Finally, a little restraint. Oh, no, there was plenty of over-the-top action in Thor, not a whole lot of subtle nuance. I meant restraint on my part, as I think this is one of the first times I had a chance to see a film in IMAX and 3D, and turned both options down! Regular old 2D Thor for me!
Thor felt very different from the other comic book films we’ve had come our way. There’s no youthful nerd turned super-strong, or multi-billionaire geniuses building superhero equipment. From the start, you know that the space vikings of Asgard are basically awesome right away, and will stay awesome. That’s a good thing and a bad thing. I can’t fault Thor for being how it was. In fact, I enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t some heavy-handed film (not that I really thought it would be). But I also missed that sense of wonder of first gaining super powers, or learning how to use them. As much as I hate to admit it, I dig a good origin story. And while Thor was technically an origin story, it still just lacked the aura of discovery.
But it’s an entertaining film with good action sequences. The first battle scene with the frost giants is particularly good. I liked the way they handled the Thor character, everything from the casting to the costume was pretty spot on. I’m happy they didn’t make him a weak-minded moral creature. He was kind of an arrogant jerk. There are times when you question whether or not he’s even that good a person. So in that respect, I’m happy that this movie exists, if only to set up a great character to fill some shoes in the upcoming Avengers movie.
But the Asgard story and the Earth story seemed like two completely separate entities. It felt like two movies in one, only loosely bridged with an unnecessary narrative. Not that I particularly disliked either story, it just may have thrown off a little of the pacing. You get sucked into one aspect, only to have it potentially take an instant jump to a scene with no momentum in the other realm.
Casting/characters overall, very good. Could have used more Kat Dennings screen time, but less Kat Dennings dialogue. All of the Earth people just seemed like comic relief in the funny half of the story, but I guess I was fine with that. The first half of Thor’s visit to Earth is basically a straight up comedy film (in a good way). The romance between Natalie Portman and Thor was a little ridiculous, though. Seemed kind of forced and whatnot. I don’t wanna throw the sexist card out there or anything, especially for a fun movie like Thor, but it seemed like she only liked him because he was basically a super-strong male model. Attractive girls are ALWAYS going for the God of Thunder type, I guess… Never the pasty video editor type… I don’t know, a scientist version of Natlie Portman can do better, maybe? Thor is kind of a meathead. That and there was no real chemistry. Why can’t there be a super hero movie without a forced romance in it? I guess they need something for the female audience?
Well, regardless of whatever I said, Thor is a pretty good movie. At least it’s fun. I enjoyed myself while watching it, and was never once bored. But I question the future replay value. Right now I don’t really have the desire to see it again, but I’m glad I saw it this one time. And that I didn’t pay five extra dollars for 3D.
Oh yeah, and it’s the only movie around where you can see Rene Russo swinging a sword!
Re: Thor by Tim Wilson on May 9, 2011 at 5:59:07 pm
Big boo-boo on the 3D my man. One of the most rewarding 3D experiences I've ever had. Subtle where it should be, not subtle when it shouldn't. In some ways, a preview of EXACTLY how 3D should be done.
I was watching some of the basic narrative stuff and thinking, wow, this looks really natural. You'd have to be intentionally annoying not to want to make movies like this. It really is a storytelling element as much as music, color and sound -- and movies without those things are so forced as to almost have a strike against them before they start. Black and white --- ooh, so arty. Just like Sprockets. But not even Sprockets would have aired a movie with no music or sound.
And I say this as a guy whose favorite movie is from the 60s and in black and white, and another from the 30s in black and white. But I'm not talking about movies made 50 or 80 years ago.
We're not quite to the "forced artifice if you avoid it" stage with 3D, but I think we're going to get there in a fraction of the time it took for color to dominate black and white. Even if you choose the very conservative date of 1918 for the first color movies, it was nearly 50 years before pictures were more in color than not.
My favorite part of the movie was how little respect Thor was given. He was regularly tased, run over with cars, and ultimately his abs were shown more appreciation than his superpowers.
I have no problem believing in NP's googly-eyed infatuation with him, if still a bit overplayed....but his attraction to her had ZERO credibility with me. I wanted more of Kat for sure, and I think her dialog might have been my very, very favorite thing in the movie. She spoke for the audience, rolling her eyes exactly when we did, laughing at the same stuff we did.
