Thursday, 19 May 2011

Hercules mixed with Sword in the Stone mixed with sort of Lion King but more like whatever film it is with rivalling siblings starring a guy who's channelling Heath Ledger's voice. Thor was pretty.

Ok, long title, but I had to work in my initial reaction somewhere.

Yes, Thor was bloody gorgeous. And I don't mean Chris Hemsworth, though you do get to see that his body is as sculpted as Michaelangelo's David. My goodness. And he's so tall too; I know Natalie Portman is a diddy thing and Stellen Skarsgard isn't exactly the Hulk, but he was pretty tall as well as beefy. Oh my. Beautiful Australian. And also from Melbourne, so perhaps that explains why he sounded as though he was channelling Heath Ledger's faux British Accent from A Knight's Tale (not complaining, I found it oddly soothing and it was pleasantly at odds with his massive crockery-smashing being).

Aaaanyhoo. Yes, the world of Asgard, the realm of what we know as Norse Gods is pure art. It's how the big city in the NeverEnding Story should have looked. It's how I wish Oblivion and the Shivering Isle EP had looked on my computer, had my graphics card had pathetic support. [Slight cause of annoyance for me]

The realm of the Ice Giants, Jotenheim was just as interesting, with the complete reversal in luxury and decadence. The Ice Giants were... interesting, to look at, maybe. Their king, Laufey, had reminiscences of some of the Big Bads in various series of Buffy, however. Somehow he reminded me of The Master (the teeth and pointy chin?), the song and dance demon, Sweet, The Judge and I dunno. There was something else about him but I couldn't place it.  I'd put pictures, but if you've not watched them animated, you probably wouldn't see what I meant, so...

I had been sceptical about the casting of Idris Elba as Heimdall. I don't buy into this "it's racist to not have a black god" - Norse Gods, traditionally, aren't black. They hadn't encountered any. It was historical and mythological truth. But, frankly, he was pretty damn cool. I liked him. Though I expected him to come out with a line from Shivering Isles... His outfit made me think of this:
Ok, yeah, this is a white woman, but it's the gold helmet and the sword and stuff.

The plot was... well. It was perhaps a little fast-paced. And the romance theme was totally shoe-horned in. I'm reluctant to blame Kenneth Branagh for it though. 
Natalie Portman is a plot accessory. She knocks him down, brings him to New Mexico, helps him try to get his hammer back in exchange for learning about where he came from. In two days there is NO room for a bit of a romance and star-struckedness. But they have to do it, cause apparently the majority of the audience is into that icky stuff. I do like that she totally acted like a slut with the kiss. He was willing to go with out but she chucked herself on him and sucked face like no tomorrow. 
(I just wish somebody would reshape her eyebrows or draw on a little bit on the ends, so that they're less of a random straight line across her face. /bitchy moment)

There wasn't perhaps enough of an obvious incentive for Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to be the trouble child. I mean, he didn't know his real incentive until AFTER he's messed up Thor's life. But there could be room for development in The Avengers. I won't hold it against him though - he felt he didn't belong and stuff. He was realising himself and his capabilities after freeing himself of Thor's shadow. But there wasn't enough background for Loki, at least, to explain his double (possibly triple) bluffing.

Thor had to do a bit of soul-searching, too. With the help of Loki. By blaming himself for everything and thinking he'd messed up more than he had was the perfect kick up the arse towards humility and forethought - I refuse to believe that his love interest was the reason he went so ''soft'', as Loki put it.

As a result of the fast-paced story - he's only on earth for 3 days tops - the fight scenes are also very fast and perhaps over the top. I don't know. I'm not a great connoisseur or admirer of fight scenes. I can recognise when they don't have any plot significance though.

There were a lot of recognisable themes:

  • Journey of self discovery.
  • Monarchal and Sibling Rivalry.
  • Patricide.
  • Arrogance vs Humility and patience.
  • [Love at first sight]
  • Comradeship.

Check out his muscles! Sword in the Stone, unworthiness.
And you can sort of recognise a lot of mythology and popular fiction... As I said in the title, there is a sort of element of Hercules - banished son walks as a mortal, falls in love, sacrifices himself, gets his god-powers back, kicks ass, and promises to return. (Though with Hercules and Meg, it's a lot less open-ended, since he'd lived on earth for much longer)
There's the Sword in the Stone - only one who is worthy of the sword/hammer will be able to call it and to claim the power of Thor. Clever Odin (Anthony Hopkins) knew that Thor was capable of learning his lessons in humility just in time.
And there's the normal sibling rivalry for one crown. As the parents make an effort to not exert favouritism whilst rearing their children, one is obviously overshadowed and nurtures a sinister jealousy and where he lacks in physical strength and bulk, he makes up for it in diplomacy, charisma and mischief making. To quote Scar, from The Lion King, Loki has the "lion's share" of brain, but "when it comes to brute strength [he] is at the shallow end of the gene pool". 

And even Odin, played by the fluffy-bearded Anthony Hopkins (<3) had a bit of discovery going on. He began to see what he should have seen in his children a long time ago. But then, hind sight is a gloriously (useless) thing.

Sif and the Warriors Three were pretty cool. I felt as though perhaps they were channelling D'Artagnan or another French swordsman through Fandral, which is kinda ironic cause the dude that played Volstagg was in a version of the Three Muskateers. I hope that Sif isn't pining a bit after Thor - there might have been a slight moment at the end, but it's hard to tell. I hope not. It'd be nice if she was just cool, or they were friends and you know, it'd be a companionship type marriage for the good of the line of heirs for Asgard or something. But they added a nice bit of comic relief when they just turn up in New Mexico looking for Thor.

I very much liked the continuity of Thor with the end clip of Iron Man 2. For a split second I feared they'd failed, but they didn't. It was all there. All 2 seconds of it or whatever it was.
Overall, the film is stunning, and the acting is actually quite good. The writing is pretty Marvel-film standard. There's not a huge amount of kick-ass-ery though, in the speech, but they threw in references to the Iron Man films beautifully - one man asking if the guardian of Asgard's weaponry (The Destroyer) was "one of Stark's" inventions, and of course S.H.I.E.L.D had a pretty central role, surrounding the hammer.
I think Kenneth Branagh did a pretty damn good job.

7 or 8 out of 10 from me. I dock marks for the stupid tickbox romance.

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