Sunday, April 29, 2012

Second Opinion - Thor

In prep for seeing the upcoming Avengers film, I have been re-watching the prequels in the order of their release: IRON MAN, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, IRON MAN 2 and most recently THOR (Previously reviewed on this blog here).

My first viewing was marred by a dark presentation in what was supposed to be one of Hollywood’s best places to see a movie: The Cinerama Dome. I don’t remember what version of 3D it was, only that the Dome must have been in a thrift mood, since they didn’t power up the projectors to full lumination; 3D requires a lot of light to be any good. Going in, Thor had been the Avengers prequel that I was the least excited about seeing and the poor presentation did not help change my mind about it.

Fast forward several months to watching this on 2D Blu-Ray at home. Sitting down to watch the film a second time, I still had my reservations, much like when I watched The Incredible Hulk for a second time two weeks ago. But I’m happy to report that Thor is better when you can actually see it.

That is not to say that it is a great film or even a great comic-book based film. But it does do a better job than I remembered filling in the gap between Iron Man 2 and Captain America. Chris Hemsworth is actually a better actor; taking a very self-centered and arrogant character and making him sympathetic is no easy task and while the transformation might have been a bit quick, by the end you do find yourself rooting for Thor. And I’ll admit I liked Natalie Portman’s character a little better the second time as well.

That said, there are some things that don’t improve when you can really see things clearly. Asgard, for one, doesn’t look the least bit like a place anyone would live in. I know it’s a fictional locale, but even then, it should look like a believable place, rather than a production designer’s conception.

And there are some muddy plot points that even the sun couldn’t make clearer. I don’t think the film really does a good job explaining what happened to Odin (Anthony Hopkins). He falls into Odinsleep, but why I’m not sure, even after a second viewing. Maybe things were just too much for him, but isn’t that what fainting’s for? It kind of makes the all-powerful Odin come across like a hot house orchid.

Also, when Thor’s friends, the Warrior’s Three and Sif, come to Earth, they have no problems finding him. I know that’s not the point of the film, but it just seemed too easy. I don’t know about you, but if I’ve never been someplace before, finding your way around can be difficult, let alone finding one person out of seven billion. Where were these guys when we were looking for Osama Bin Laden? And Thor’s gal pal Sif doesn’t seem to be the least bit jealous of his infatuation with earthling Jane Foster (Portman). Not even a whiff. She’s been hanging out with this brute all her life and she loses him to some “strange” without any emotion. Maybe things are different on Asgard.

The film Thor also introduces a new character to the Marvel movie universe, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), but if you blink you might miss him. Iron Man 2 did a better job introducing the Black Widow character, though she is not referred to as such in the film. In Thor, you see an archer with a couple lines of dialogue. I had to admit I didn’t remember him from my first viewing at all.

The point of Thor was to get from Iron Man to Captain America and introduce Thor and his villainous step-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) as well as Hawkeye along the way. These things it does and it serves its purpose as a tweener film. It is a must see, if only for that. And if you do have the Blu-Ray, be sure to watch the special feature: The Consultant. It is worth the price of admission.

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