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Thor: Marvel's Triumph



I have a confession to make. Thor is my favorite of the solo Avengers movies. I realize that a lot of people will disagree with me. I even realize that technically Iron Man is probably the better movie. I don't care. For someone raised on a diet of Willow, the Beastmaster, the Hobbit cartoon, etc. Thor is the movie that really excites me. It pushes all of my buttons and was the only Marvel movie prior to the Avengers that I saw twice in the movie theater. The funny thing was that it was also the movie that I dreaded the most. There was so much that could go wrong and with the stance of all the movie creators up to that point being that comic book movies needed to be made "real" or the public wouldn't accept them I feared what they would do to Thor. Yet, the final product proved what I thought all along. If you don't shy away from the material and if you just have all the actors act as if they believe it then you'll be fine.

It doesn't hurt of course if you have a fine cast. You can't say enough good about Sir Anthony Hopkins as Odin of course. The casting there was truly inspired. Chris Hemsworth was a fantastic find. He's got the tone for Thor but he isn't just a musclebound brute. The man can act and he goes from being a cocky braggert to playing true fear, deep sorrow, and finally a selfless hero. Tom Hiddleston is of course fantastic as Loki. He also has to play a fairly deep character. He truly loves his parents and Thor but at the same time he's jealous of his brother and when the issue of his parentage come up we can see his jealously flare to such a degree that he needs to prove his worthiness as a son. Some of it is obvious. Some of it is subtle but he's a man who understands nuance and his performance is fantastic. I also need to give props to Colm Feore who played Laufey in a very creepy way. I liked that as a villain he still had some thought of the horror of war and gave Thor the chance to back down from what he'd started. I should also give a shout out to Ray Stevenson, Josh Dallas, and Tadanobu Asano for bringing to life the Warriors Three, Voluminous Volstagg; Dashing Fandrall; and Grim Hogun. They brought three of my favorite comic book characters to life and I am really happy with the result. Kat Dennings of course steals the show as Darcy and I love so many of her comments like telling Jane that "legally this is your fault" after they hit Thor or smiling while saying "yes I did" when admitting to the hospital that Darcy tased Thor.

On that subject this whole movie is fun. In some ways it veers a little to far into camp. I often say that everything that happens in Asgard in this movie is perfect but sometimes we have problems on Earth. Yet the fun is there because it seeks to alleviate the tension of some pretty dark stuff. I've already mentioned how Darcy is chiefly used for this purpose and a few more of my favorite moments of her are when they find out that Thor has left the hospitol and they're going to have to look for him and Darcy immediately whips out her taser. Then it gets even better when they hit Thor with the car again. I also really love it when Thor discovers that the petshop has no horses but has birds, cats, or dogs he asks for one big enough to ride. It puts a smile on my face as long as it doesn't go to far.

I also think that visually this movie is stunning. Asgard is fantastically realized. I absolutely adore that first shot when you're moving through space and come upon the underside of Asgard. Then everything flips and you are there in Asgard and it looks just as fantastic and wonderful as it was ever realized in the comics. I also think that the costumes are fantastic. They may not be picture perfect to the comics but they're pretty close and they at least look like armor that someone might actually wear. The Frost Giants look great. Their size and their manipulations of ice are really well realized and I love the epic battle scene in the beginning of the movie. The Destroyer also looks great and its sheer destructive potential is so beautifully rendered on that town in New Mexico. I also absolutely adore the main theme for Thor. It's definitely my favorite comic book theme music and it has that epic majesty that any good fantasy movie should have. It is just way to good.

The movie itself is fantastic because they realized that it needed to be about character. I am so happy that they got Kenneth Brannagh to direct. Making this a movie about fathers and sons helps to ground the movie in a reality that we can all relate to. Yes, Asgard is larger than life. But Odin is a man who feels like he needs to teach his son some manners. Loki is someone who loves his brother but feels that he has always been in his shadow and doesn't understand why Thor is favored when he, Loki, is the smarter of the two brothers and in his mind the one more fit to rule. His discovery that he is adopted crushes his world as I'm sure there is the potential for with any adopted child. Yet this only heightens his jealousy towards Thor and increases his desire to prove himself to his parents. The subtlety of Loki's manipulations are so well done. I like how he goads Thor into going to far even though he is surprised by the extent of Odin's punishment. I also love how he manipulates Thor on Earth to keep him away once he learns that Odin may have left Thor a way back. His need to be acknowledged as the leader comes out with his discussion with Heimdall and his insistence on having him call him King tells you a lot about the character. Then the twist is so fantastic when you learn that his goal is not to kill Odin for lying to him but to kill all the Frost Giants and he feels that by giving his father that gift that he'd be acknowledged as the better son, destroying his heritage and at the same time removing the threat of war. Then it all culminates in that wonderful fight between he and Thor. It's a fight that Thor should win hands down but it's because he doesn't want to fight and because Loki is so driven to best Thor that he gives it his all that the fight works as the brothers struggle with their love and animosity for each other and over doing what's right and what they want to do. Because this story keeps on coming back to the characters and keeps on coming back to their emotions I feel that this movie really works and is an amazing example of what a comic book movie can be.

