Monday, May 09, 2011


I was worried about this movie. Director Kenneth Branagh has made some overblown movies. Publicity photos were not encouraging. Asgard looked too sci-fi. Still, I sent on opening weekend.

Surprise! The movie is really good.

Minor spoiler alert.

At its heart, the movie has the same plot as Iron Man. We start with some people in a car. There is an accident followed by a flashback showing us that our hero is an arrogant jerk. We are brought back to the present where the hero has a life-changing experience. Eventually he recovers and fights the real enemy who was someone he trusted.

With both movies, the action scenes are great but the main character is vital. He has to be likable enough to carry the movie. Iron Man was so much fun because you just liked watching Tony Stark. It didn't matter if he was testing a new suit of armor or crashing a party. If the central character isn't interesting then the movie becomes an exercise in marking time until the climax.

Fortunately, Chris Hemsworth's Thor is interesting enough to carry the movie. He isn't as captivating as Tony Stark but his relationship with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her crew makes up for it.

The movie's interpretation of Loki is interesting. For decades the comic book version has simply been evil. In the movie he is a lot more complicated, especially after he learns that he is adopted.

There are some rough spots. The movie has a much larger cast than Iron Man. It includes Thor, Odin, Loki, Jane Foster and her two assistants, the Warriors Three, Sif, Heimdall, Frigga, Laufey the King of the Frost Giants, and Agent Coulson. That's a lot of people to introduce. The Warriors Three, Sif, and Heimdal all get introductions that are too short. Also, why the Warriors Three and Sif? Why not the Warriors Four? In the comic Book Sif was Thor's on-again/off-again love interest. In the movie she is just another warrior (she did have this role in some limited-series "young Thor" books).

High points - the sweeping vistas of Asgard are directly inspired by Jack Kirby's art.

Disappointments - the Rainbow Bridge is not a rainbow, it is a bunch of colored pieces of quartz. Volstagg should be a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier. He looks too much like a (very tall) dwarf from LotR.

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