Friday, May 6, 2011

THOR, and/or a perfect example of why I started this stupid blog.

I like Thor. A lot. He is a really interesting character and over the years his mythology (real-ish) has become fused with Marvel's (fake-ish). Lots of weight goes along with him, God, King, Hero, Human-ish. Often it seems that writers can't decide on how to deal with him exactly, however he is near and dear to people's hearts. Except it seems for the people at Marvel Studios.

There I said it.

I am not a writer and don't pretend to be, all of that will become clear when you keep reading this spoiler ridden musing on the motion picture THOR. But I did start this blog to have some kind of outlet for all of my frustrations in the small hope that someone important might read it and listen so that the movies that I want to see will get made. Here are the bullet points in sloppy prose of my feelings about THOR.
 To reiterate SPOILERS AHEAD.

The trailer was terrible and gave me pause for concern about the movie. I was right.

Kenneth Branagh is a good director sometimes. Sometimes he is not. He should not have been put in charge of this movie. He does not have a particularly interesting style, and if he is not totally invested in the material it suffers. This seems to me to be a time when Hollywood called up an established director and asked him to do a big budget movie the likes of which he had not done before. An effects driven movie when he wanted to do more of a character piece and was being told by producers and studio heads how to design the movie. Too many cooks. I also feel like Branagh wasn't invested.

Two people wrote the story, three DIFFERENT people wrote the screenplay. Go to IMDB and look at their credits. See if you can figure out what in their past would give you confidence that they could write a good THOR movie. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that they, all five of them... were big Thor fans. Probably not though. Also, seeing as how Silver Surfer was such a big critical and box office success its good they got that guy.

The movie started great, with simple mystery, a little humor and some good simple action. Then we go back in time to the year 932 C.G.I. There is narration and quick glossing over of exposition with a bad CGI battle that seems like less than. We then focus on Asgard which is flat and double sided and awesome looking. Until we see the pipe organ palace that sets off all the alarm bells in my head. The design seems too easy. All of it. There is very little attention to detail. Everything is smooth and basicly geometric which is fine, but WETA (God bless them) set a standard which we must adhere too, particularly for the big budgeted franchise movies. All the costumes look like fancy versions of store bought halloween costumes. A friend of mine wrote a great article about Thor's costume over the years in the comics. Here is the link:   There is also background about the character and the comics. Clearly The Ultimates influenced the design of Asgard. This is a shame. I would liked to have seen some more Norse and Celtic and pure badass Viking influences. Bryan Singer addressed the page to screen costumes of superheroes in the first XMEN brilliantly. Just because it works on the page doesn't mean it works on film. Although Loki looked so much better than I thought he would. Part of that is because Loki was amazing.

Tom Hiddleston seems to have come out of obscurity to his first step to a huge career. He was the most talented and interesting actor onscreen. Subtle, Nuanced and with a great character arc.

Natalie Portman was the second best. Playing her reality as well as the heightened situation. She was adorable and understated.

Chris Hemsworth was also great. He reminded me of Ledger, a lot. He had gravitas and charm.

Hopkins was 50% disappointing. He seems to be doing that a lot in his old age. The Other 50 was extremely powerful.

A big shout out to Kat Dennings, she elicited the first true audience reaction. Honest Laughter.

Colm Feore was wasted as the Frost Giant.
They sucked. The were boring. If you are going to design a creature as though it was from Star Trek, go ahead and don't do much of it in CGI. If you are going to go to the time of creating somethin in a computer make it good. I didn't get anything from their culture or biology that was interesting or intimidating.

Same goes for the Warriors Three and Sif. Who are they? Why should I care about them? If I missed the on sentence about their background in the film and had never read a comic I wouldn't know anything about them. ZERO character development.

When Thor gets banished to Earth, the movie becomes great. A small desert town is the background for this God's first trip to Earth. Humor and chaos ensue and the gravity of his situation sinks in.  This is the best part of the movie. Stan Lee's cameo is his best yet, reference's to the comic are great. The Donald Blake bit is superb. 

Clark Gregg and all the S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff is spot on with what we've come to expect and hits on par. They do love their Acuras and Burger King though.

Nothing terrible special happens. Thats the big problem. Hawkeye is introduced and it is really cool. I wish I hadn't known about it before hand.

The movie is bland and heartless at points. It seems generic to a point. And why was Rene Russo in it? Did she get bored? They final battle was great; Thor rests his hammer on Loki' which is awesome, and destroy's the rainbow bridge, leaving the woman he loves forever in doing so. Odin shows up there is a heartfelt moment, Thor wants to save his brother, but he generically falls into the green screen and it looks like crap just like all other movies. 

Basic Denouement.
The score was also Kirkland Brand.

The sound was great, I don't know why but I really really liked it.

One thing that bugged me was how easy Thor's magic was. We never really learned where it came form or why. I get the whole Magic and science as one thing. It makes sense when packaging this to the masses and it does explain some of the design elements, but I would like to know the history of it. Thor is less impressive as an alien than as a God. I don't like the idea of their being no magic in this universe, particularly if they are going to do do a Strange film.

I do want to say that whoever designed the Rainbow Bridge is a genius. There was a huge chance that it would look very Mario Kart. It did not. It looked like a digital bridge that was made with magic. WHich I am assuming thats what they were going for. 

In closing, I liked seeing the tree of the universe during the credits.
The little post credit teaser thing was a huge disappointment. It was lame and did not get me excited or geared up for what was coming next.

I think Thor will be more interesting in the dynamic of The Avengers rather than this Asgard. He was more interesting on Earth as a fish out of water than in his element. He will be a good foil for Steve, Tony, hopefully Bruce and the rest of the gang. I'm excited to see his dialogue with Fury. 

I wish Favreau would return for Iron Man 3. X-Men 3 wasn't very good and I think it's because the director changed. So often we get a third movie that isn't up to par with the previous installments. (we are all thinking about it but I won't way which one in particular is the worst offender. But it was a waste. I would like for the rest of what Marvel has planned to not be.

Punisher War Zone was atrocious. This is the only time I am going to get an opportunity to say it because I refuse to spend any more time on it.

Captain America looks like a better film. The cast is just as good if not better and if it is as good as Jumanji it will be great.  The fact that it isn't coming out Fourth of July weekend is ludicrous. Who in their right mind would rather see Transformers than Captain AMERICA that weekend?

This is long and has gotten off topic. So in closing:
Dear Marvel and Marvel Studios,

You are new to this game. Look at how DC went down the toilet and now Chris Nolan is revamping their whole line. Wonder Woman might not happen, (I sort of hope not), and you have been getting some shit reviews. Don't let Wolverine happen again. Get some people who know what they are doing to be in charge of everything, and don't worry about money because that turns things into the lowest common denominator. People will see your movies no matter what, make them so people want to see them over and over again.

Thank you.