THAT's what Marvel has always been about for me - heroes getting slapped around, sometimes even humiliated, with a lot of humor, and with respect for the audience. There's no sense that we should aspire to be these guys, or even necessarily respect them all that much. A good time is had by all BECAUSE it's a mess.
I'm not sure I'd give it much more than a solid B, maybe as much as a B+, but it was fun, and a highly recommended study of 3D. There are many, many more spectacular uses of it (just saw Hubble 3D in IMAX - breathtaking), but I thought that this one was just about right.
Not that I'd recommend seeing it again just yet. :-)
[Tim Wilson]"Big boo-boo on the 3D my man. One of the most rewarding 3D experiences I've ever had."
Dude, I absolutely knew this was going to happen! Time after time of sitting through mediocre-to-bad 3D films in theaters, wondering why I keep paying extra for it, and THIS weekend I finally put a stop to it. I was a broken-down theater-goer, and I depressingly just said "Ya know what, screw 3D..." And Thor actually turns out to be good 3D...? I'd be angry if I didn't find this situation to be rather humorous. I guarantee the next movie I see in 3D will not be good 3D. A cruel gamble this 3D has become! And I'm not going to go back and see Thor in 3D, because summer is here, and it's big release weekend after big release weekend for the next couple months... sigh.
Yeah I actually found Kat Dennings to be funny at first, but after a while I started to get annoyed. But I like (looking at) her, so I guess I didn't mind her overall. It seems like between Natalie-P, Kat-D, and the other guy; that trio could have been reduced to just two characters somehow.
And I agree about Marvel films, they are generally more fun, and treat their heroes with sort of a tasteful jest. In fact Marvel films are probably better than DC films in the modern comic book surge. More likable characters/movies in general for Marvel. But DC has The Dark Knight... so, well, how much power does just that one have for that side?
I think there are only two more big comic book movies this summer, one for Marvel (Captain America), and one of DC (Green Lantern). My hunch is that Cap America will be better. But based on the trailers, Green Lantern seems like the most "Marvel-y" DC Comics film in a while. And there's also Cowboys & Aliens, which is comic book film not based on a Marvel or DC comic. So we'll see. Or they could all be terrible...?! Who knows. I want Super 8 already!
Re: Thor by Tim Wilson on May 12, 2011 at 1:25:19 am
I have to confess that I have no freaking idea what Green Lantern is about, after multiple trailers, and multiple attempts to figure it out. I like Ryan Reynolds, and hope it's good, but for now, it just looks really ponderous. Full of portent. Not what I want in any kind of movie, based on comics or no.
The thing about Thor is that it may be the first post-conversion movie to stick the landing. This had to happen of course. Modern post is AWESOME. This was just a new problem that hadn't been licked. Not that it's 100% there, any more than 2D VFX are all the way there...but as a specimen, I like this one a lot.
The most comic book-y movie on my radar is Pirates of the Caribbean. I confess I skipped the third one, but the 3D trailer for the fourth one looked like a lot of fun.
And I don't care if Cowboys and Aliens is ONE d - I'm there.
But the movie I'm most looking forward to all summer is Harry Potter. There was about 20 minutes of 3D at the beginning of the sixth movie, and I thought it was really gorgeous. They were committed from the beginning to try to get it right for the finale, and I really hope they do. But even if the 3D bites, I am SO there, starting at midnight on opening day.
Tho, I wenth to thee Thor tonight. It wath excithing!
Actually, While the 3-D is effective here, what really grabbed me the most in the movie was the sound design. In true comic book style (in the highest sense), the clashes and clangs were epic and full of nuance, at the same time. Signature sounds for various items and effects were really well done and memorable.
(Babylon 5 creator) J. Michael Strazynski's script did an admirable job conveying an entire origin story and a good stand-alone tale. He also has a cameo as one of the townies in the film, cool. It is always difficult to adapt a book to the screen without mutating it so much you cheese off the hard core fan base. I think he pulled it off. Then again, I never followed Thor the comic closely except when he had a crossover with the Iron Man comics I read. I never cared for the Thor book, found it too heavy on mysticism, quasi-fantasy, and he-man action, with more scenery-chewing than usual. NTTAWWT. Just not my bag. Here, JMS has written an accessible Thor origin and Kenneth Brannagh directed in such a manner as to convey the epic sweep and grandeur, while making way for the smash-boom-ka-pow. I still don't think the TV promos for the movie strike quite the right tone to describe what you get, but I found it fun, and I'm glad I saw it on a big screen. It IS a big-screen kind of movie.
