THOR (2011) - Theatrical Release May 15, 2011 22:59:53 GMT -5
Post by Erik Rupp on May 15, 2011 22:59:53 GMT -5
It's always a pleasant surprise (and often a big surprise) when a movie exceeds expectations, largely because it happens so infrequently.
So when I heard that Marvel Studios was making a Thor feature film I was hopeful, but skeptical. The pitfalls leading to large vats of cheese were many. The script was going to have to be written extremely well, with a clever adaptation of the comic book in order for the movie to work.
So guess what? (As if you couldn't figure out where I was going...)
Despite the standard Hollywood practice of passing the screenwriting from one writer (or team of writers) to another, the script for Thor turned out to be every bit as good as it needed to be in order for the movie to work (and not be some laughable outlandish story). It is a rousingly entertaining movie, with exciting action scenes, bits of humor, and some genuine character development.
Key to the movie, of course, was the casting of Thor himself, and on this count the producers struck gold. Chris Hemsworth, while largely unknown going in to the movie, turned out to embody everything that a big screen Thor should embody. He was noble, at times arrogant, and honorable. Oh, and funny, too. He had the sly, subtle sense of humor that was needed as well. He wasn't making fun of the character, he was having fun with him (from time to time when the humorous parts came up). He comes across as a possible successor to Arnold Schwarzenneger's crown as the king of action movies. (No one has really dominated action movies like Arnold did from the mid 80's to the mid 90's.)
But while Hemsworth was inspired casting, the rest of the cast turned out to be just as inspired. Anthony Hopkins was ideally cast as Odin, Thor's father and King of Asgaard. Natalie Portman brought the charm that she's often capable of showing, and Tom Hiddleston was wickedly, well... wicked as Thor's brother Loki. Both Thor and Loki have solid character arcs that set up future movies (and potentially a plotline for the Avengers movie).
Bringing all of this together, though, was no small task. Even with a well written script and fine casting the movie still could have become a cheese-fest if the director had mishandled it. Kenneth Branagh treated the movie with the respect and reverence that it needed when it needed that, but he also let the movie have a sense of fun and even whimsy on (rare) occasion. This is a BIG movie, and Branagh handles it as well as anyone could have - better than most, really. The visuals are breathtaking, and being a top actor himself he handled the actors extremely well. This wasn't Branagh's first directing job, but it may be one if his best when you look at all the different aspects of this job.
Thor hits all of the notes right - the pacing is near perfect, the acting is very good, the action scenes and special effects are all great, and the direction is outstanding. It is an exciting, entertaining movie on a grand scale, and it is one of those rare pleasant cinematic surprises (much like Iron Man was a few years ago). It's a darned good movie and it ranks among the very best of the comic book superhero movies.