Monday, May 23, 2011

Thor (3D)

Hollywood really has a talent for milking a franchise. In some cases, they're so good at it that they manage to ensure a series' success even before it gets released, as is the case with the upcoming film adaptation of Marvel's Avengers Comics. And how are they doing this exactly? Well, it's a simple case of giving each member of the Avengers superhero group some individual screetime and in so doing, build a momentous degree of hype around the inevitable release of the film series. The latest screen addition to the Avengers group, Thor 3D is another succesful ingredient to this ingeious strategy.

But don't fret – Thor is a far cry from your traditional superhero movie... To be honest, it's not much of a superhero movie at all, seeing that Thor is of course a god and not some spider mutation freak or a multi-billionaire half-robotic dick. A huge part of the film doesn't even play off on earth to begin with as the movie divides its focus between happenings on two planets, instead of one. 

"To be honest, it's not much of a superhero movie at all, seeing that Thor is of course a god and not some spider mutation freak or a multi-billionaire half-robotic dick."

The 'earth part' of the story is leaded by the film's very capable love interest, Natalie Portman (Black Swan, Brothers, Star Wars) and it's quite refreshing to see Portman in a less serious role for once, even though it takes a while to get use to her straightforward dialogue and simple character model. Nonetheless, there's nothing wrong with her performance and it's great to see how comfortable she fits her stereotyped role. Kat Dennings (Charlie Bartlett, The House Bunny, 40 year old virgin) is brilliant as a bit of comic relief, but to be honest, Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth (Star Trek, The cabin in the woods) is by far the funniest of the lot. Other noteworthy performances by Clark Gregg and Stellan Skarsg rounds off the human part of the cast.

But to be honest, most of the film's magic takes place on the far away realm known as Asgard, where Thor and his fellow godlike beings keep themselves busy with heated political affairs that make our own local governmental debates look like something out of a Teletubbies episode. Director Kenneth Branagh (Rabbit-proof fence, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) has cleverly decided to keep the laughs to a minimum on Asgard, which helps to create a  powerful contrast between the two worlds. And what makes all this even more enthralling is that there's no obvious right and wrong side, as viewers are left to choose a side for themselves. Whilst Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston) is obviously the antagonist for at least the last half of the movie, his actions feel mostly justified, as the story is masterfully spun to a climatic ending. The godly part of the cast is just as wonderful, with special mention to Anthony Hopkins and Colm Feore.

The movie's greatest accomplishment is however hands-down the spectacular special effects that results in Asgard being presented as painfully majestic and battles sequences come alive as wondrously epic. The 3D itself was however a really disappointing, but the awesomeness of the standard effects more than make up for this. Whilst I don't usually single out sound effects, the sound editing here is so good that it at least deserves its own sentence in this review. All of this makes Thor an excellent popcorn movie that will have fans and newbies alike drool with anticipation for the next Avengers installment – Captain America.

This sad Excalibur-like moment can kind of get to a man that has a hammer as a best friend.
Highlight: Thor's trip to a local pet store almost had me crying with laughter.

Rating: 4 Meerkat Tails