The other thing about Thor they got right was, emulating and taking inspiration in the shot and action sequence composition from the compositional style of Jack Kirby. In this case they swiped from the best, just like Stan:-) The camerawork is chockablock with Dutch Tilts and swoopy pans and offset frame balance, very much like the best panels of a good comic, brought to life.
The acting is broad, Hopkins seems to be the most subtle of the bunch but not by all that much. Portman's height kept the apple box wrangler busy, getting her face anywhere near Thor's. The Actor playing Thor is playing a blonde, steroided, and unapologetic Brad Pitt, with hints of Brannagh around the edges. This, I found refreshing from my overall impressions of Thor from the comics as stilted, overbearingly uptight and anti-fun, the kind of guy that poops marble. This is a young, proto-god version of the later, more serious Asgardian, and he's clumsy and goofy but earnest like a young colt. You want to see how he develops over time.
Saw the 3-d version of the trailer for Captain America, and it looks even more impressive than the internet version. Cowboys and Aliens looks like it will be fun. I will probably go see Green Lantern. I know very little about GL, never having followed the book. I think I was not impressed by the art in the few issues I ever browsed thru. I did enjoy the animated version on TV, and I know that one of my favorite still-living SF writers, Larry Niven, has written GL stories in the past. If Larry thinks its cool, I'm probably going to agree. I'm not a huge Ryan Reynolds fan, type casting from some of his other work... I think the suspense about the movie is if the comedic potential overrides the serious half of the story by using this actor. GL is not really meant to be taken as "campy".
[Tim Wilson]"I have to confess that I have no freaking idea what Green Lantern is about, after multiple trailers, and multiple attempts to figure it out."
From what I gather from a combination of the trailers and just flat out asking my friends who've actually read Green Lantern comics; basically it's about an intergalactic "police force" that finally has an intergalactic problem occurring on Earth, so they need to recruit a human (Ryan Reynolds) for the first time. So they give him super powers.
I forgot where I read this next thing, but it stuck with me, in reference to the amount of CG in the film (because even the Lantern's suit is completely CG): Once Reynolds goes into space and meets the space council, the film basically becomes a computer animated film. The only real thing in the shot is 65% of Ryan Reynolds face.
The main idea of the Lantern Corps as i understand it is that the ring lets you materialize thought, so you can make anything you can think of, out of the green energy, and give it form and a variable mass and inertial component. Thus, the shots of the giant green fist, or a gatling gun, etc.
For a writer, this presents a common problem, in that if your hero can literally conjure up any tool or weapon he can think of, he becomes kinda boring. Like Superman, if he's immortal and indestructible, there's little that you can do to him dramatically, in a direct sense: all the danger has to play off the people around him instead. lanterns AFAIK rd NOT immortal, and the rings need recharging from the railroad-light shaped lantern generator periodically, and green lanterns are nullified by yellow light, I've read, so Green Lanterns DO have weaknesses, which can become story fodder. But I think this issue of too many powers and too much invincibility is what sends me away from many comic book titles and towards more vulnerable characters like a Batman or Spiderman.
Wow, Ebert did NOT care for Thor much. Usually he and I are very like-minded on films, this is a rare divergence. From his review, it's like he just didn't "get it". I'm going to go on a limb and say Gene might have been more kind to the film by not asking as much of it.
But perhaps we approached it with different expecations. I won't say "lower expectations", because there is no excuse really for making a deliberately bad movie. I will say that I came looking to see the comic book character and story brought to life in a manner that resonated with the graphic origins, as I was familiar with them, and since I was only lightly "invested" in the previous property, I didn't have a tripwire reaction to shortcuts and compressions and small changes made to the original story in order to fit a screen time. Indeed, I Marveled (pun intended) that it was, for me, a pretty good portrayal of a typical Thor origin tale. Just because Brannagh directed it, is no reason to expect dialogue from or equivalent to Henry III. And I thought his fight direction was less spastic than many such we've seen recently, with longer shots that let you take in the action. I also don't know what the complaints about dimness were about: I saw it in 3-d and didn't have a problem with how bright it was. It was plenty bright where and as it needed to be. Some of that "darkness" is just a creative choice in the color timing to evoke the desired mood.