Some people say that the romance doesn't work but there I'll disagree. At this point it's just a mutual attraction kind of thing and there are some sweet moments between Sif and Thor. They're not pledging themselves to each other. They just like each other and there's plenty of time for that to develop. People also say that the humility doesn't work. There I partially disagree. When I first saw it I felt like they should have truncated time and made it seem like Thor was on Earth for months or maybe even a year. The Odinsleep is supposed to last a long time and it could be that it took a year under Loki's reign before the Warriors Three decide to go to Earth. That would have helped to put Thor in a more menial position where you really feel like he's learned some humility. Yet in the rewatch I have to say that in his arc of going from an arrogant brat that doesn't care about the consequences to anyone else because he's confident of how much of a warrior he is to giving up his own life so that everyone else must live that that is the ultimate act of humility. He has just put his own life as the lowest thing and I think that scene where he talks to Loki through the Destroyer is very well done.

There are some things that disappointed me. Thor's best friend and Sif's brother, Baldur is nowhere to be seen and I'm kind of surprised that they couldn't find a place for him in the movie at all. I don't understand how Jane could say that the atmospheric disturbances were like clockwork when they are supposed to be triggered by the bifrost. Does someone really travel from Asgard to somewhere else on a regular basis and somehow Thor gets transported to Earth at exactly the same time as the thing would be regularly used? If that's so then Thor was kind of silly for picking that moment to go to Jotenheim instead of waiting for a time when the thing wouldn't be in use by someone else. They mention that the battle with the Jotens when Thor and Loki were babies was the last war but Thor talks about leading the Warriors Three to great battles. Who were they fighting? For that matter if Thor and Loki were babies during the Viking period then why are their myths about Thor the powerful warrior and Loki the trickster. Maybe they should have read some of those books and realized that Loki may be up to no good! They mention a few times that Thor is bereft of his powers but other than the fact that he doesn't have his hammer this doesn't seem to the be the case. He's able to fight off a dozen guys at the hospital and still seems to be superhumanly strong. I think that his depowerment should have been a bit more apparent. I do think that the hammer flying into Thor's hand is a major copout. It's whoever is worthy can lift the hammer, not whoever is worthy the hammer will sense it and fly to your hand. It would have been relatively easy to have the fight go out into the desert with Thor leading the destroyer away and then with his last desperate act as the destroyer beats him he grabs at the hammer and suddenly he's able to lift it free. Also, I realize that the real fight here is the emotional one between Thor and Loki and they didn't want to waste to much time on the Destroyer but it is defeated way way way to easily once he gets the hammer.

I am disappointed that the teaser was pretty much just a tease. I also noticed that they changed it somewhat from the theater. In the theater Selvig's reflection was replaced by Loki's but here Loki is next to Selvig in the reflection and repeats what Loki says. It's a subtle distinction but it helps to clarify what's going on there. I do wish though that the idea of Fury coveting the power of the tesseract had been better utilized in The Avengers. It would have given them a good reason for a clean break with SHIELD which I think is important for the Avengers so that they can be their own organization and I like the idea that maybe Fury can't be trusted. They played with it a little in the Avengers but didn't really go with it.

So yeah all in all I thought this movie was fantastic and it became the basis for the Avengers, which I really think was Thor 2 since so many of the plots carried over into that film. To me this was the movie that showed me the potential that the Avengers had and it remains my favorite solo outting from Marvel studios.

The blu-ray is great. It has director's commentary as well as deleted scenes with director's commentary. There are also some great featurettes on the making of the movie. My only gripe is that there is no featurette on the history of Thor as a comic character which is something that every Marvel DVD before this had for the first outting of any character even the ones done by other characters. There's also lots of stuff about the CGI, makeup, and visual appearance of the movie but nothing about the evolution of the story which makes me a bit sad, but oh well it's still a really great blu-ray with plenty of extras. Oh there's also the Coulson one-shot which helps to explain the ending of The Incredible Hulk and retcons it back into The Avengers movie continuity.

9/10

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