Sunday, May 1, 2011

Thor [2011]

Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgard
Genre: Fantasy/Action
Rating: General
Comment: "It's a lot deeper than most comic-book-movies, making it feel a lot less like a superhero movie and more like a traditional fantasy movie..."

Heir to the realm of Asgard, Thor is a powerful but arrogant warrior-prince whose fall from grace is the result of reigniting the war between Asgard and the land of the ice-dwellers, Jotunheim, against the wishes of his father, Odin. Thor is then banished to the realm where humans roam, planet Earth, stripped of his godlike powers. Little that he knew that it was all part of a master plan by a traitor within Asgard to usurp the throne.

What to Expect
1. More than just a superhero movie
2. Plenty of Shakespearean feel to the themes
3. Funny "fish-out-of-water" element

What NOT to Expect
1. A lengthy (and boring) origin story
Not enough to warrant it a "Don't miss it" rating, but only by a hair
Frankly, I have little care for the "lesser" superhero movies like Ghost Rider [2007] and such. I have almost no knowledge whatsoever that there is a comic book about this particular part of the Norse mythology. I didn't know how it will fit in the usual superhero "protect-the-innocent-destroy-evil" formula, but being a fan of all ancient mythologies, I was more than ready to give this one a try.

I had only hoped that they wouldn't butcher an already fascinating Norse mythology and water it down to resemble something like Superman with a different costume. They didn't, and I loved every minute of it.

Sure, there are plenty of elements in the movie that you might already be familiar with, for example you can already tell how Thor's character arc is going to be like. You knew that he's going to start off all arrogant and ends up becoming a noble character, one who is worthy of a king. But you'd be missing the point if you lament on that, the strength of this movie is his transition from a maniacal bad boy-god to a mythical hero.

I hardly think it was coincidence that the movie had plenty of Shakespearean feel to it, with a dash of King Arthur myth thrown in there for good measure. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, quite a familiar face in the film industry (acted in movies like Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets [2002] and Valkyrie [2008], but a bulk of his work revolves around the theatre company he co-founded, the Renaissance Theatre Company where they staged many of Shakespeare's best known works.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, this is not your usually shallow superhero movie.

Of course, it helps that Thor is a god to begin with, that spared us the lengthy and not to mention, boring origin story. What really happened was that he was banished and stripped of his godlike powers after instigating a war, forced to find the real meaning of what being a king is all about during his time on Earth. It managed to do that with a very lighthearted and humourous tone.

A strong appeal, and also quite refreshing is the fish-out-of-water element to the story where an arrogant warrior-prince is forced to get used to how we do things here on Earth. I don't want to give away anything here, but if you remember in the trailer where Thor asks for another drink by smashing the mug to the floor, there's plenty of that going on.

Should you see it?
Yeah, I'd recommend it. I know plenty are inflexible when it comes to the kind of movies that they enjoy seeing, so I'd say this is one of those love-it-or-hate-it type of a movie. I know plenty will take away points because it feels rather trite, but I would disagree. Any movie of this sort is predictable if you're above the age of fifteen. But the strength of Thor comes from its fantastical overtone met with its humourous fish-out-of-water element to the story.

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