Thor 3D Review
How well does Thor fit into the Marvel universe? Idris Elba as Heimdall, and is the 3D version any good? (No Spoilers)...
Thor, a Norse God of Thunder and Lightening turned into a comic book hero. Stan Lee in 2002 described Thor's genesis early in the Marvel pantheon, following the creation of the Hulk:
How do you make someone stronger than the strongest person? It finally came to me: Don't make him human — make him a god.
And so they went for a Viking God. That's right, the deity of a late 8th Century civilisation. Rather than going for a classic Roman or Greek God, they chose an obscure god that few outside of Scandinavia knew. A comic book universe where science rules supreme with a Viking God. Even for a comic book hero, Thor has been a strange one. In any case he has been one of the key members of The Avengers team alongside Captain America and Iron man.
Now with Marvel making feature films of all their successful properties, the question became how Thor would translate to the silver screen. He is a staple member of the team, so it was inevitable that he would have his own feature film. The Iron Man and Hulk movies were both successful, and have laid the foundation for the Avengers film. However, both are heavily based on science and technology. The same applies to the upcoming Captain America movie. Naturally, many questioned how Thor would fit into this.
And then came the news that Kenneth Brannagh was hired as the director. This may have seemed an odd choice as he is man best known for directing and starring in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare's plays. But this is precisely the reason why he was a good choice, as his background would be a great fit for Thor's use of Shakespearian gravitas and dialogue. In any case, fans where ecstatic to hear a man of such calibre was to direct a comic book movie.
That's not say that the movie has not had it's share fair of controvery along the way. First there was the news that Thor's human alter ego, Donald Blake, will not feature in the movie. Then there was the controversy surrounding Idris Elba (Stringer bell from The Wire) casting as Norse God Heimdall...The controversy being that he would be a black Viking God (in case you weren't sure). The mediocre response to the first trailer didn't help either.
Avengers is a big project and the first of its kind - one where expectations are so high that a single misstep could derail the whole thing...Well, The Mighty Thor smashes through those fears! Kenneth Branagh and crew deliver a fun, charming and surprisingly funny movie.
Interestingly, Thor is not made out to be a god, but "just" a powerful prince from another world - a world where "science and magic are one"...ooooh. That's not to say that he isn't as powerful as he is in the comics. As Natalie Portman's character rationalises, some could see Thor as a God.
The film starts with a "war montage" of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), the King of Asgard, preventing the frost giants of Jotunheim and their leader Laufey (Colm Feore) from conquering the 9 realms, starting with Earth. The Asgardian warriors defeat the Frost Giants and seize the source of their power, the "Casket of Ancient Winters".
In the present, Odin's son Thor (Chris Hemsworth) prepares to ascend to the throne of Asgard, but is interrupted when the Frost Giants attempt to retrieve the Casket. Against Odin's order, Thor travels to Jotunheim to confront Laufey, accompanied by his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), childhood friend Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (Joshua Dallas) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano). A battle ensues until Odin intervenes to save the Asgardians, destroying the fragile truce between the two races. For Thor's arrogance, Odin strips his son of his power and exiles him to Earth, accompanied by his hammer Mjolnir — the source of his power, now protected by a spell to allow only the worthy to wield it.
Thor lands in New Mexico, where scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her assistant Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) find him. Why Thor lands in New Mexico is beyond me, but it seems that anything fun and interesting happens in America - like alien invasions and serial killers. Anyway, half of the movie is set in New Mexico and the other half in Shiny Asgard, with a mixture of celestial family conflict and a fish out of water tale. It is in the latter that much of the humour is found.
Much of the movie's appeal is due to the excellent cast, in particular Chris Hemsworth's breakout performance as Thor. As established above, alot of pressure rested on his shoulders (figuratively and literally!). He was extremely likeable, and you couldn't help but root for him - even when he plays the arrogant f*ck. To go from an arrogant prince to a sincere would be king is no easy feat. He also demonstrated that he has a knack for dry humour.
The supporting cast did their bit too, especially Tom Hiddleston as Loki - the villain. In contrast to Thor, Loki is quiet and patient. But throughout Tom Hiddleston's subtle performance, you sense a darkness in him. It is quite different from the way Loki is portrayed in the comics, but this maybe something he will evolve into - especially given the fact that he is set to be the main villain in Avengers and possible sequels to Thor. However, it would have been nice to see more of a sibling rivalry between the two.
Although a relatively small part, Idris Elba was also captivating as Heimdall and it is clear that him being black had no bearing on the role. I'm sure some may still disagree, but he was great choice.
The difficulty in harmonising Thor's story with the other Marvel franchises as described above is also avoided as Asgard is no longer a place of Gods and Earth a place for mortals. The concept of 9 realms is still maintained however, which will allow the franchises to fully utilise the vast source material should they need to.
Although Asgard is now treated as another dimension, no explanation is provided as to how they are so powerful. It's just described as magic, which in turn is alluded to unknown science. The fan in me wants to know the why's and what's but maybe it's good to keep the fantastical element and leaving it to our imagination. After all, some things are best left unexplained (Midi-chlorians in Star War anyone?).
Having only seen the 3D version, I cannot conclusively say that the visuals were amazing as some of the battle scenes where blurry - but I suspect that this maybe because of the 3D conversion. I strongly advise against the 3D version as it was distracting and didn't add anything to the movie. As for the Costumes and the grand set pieces however, they looked fantastic.
All round a great popcorn movie and another reason to be hopeful for the Avengers film.
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