I caught a screening of Thor (Imax 3D) last night and was pleasantly surprised. Here’s the spoiler-free summary: it’s worth seeing. Kenneth Branagh did a fine job directing what’s arguably the toughest movie in The Avengers series. It’s hard to convey the awesome power of a Norse god (Branagh did this) and it’s easy to get caught up in ridiculous mythology (Branagh avoided this pitfall). The movie is well paced and entertaining with some beautiful set pieces and great action scenes. While I didn’t enjoy it as much as Iron Man 2, I liked Thor on its own and as part of the lead-up to The Avengers. Now here are some random observations, criticisms, and silly thoughts on the movie. Spoilers ahead!
Costumes: The Asgardian costumes worked way better than most people expected (I had faith they would work). A lot of my friends ranted about how ridiculous the Asgardians looked in the stills released to magazines. I had no problem with the costumes in the movie. They looked fine on the Asgardian sets and appropriately out of place on the Earth sets. They also looked much better in motion than in stills — even Anthony Hopkins’ Odin getup!
Action: I love how modern action movies convey power. That’s one problem I always had with the original Superman movies — his punches never seemed epic. When someone like Superman or Thor lands a punch, people in the next county should feel it. Whether it was Thor bashing frost giants in the face or him decimating the ground with Mjolnir, the blows had an impact worthy of a god.
Warriors Three: I loved that these guys were in the movie and were mostly true to Stan Lee’s designs. That said, I would have done things differently. Fandral would have been played by Cary Elwes. Volstagg would have been green screened so that he’d be ridiculously large compared to his two companions. Hogun wouldn’t have sounded Asian; the character was modeled after Charles Bronson after all. When the Warriors Three and Sif were walking into town, there’s a hilarious bit with the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent calling it in. That was my favorite joke in the movie.
Loki: I was really impressed with Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. He had more depth than any other character in the film. Hiddleston did a wonderful job of making Loki seem charming, manipulative, and damaged all at once. I hope he gets some time to shine in The Avengers.
Thor: While Loki arguably stole the show, I was satisfied with Chris Hemsworth’s performance. From the trailers I knew he’d have the action elements down. I was pleasantly surprised by his charm. He also did a good job at transforming from an arrogant godling at the beginning of the movie and a more understanding deity at the end.
Signs: Of course there was a Stan Lee cameo, but I loved the use of signs in the movie for nerd shout-outs. There was one billboard that said, “Home of the Vikings”. That’s an obvious gag. There was another one that ended with, “Journey into Mystery”. That’s a super-cool and nerdy gag. Longtime comics fans will know that Journey into Mystery became Thor’s book starting with issue #83.
Chick Flick?: A lot of fanboys I know were worried that the movie would have too many scenes with a shirtless Chris Hemsworth. That wasn’t the case at all. His shirtless scenes were brief. If anything, there’s a lot of eye candy for guys and lesbians. Natalie Portman (Jane Foster) was a beautiful braniac. Kat Dennings (Darcy Lewis) was snarky, super cute, and charming. Jaimie Alexander (Sif) had the sexy warrior goddess thing going. There were plenty of beautiful women in this movie.
Hawkeye: When Thor is trying to get Mjolnir back from S.H.I.E.L.D., one soldier goes for a bow instead of a gun. As a Hawkeye fan, I totally marked out. Of course this soldier ended up being Clint Barton! I hope he gets some bad-ass scenes in The Avengers.
Asgard or Mondrian?!?: Most of the set pieces were good, but there was one set that looked more like an Ian Schraeger hotel than a room in an Asgardian palace. It was kind of disorienting.
Black Heimdall: He was cool.
The Destroyer: He was cooler.
I was very satisfied with Thor. The action was great and the bits of humor were fun. The movie flowed nicely and I love what these Marvel movies are building towards. As a standalone movie, I enjoyed Thor. As part of The Avengers I liked how this tale is different from the Iron Man movies and presumably different from the Captain America movie. The movie succeeded in entertaining me, making me want to rewatch the Iron Man movies, and increasing my anticipation for the Captain America and The Avengers movies.
Of course I can’t wait to discuss the movie with you! If you catch Thor, kindly share your thoughts on the movie.