I love how they fight and I love how they sound.  The frost giants are probably my favorite movie fodder.  The best part is when one of them creates a spikey frost ball and throws it in the face of one of the Asgardians.

-The introduction to Asgard is amazing a great, full world tracking shot.  In one sweeping camera motion we see the entirety of Asgard in all its majestic glory.

-I actually really enjoy that they made Thor and the Asgardians “aliens” establishing all that myth as extraterrestrial and all the “magic” as super science, even though they still call it magic.

-Young Thor and young Loki are adorable, just adorable.

-I love the interaction between Odin and Thor.  There’s pride in Odin for Thor but it’s mixed with a little bit of disappointment and the relationship between the two is antagonistic but in a familial way.

-I’ve seen this movie so many times but it’s on multiple viewings that you realize how manipulative Loki really is.  You really start to appreciate the subtleties in Tom Hiddleston’s performance and how from the very start of the film he’s working a massive plot to get rid of his brother.  It starts as a way to get rid of Thor but you can watch him take advantage of new information and opportunities to not just get rid of Thor but also take over Asgard.

-Ray Stevenson as Volstagg, it’s amazing how he can do a performance like this and at the same time do a performance like he did as Frank Castle.  Two totally different characters, two totally different tones, both amazing.

-Idris Elba does quite well with what little he has in the role of Hiemdall.

-The way Thor spins his hammer.

-Odin showing up on his eight legend horse Sleipnir.

-The Bifrost is pretty cool, a big spinning rainbow teleporter thingy.  I also like the Celtic mazes it leaves behind whenever there is a touch down.

-Odin has flashes of terrifying anger.  He seems calm, collected and almost peace loving but there are moments where you can see why he would be feared across the nine realms.  This plays into the mythic portrayal of Odin as well since he is a god of both violence, war and victory but also the god of wisdom and knowledge.

-Thor gets tasered.

-Thor gets committed and sedated.

-Thor gets hit by a car… again.

-The party that shows up around trying to pull the hammer out.

-Hey, it’s Stan Lee again.

-Chris Hemsworth does quite well as Thor, the arrogance of the early Thor, the anger and confusion of depowered Thor and then finally redeeming himself and rediscovering his godhood.

-A nice little reference to Bruce Banner

-“So, give me one of those large enough to ride.” Looking for a horse but will settle for a large dog or cat.

-Depowered Thor trying to get his hammer back.  There is desperation to get his power back then anger and finally he gives up when he can’t lift it.  The total hopelessness when he can’t reclaim what is his is kind of heartbreaking.

-Hawkeye’s sudden cameo, the first glimpse of his awesomeness.  I really like this version of Hawkeye, I'll get more into why when I do the Avengers review.

-Thor goes drinking.

-“We got Xena, Jackie Chan and Robin Hood…” referring to the Warriors Three and Sif.  They left out Volstagg.

-Loki summons the Casket of Ancient Winters and uses it to freeze Hiemdall solid.

-I love how the Destroyer gets turned around after being impaled.  All his parts just spin and suddenly he’s facing the other direction.

-The final fight with Loki is pretty good.  Several highlights are Loki using his illusions and Thor weighing Loki down in place by placing his hammer on Loki’s chest.

The Bad:

-I wish the Warriors Three and Sif got more screen time.  They get a decent amount of screen time but we never learn all that much about them.  I also wish we saw them in action more, they get one good sequence with the frost giants but when it comes time to fight the Destroyer they get taken out pretty quick.

-Thor’s transformation from arrogant a-hole to “worthy” seems a bit fast but it can be forgiven a little due to how much he loses and how fast he lost it.  I suppose not being able to retrieve his hammer would be a pretty extreme rock bottom moment.

-The Destroyer just kind of tears through everybody like an unstoppable force but then gets beat pretty quickly by a repowered Thor.

The Ugly:

-I have seen every version of this possible and I have to say the Blu-ray is the best.  It’s the first time I’ve actually been able to SEE the whole sequence on Jotunheim.  In the other versions it gets too dark at moments and the action gets lost.

Final Thoughts:  This version is by far the most balanced.  It has the best balance of comedy, drama and action.  The other Phase 1 films tend to favor one of those three to the exclusion of the other two (Iron Man favors comedy, Captain America favors action, Incredible Hulk favors drama).  This movie has a good amount of all three.  You have your funny moments provided by Jane Foster and her crew, you have your dramatic moments provided by Thor, Loki and Odin and you have your action moments provided by Thor, Siff and the Warriors Three.  It makes it the easiest Phase 1 movie for me to watch and it makes it the easiest to watch over and over again.  I love Iron Man 2 but I need cool downs before viewings and even though Thor isn’t up there on my favorite comic movies to watch I’ve watched it a lot. 

It’s also the first Phase 1 movie I show to people who aren’t comic fans because it doesn’t get weighed down in comic lore and it’s not so deep in any one direction that it makes it unlikable by people who don’t like a particular genre.  It takes a good mythology and a good character and starts from scratch.  By going the way it does (aliens, super science, etc) it gives a nice starting point and explains everything without getting too complicated.  There are fan references (such as Edward Blake being an ex-boyfriend of Jane Foster.  Edward Blake was Thor’s secret identity in the comics) but they aren’t so integral to the plot that you need to be aware of them to get everything out of the movie.  It’s not a perfect movie but it is damn entertaining so, like all the Phase 1 movies, I highly recommend it.

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