Saturday, May 7, 2011

Movie Review: Thor

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The big summer blockbusters have started this week with the release of Thor. I trekked out to my local Regal theater and based on the information I was given last week, I decided to try to new food offerings. I ordered the jalapeno poppers, paid my money and was moving over to the side when my cashier called over to order, an assistant manager barked out that he told them that they didn't have the new stuff. I took my refund and headed into the theater. It was one of the smaller theaters holding about 180 seats. When the movie started the theater has about half full of people including two babies and four cell phones without their ringers turned off. You probably know where I'll go with them later. I was happy to find out at least at this time prices didn't go up and the cost for my 2D version of the movie remained the same. The movie was not a great, but at least a very good start for the string of blockbusters due to roll out over the next couple of months.

Thor Movie Poster
The action starts off pretty quickly with scientists Jane Foster and Erik Salvig (Natalie Portman and Stellan Skarsgård) out in the New Mexico desert when an anomaly in the sky occurs. They take their vehicle and rush to the disturbance which is now touching the ground and they hit something. When the dust clears they see a man laying on the ground. When Jane asks how did he get there we travel through space to a gleaming golden city into a huge throne room. On the throne is Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and his sons Thor and Loki (Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston) are before him. So right off the bat we are treated to some action, superb special effects and backstory to kick off the origin story for our hero Thor.

Director Kenneth Branagh leads us through what caused arrogant and insolent Thor to be banished from Asgard and sent to earth. You would think if your Dad is an all powerful king and fighter and if he tells you not to do something, you'd think that you'd listen to him! In the process of banishment Thor is stripped of his powers and his special hammer Mjöllnir It's at that point where we go back to earth and pick up Thor laying on the ground after being clipped by Jane's truck.

We see that things back in Asgard aren't as rosey as they had originally seemed and Thor's pals Sif, Volstagg, Hogun and Fandral (Jaimie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano and Josh Dallas) realize they need to travel to Earth to retrieve their pal and bring him back to try to set the situation straight. In the mean time a nasty metal robot man called the Destroyer which shoots really strong beams of fire out of its widened eye sockets is sent to Earth too in order to stop Thor who has none on his special powers. He can use his battle training, but that's about it as his piercing blue eyes, big muscles and roguish smile only work on the ladies.

The movie works on most levels. There are great special effects. Asgard and Bifrost, the bridge aka worm hole that took Odin and his forces to other realms looked wonderful on the screen. The origin story is laid out neatly for us, pretty straight forward there. The love interest between a god and a human. Good vs evil. The foundation for SHIELD and the upcoming Avengers movie was referenced including a nod to Ironman and Tony Stark. There were some good moments of comedy some of it coming from Hemsworth and several times Portman.

Where the movie fell short was really setting up the dramatic moments that kept us on the edge of our seats. Three of the big fight scenes were good but were a little short of the extra umph that would make us go "YEAH!" out loud. Even the Easter egg with Nick Fury was worthy of sitting through the credits. What didn't work was the people who didn't turn off their ringers including the one person who had his set on the old fashioned phone ringer that went off four times and the two babies who didn't like the volume multiple times throughout the 114 minute running time. For that reason it was one of the toughest movies I've seen lately due to the crowd but not the presentation.

It was near Ironman good, but lacked slightly. Thor was rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi action/violence and while the ladies got to enjoy a buff Hemsworth with his shirt off, the guys didn't get quite as much with either Portman or Alexander. Let's see if Green Lantern releasing in June and Captain America with its July release date offer the same level of story and excitement.

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