Anyway, I rate the movie about the same as Rotten Tomatoes does. Maybe Ebert had an off night on this one, I hope he looks at it again later in this summer of comics.
Re: Thor by Tim Wilson on May 21, 2011 at 7:33:36 pm
I'm a huge Ebert fan too, but I think he has an unhealthy anti-3D obsession. I almost think he's inclined not to like something 3D, even if he sees it in 2D.
That may be unfair, but I'm seeing a lot of this kind of thing. I'm too annoyed by Anthony D'Alessandro to link back to him, but I promise I'm copying and pasting...and I swear I don't think he's reading what he's writing.
Was 3-D an unreliable steroid when it came to boosting grosses? 60% of Thor’s receipts Friday or $15.4 million came from 2,737 3-D venues and an additional 214 IMAX. That’s a hearty share considering that it’s higher than the 56% Avatar pulled in on its opening weekend ($43 million of its $77 million came from 3-D) and lower than Tron’s 82% ($36 million of its $44 million).
So far we have: 3D wasn't enough to help Thor's box office...even though more people saw opening day in 3D than saw Avatar in 3D. What's the conclusion he draws in the very next sentence?
But could Thor have fared better at the B.O. completely in 2-D? The jury of distribution executives think it could.
Are you kidding me? "The jury" says that Thor would have made MORE money if it were ONLY in 2D?
Virtually every theater that showed Thor on a 3D screen also showed it on a 2D screen, so what are those execs saying? That Thor couldn’t overcome the “handicap” of a 3D release?
Are people who don’t like 3D really this angry? Specifically for Thor, are there really that many more "angry-at-3D" Marvel Comics fans who could have been talked down from the ledge by a 2D-only release? Imagine the conversation: "I love Thor, but I hate 3D so much that even the IDEA that ANYONE can see this in 3D means that I WON'T GO AT ALL."
Having said all that about 3D, I've reconsidered and am raising my original grade for Thor. I still hate that so many comic book movies begin with origin stories, a source of inevitable bloat, but the sound design really was fantastic. It was also LOUD, which I really like, even if the teenagers next to me sometimes covered their ears!!!
My favorite thing may have been the art design. The sets on Thor's home planet and the neighboring planet of the ice giants were amazing -- truly fresh takes on things we might have seen before (palace interiors, barren landscapes), in a way that gave real energy to what might have been pokier parts of the story.
PHENOMENAL portrayal of Loki, who we already know is going to figure prominently in The Avengers, another member of whom, Jeremy Renner's Blackhawk, we also got a brief and hilarious peek of. A tip of the hate to Kenneth Brannagh, who brought Shakespearean gravitas when needed, and sharply contemporary playfulness when that was called for too. An inspired choice of director.
Anyway, the more I think about it, the more I like it.
Finally watched Thor. I thought it looked dumb from the trailer, a guy who throws a hammer like a boomerang? But a lot of people like it so I thought I would give it a go. I was very happy with it. I love the funny parts mixed into the story, like when Thor is trying to get to his hammer and the guy up in the bucket ready to shot Thor says, "Do you want me to slow him down or do you want to send more guys in for him to beat up." Or when the Robot lands on earth and the one agent asks if that is Starks.
Stan Lee scene was awesome. that was great.
Did you notice the ad on the building? It was kind of like Night at The Museum where the poster has verbiage that deals with what is going on in the story. Love that.
As for Scott's comment, "The romance between Natalie Portman and Thor was a little ridiculous, though. Seemed kind of forced and whatnot. I don’t wanna throw the sexist card out there or anything, especially for a fun movie like Thor, but it seemed like she only liked him because he was basically a super-strong male model."
He was more then a meat head...he was a gentleman. I think it feels like most romantic comedies always has a women on the look out for Mr. Right. Every guys that is single is a loser that just wants some action and acts like a kid instead of a gentleman. If they don't fit that description they are married. Based on that idea Natalie Portman's charter has never meet a gentleman. Besides, what is wrong for liking a guy because he is a super-strong male model :-) She will never need to worry about opening a jar of pickles again.