This is one of my favorite times of the year. Temperatures get higher, people get more relaxed, and the summer blockbuster season begins. People may argue that it began last week with Fast Five, but not for me; for me, it began this weekend. Today’s movie is the Marvel Studios presentation Thor. This movie – released by Paramount Pictures – stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, and Stellan Skarsgård. This movie is another tent pole in the Marvel universe leading up to next year’s film The Avengers, and this is another fine entry into a universe that began with Iron Man and goes forth from there.
The movie begins in New Mexico, where astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), grad student Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), and Jane’s mentor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) are driving in the deserts of New Mexico looking for a link to some strange goings on that Jane had been noticing as of late. Suddenly, a strange light falls from the sky and a man falls out – right in front of her car. The movie then flashes to 965 A.D. Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of Asgard, fights in a war against the Frost Giants and their leader Laufey (Colm Feore) to keep them from taking over the Nine Realms of Yggdrasil. Through a series of events Thor disappoints Odin with his actions, and is banished to Earth. From here, the movie really begins, with Thor having to realize how to be humble in order to ascend to his rightful place.
Chris Hemsworth is very capable as the Norse God Thor. He was able to carry the look and the arrogance that was needed in the beginning, and it was fun to watch him grow as the movie went on. I hadn’t seen much of Hemsworth since his ten minute opening scene in Star Trek as George Kirk, but he really made his mark in this film.
I’ve mentioned before how I feel about Natalie Portman (for proof, see Black Swan), and I love every chance I get to see her on screen. She plays Jane Foster very convincing, although I do have a slight issue with how the movie turns a brilliant astrophysicist into a lovesick puppy with the flick of a wrist. That being said, she did well, and she did her trademark crying, too.
The one I really loved seeing was Tom Hiddleston. I’m incredibly unfamiliar with his body of work, but I refuse to sit idly by and not try to find more of his films. Simply put, he was spectacular as Loki. Everyone knows Loki as a mischievous God, almost to the point of ducking around corners and cackling maniacally. Not this Loki. Hiddleston plays him as a sympathetic villain, and you almost see where he’s coming from when he does what he does. On top of that, he actually makes you feel sorry for him once you find out his motivation for everything.
For someone like Odin, you need someone who has a regal presence and can carry the gravitas a role like that would require. However, since Sean Connery is good and retired, the filmmakers decided to get Anthony Hopkins instead. Of course I’m kidding, but this is an actually controlled and muted performance by Hopkins. It’s almost as if he was trying his best not to revert to the slithering character he has played as of late, and he deserves a big thank you for that.
Stellan Skarsgård plays the part of Erik Selvig, and he does what his character is meant to do: play a sort of father figure to Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings’ characters. He has some pretty good scenes there near the end, but one of my favorite scenes was one that he shared with Thor in a bar. Let’s put it like this: he drank, he laughed, and he honored his ancestors well. I couldn’t imagine the movie without him.
This movie is directed by Kenneth Branagh, and let me just go on record as saying I love him as a director. He comes from the world of Shakespeare, but he knows how to get the best out of his actors. This was his first big blockbuster film, but you wouldn’t know it from his directing ability. The score was done by Patrick Doyle, and – whereas it wasn’t totally forgettable – it was virtually boring. The last thing I heard him score was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but that score was unremarkable as well. What wasn’t unremarkable was the CGI; the work they did in making Asgard look like a real place was simply phenomenal. The Bifröst Bridge was really breathtaking, and the cinematography was outstanding.
This is how you kick off the summer blockbuster season. There have been many good movies that served as starting points for the movies to come, and this is just another example of how to do it right. There were some scenes that seemed a bit off at first, but they eventually found their way in successfully. The score may not have been that great, but I’d be really picky if I didn’t consider this movie five times More Epic Than Love Jones. Run – don’t walk – to see this as soon as possible, and prepare yourself for a good time.
Your ancestors would be proud.