Attempted Rational vs. Irrational Entry: Thor

10 May

Yup, loved it.

And I already know what you’re going to say, and I promise that YES, this will actually be a film review and not a sweaty, giggly, ‘omghe’ssocuteMUSCLESANDPRETTYHAIR!!!’ entry. I shall be completely objective in my review.

“Oh no! Your shirt is ruined! TAKE OFF YOUR CLOTHES RIGHT NOW.”

 

As a film, I found Thor to be as enjoyable as Iron Man, the film to which it is inevitably being compared, as both characters will be in The Avengers movie coming out next year.

 
I left the theater having a few questions (or hopes) for the upcoming Avengers film.
 
1. Will Thor be as big a hit as Iron Man? I think there’s a distinct possibility of this. Granted, Thor’s opening day moneywise wasn’t as big as Iron Man, but the overseas gross is already huge, and Chris Hemsworth himself is made of magic and sinew comes with a LOT less baggage than Robert Downey Jr. Even though RDJ is hot a megastar himself right now, a lot of people didn’t care for the politicized, stylized, look of Iron Man as a film overall, and RDJ’s personal history, weirdly enough, turns a lot of people off. I loved Thor, it was well done and seemed to be a big hit. I don’t know if word of mouth will carry Thor as much as Iron Man did, but I found the movies to be equally good in terms of execution and writing; and I personally liked Thor’s cartoonish muscles and pretty hair character more and would do things to him. I do think Iron Man was more accessible as a character, though because he came off as kind of a whore which is also hot. Also, Iron Man was informed a great deal by the political situation in the middle east, which of course is going to tug American heartstrings a little more.
 
1a. If that is the case and Thor is considered as big as Iron Man, will their plot be central to the Avengers movie? I know NOTHING about The Avengers. Marvel was never really my world, because I didn’t read too many comic books as a kid. Anyhoodle, I would dearly like to see a movie where Iron Man and Thor must join forces, possibly after a long bout of making out  an ego clash. Think about it, Thor shows up and literally steals Stark’s thunder; for someone intelligent, who has spent years perfecting a design that just about gets him to the level that Thor is at naturally, that would be galling. At the least, I’d like to see a slow motion naked wrestling match a bit of tension between them. It wouldn’t be out of character for them to clash, given their respective backgrounds–after all, even though Thor matured by the end of his story, what you basically have are two Golden Boys in the same room.
 
I’ve seen little criticism of Thor that seemed genuine, and not sour grapes, being spouted from people who didn’t already have an agenda, or just flat out didnt’ understand the movie. I found the character development compelling; after all, Thor’s a golden boy, he’s never failed or be denied anything. The tantrum he throws when denied the kingship is evidence of this. He also isn’t the brains of Asgard, and is easily manipulated by Loki.
I want to say that Loki came off as much more interesting as a character, but only because I would consider him an appetizer and cover him in cream I recognize the Shakespearean tropes at work. He’s a runty guy with a thin face, a bookish type growing up in a culture that values might. At the very least, his fashion sense is at odds with the rest of Asgard; he favors darker colors to the Asgardians reds and golds. The obvious setup pays off, though, through Hiddleston’s performance. He does not realize his own penchant for duplicity at first, probably only considering himself an opportunist at worst, but once he does, glories in it. And his scheming is born from the worst source of evil: plain old good intentions.
 
Did I know the good guy was going to win? Certainly. But nobody goes into a James Bond film wondering if this is the one where he finally catches a headshot; we go to see the thrills, stunts, pretty people and places. We don’t care where we’re going, we’re along for the ride, and for a film with as many classic tropes as Thor had going on, it’s a joy to see it succeed. Kenneth Branagh uses a light touch when needed, but also knows exactly when to break out the firehose.
 
Chris Hemsworth is definitely the right guy for the job; his combination of physicality and easygoing charm carry him through a few scenes that would otherwise have been weak, and his performance as blustery, overconfident Thor feels natural and not forced. He’s a guy who’s been on top see? I can restrain myself for most of his life, so of course he would think he was the cat’s pajamas in every situation. And when it comes to fighting, he really is.
 
On PZ Myers’s blog, he criticized the film for not spending enough time developing Thor’s character between the ‘I’m a golden boy!’ and ‘I’m humbled!’ points on his character arc. I didn’t see that at all. What I saw was someone who, once they had failed, was almost relieved to be free of responsibility. And it’s not like he didn’t have some bad moments; one minute he’s flying around using Mjolnir as everything from a helicopter to a club and smashing things to bits, and the next he’s tied to a hospital bed with that most nefarious of evil weapons, plastic zip-ties, and getting hit by Natalie Portman’s jeep. Who wouldn’t be freaked and humbled by that? Thor’s not a brains guy, as I said; the whole source of his overconfidence is his CARTOONISH HOT BODY AND PRETTY SMILE strength. Couple that with Mjolnir not recognizing him, and it’s no wonder he can suddenly empathize.
 
I found that kind of inspiring, the idea that empathy and gentleness are not things that must be learned, but that they are inherent to humanity (or whatever the space vikings are) and sometimes waiting to be expressed in the right moment. Sure, he needs some practice, which he gets in the form of guidance from Stellan Skarsgard. (BTW, **KIND OF SPOILER BUT NOT REALLY** there’s a scene where Skarsgard, playing Erik Solveig, claims he and Thor got drunk and got into a fight; reading between the lines, I’m sure he THOUGHT he was in a fight, and that Thor was kind enough to let him get in a few hits before letting the boilermakers they were drinking end the matter). **END OF NOT REALLY SPOILER** I could also be filling in some blanks myself, and there really was some lazy storytelling, but to be fair, if you’re comparing Thor and Stark’s character ars, well one of those two starts out a MUCH bigger asshole than the other. Just saying.
 
I also have to say I really liked the fight scenes. When Thor is in Godmode, he’s literally awesome. But when he’s a man, his fighting is useless against a new kind of foe: hospital orderlies and thorazine. I hate in movies when someone goes through psyche ward orderlies like they’re made out of cotton candy– those are the people who do this shit for a living, and don’t mess around. Sure, he fights his way to Mjolnir later, but he’s figured himself out; the old methods he used are just as efficient against humans as they are against frost giants.
 
In all, see Thor. See Thor run, see Thor fight. It’s definitely worth seeing on the big screen, although I didn’t spring for 3D because I am cheap and because what’s the point of seeing Thor in fake 3D if I cannot reach out and molest him from my theater seat, but at least I have my imagination. Oh yes.
 
There. A perfectly legitimate and rational theatrical review.
 
 
 
 
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