Lightning Does Strike Twice: Thor is Another Must-Watch Marvel Movie!
Posted on: May 2, 2011 by admin.
Ten years ago if you asked any Joe Blow on the street to name a superhero, I guarantee that the lackluster barrage you’d be hit with would contain a lot of DC characters. Oh sure, Spiderman would be in there somewhere, and MAYBE Wolverine or Captain America might get an honorary mention as well, but the simple fact is: 10 years ago, Marvel just didn’t have the media reach that DC did. Oh, how things have changed!
This past weekend I had the opportunity to see a screening of Marvel Studios latest entry into its new movie universe: Thor. Having been a fan of the Thunder God since I was a boy, I went into this movie with a very high standard of what to expect – leave it to the House of Ideas to never disappoint!
Thor is the 4th in the Marvel Studios attempt to put all their characters into one universe, and serves as the introduction to the Odinson. Without giving too much away, the story deals with the repressions Thor sets into motion, after invading Jotunheim, the realm of the Frost Giants, and re-starting a war that ended over a thousand years ago. Outraged by his son’s arrogance, Odin banishes Thor to Earth, stripping him of his powers in the hopes that he will gain humility while amongst the mortals. The rest of the story concerns Thor trying to return to Asgard and dealing with his brother Loki, who has something with do with the recent turn of bad events. It’s a very layered storyline that many of the cast (rightly) have compared to Richard III in the main character’s fall from grace, and also one that all fans of the silver-age comics will love!
One of the greatest strengths in the movie lies in new-comer Chris Hemsworth’s portrayal of Thor. There’s no better way to say then that Hemsworth just ‘gets’ the character and does an amazing job channeling that understanding into an amazing performance. He makes Thor a likable character, even if at times he does unlikable things and shows such a degree of charm and heroism throughout the movie that you’ll wonder if there was ever another choice for the lead!
Anthony Hopkins also does a fine job as Odin. I’ll be honest, I’m always nervous to see a Hopkins film because, while a fine actor, he does tend to ‘phone it in’ a lot of the time, and for every one Hannibal Lecter there are many Ted Crawfords and John Talbots. Thankfully here it’s the Hopkins we all know and love: one who is both commanding and captivating at the same time. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that he steals every scene that he’s in – Very fitting for the King of the Gods.
Finally there’s Natalie Portman, the titular romantic interest of the movie. While she does do well, along with her team, as the comic relief of the story, as the leading lady she is sadly lacking. Maybe it was only me, but I just didn’t feel like there was any chemistry between Thor and her, and in fact a lot of the time it seemed like she was channeling Amidala for her scenes (and how memorable was the Padme/Skywalker romace, right?). What is it about Portman? When she carries the film as a lead she does an amazing job (look no further than Swan Lake for proof), but whenever she’s regulated to a supporting cast role, all that magic seems to disappear and she’s just another body on the set. I’m probably being too harsh though, it was an alright performance, just not something I’d expect from an actor of her caliber.
Along with the actors, no discussion of Thor would be complete without talking about the sets and special effects for the movie. They were, in a word, sublime. There’s been a lot of worry over how much justice the producers of Thor would be able to do realms like Asgard, and in fact one of the main reasons why the film has taken so long to be made (scripts have been floating around for almost 10 years) was the limitations/budget that all the special effects would cost to make a proper film. Thankfully the wait has definitely been worth it! Though the film only takes place in three of the nine realms of the Thor Mythos (Midgar/Earth, Asgard, Jotunheim), each has been created in such a way as to give it its own personality and make it distinctive from the others – Asgard is both futuristic and old world, Jotuheim is bleak and desolate, and Earth (faux New Mexico) is a mixture of the two. It’s fitting then that the movie starts in Jotuheim, moves to Asgard, and then most of the action takes places on Earth; you can tell a lot of thought went into the scenery.
Speaking of Jotunheim, probably the best instance of ‘movie magic’ was in the creation of the Frost Giants. They were some of the best CGI I’ve seen since Gollum! Seriously, they’re done well enough that, when you look at them, you could imagine these things being real, and actually reminded me a lot of the Na’vi from Avatar – but in a good way! In fact, it’s good to see that the days of Jar-Jar Binks are passed, and that CGI is actually doing what it was originally intended to so long ago (take that GL).
Overall, Thor was a wonderful day at the cinema for me. With an engaging story that’s full of nods for comic fans, an all-star cast who you can tell is enjoying their work, and scenery that could come straight out of Lord of the Rings, Thor is definitely one of the must-see movies of this summer. Check it out!
The Fanboy Speaks - Thor Answers
Posted on: April 25, 2011 by admin.
Well Thor is apparently one touch mother- because no one emailed me any answers over the weekend in response to the questions. So humble yeselves before me mortals for now thy answers shalt be revealed!
1. What was Thor’s original weakness in regards to losing his hammer?
Originally, Thor couldn't be separated from his hammer for more than sixty seconds. If he was he'd lose his powers and return to being Donald Blake - his handicapped alter-ego
2. When must Odin enter the Odinsleep, and how long must he remain in it?
Odin must enter the Odinsleep - a means for renewing his powers - once every year. Usually he only has to remain in it for a day, but if he has serious injuries, or over-extends his powers, then it can take longer. He is extremely weak in this state and usually requires the warriors of Asgard to protect him while in it.
3. What is the name of Thor’s Hammer, who crafted it, and what is it made out of?
The hammer is named Mjolnir and was created by the dwarven smith Eitri from a metal unique to Asgard called Uru.
4. How do Asgardians travel to the fabled city and who is the protector they must meet before entering?
To reach Asgard, first you must cross the Bifrost Bridge (also known as the Rainbow Bridge), and upon coming to the end, you will meet its protector, Heimdal.
5. How many people have sucessfully lifted the Hammer of Thor (BONUS: Name them).
Eight from the main continuity. (Beta Ray Bill, Odin, Red Norvell, Steve Rogers, Eric Masterson, Superman, Wonderman, Bor)
THE FANBOY CHALLENGE: NAME 15 characters from the realms of Asgard that DON’T include Thor, Loki, or Odin.
Sif, Heimdal, Baldar, Hogun, Volstagg, Fandral, Hela, Skurge the Execuction, Amora the Enchantress, Bor, Fandral, Surtur, Eitri, Freya, and Ulik the troll.
And there you are guys. See, easy as pie! Tune in this friday for another edition!