'Thor' Will Leave You Thunderstruck
by Chauncey Telese
Hello everyone, sorry for the bad AC/DC reference in the headline. I hope you all had a wonderful drinko de mayo (or to some, Mexican St. Patrick’s Day) either way I hope you all enjoyed some margaritas and some La Cocina. The time is 3:00 am and this morning’s keep me awake album is The Smashing Pumpkins “Greatest Hits” and boy, what a week, right?
I mean first Obama and Seth Myers roasted Trump (among other things) at the Correspondent’s dinner, then the Memphis Grizzlies upset the Thunder, then Dwayne Wade made the Celtics look dazed and confused, then a lot went down on “Game of Thrones” (by the way it was great to see Carcetti from “The Wire” in the last episode). For some reason I missed the end of “Celebrity Apprentice” because of some newsbreak I don’t know, I wasn’t paying attention.
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The Capitals once again choked in spectacular fashion. Season two of “Justified” ended not only with the show elevating itself to the upper echelon of TV, but with with Mags Bennett drinking the “apple pie” and meeting her demise and Raylan finding out that he’s going to be a daddy and that he can never leave Harlan. Cartman almost got to take home a human CentiPad and the funny bot buried Tyler Perry underground. Greendale turned into a spaghetti western and I’ve hit the panic button on my Lakers because apparently the Navy Seals aren’t teaching the Lakers how to shoot because in crunch time the Seals have proven they can get the job done. Seriously, it can’t end like this can it?
With Kobe looking frustrated, Artest looking to give back his humanitarian award, Fisher looking like he’s a chalk outline, Phil looks like he’s already in Montana and Gasol looking like he’s about to grow out the beard and wander the streets like Ron Burgundy. Tonight’s game will tell me all I need to know, but for the first time in a while I’m very pessimistic. Dirk is looking too good right now and the Lakers aren’t.
By the way, I alluded to it above but what a great week for America! That was honestly the best news I’ve heard in awhile (and made me hum the “Team America” theme song). It’s nice to know that while politically things are as murky as ever and yeah a lot of people are hurting economically, and there is still plenty of evil in the world, it is nice to know that we can all unite and rejoice when a major piece of evil is taken off the planet. I know some feel it’s terrible to unite over this type of news but, to quote Jon Stewart “I know I should express some ambivalence at the ordered killing of another human being and yet, no.” In summation, U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
Okay, enough of the serious stuff and onto the next offering of summer escapism. Marvel has three movies ready to go this summer and two of them are meant to set up next year’s colossal “The Avengers” and this is one of them. Marvel certainly has gotten more ambitious over the last few years. “Thor” by itself is not an easy work to adapt because it deals with a lot of mythology and takes place primarily on Earth and the realm of Asgard.
The story could’ve been too bogged down in the mythology and the nods towards “The Avengers” and forget to make the audiences care about Thor, Odin, Jane Foster, and Loki, but because Marvel isn’t stupid, they made sure that didn’t happen. They have successfully made a movie that appeals both to geeks and people looking for a good time this weekend. They made sure that all of the effects serve the story and create worlds that are wholly unique and dazzling, every actor is invested in their part and in no way does anyone look like they’re in it for a check and the story balances action, myth, comedy, romance, and drama. It takes itself seriously enough to make us invest in these people and wants us to come back for more. I suppose you can say it’s the anti “Fast Five” in that way.
By the way, quick tangent, I realize that “Fast Five” isn’t for everyone, but I got into an argument with someone at school who got upset because I said it’s an awesome movie and everyone is in on the joke. This person tried to challenge me on the fact that it should be a joke and that seems to be an excuse for bad filmmaking and that it movies like that are nothing but capitalism. Those types of people annoy me and make me feel like a jerk for enjoying popcorn movies because they don’t allow themselves to have any fun whatsoever. Ok, tangent over, back to “Thor.”
For those unfamiliar with the story of “Thor,” Thor (played by the charming Chris Hemsorth) is the Norse God of thunder and the son of Odin (played here by Anthony Hopkins), heir to the throne of Asgard and has an adopted brother Loki (played by Tom Hiddleton) who, for those of you who haven’t seen “The Mask,” is the God of Mischief. At the beginning of the story, Thor is arrogant and thinks only with his brawn and his hammer, Mjolinr. After Thor disobeys Odin and invades the realm of the ice giants after they mysteriously gain entry into Asgard (Thor’s realm), Odin strips him of his power and sends him and the hammer to Earth, more specifically, to New Mexico. The hammer cannot be lifted by anyone who isn’t worthy of its power and is thus stuck in the ground.
Thor is now a mortal and meets astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her partners Erik (Stellen Skaarsgard), and Darcy (Kat Dennings). They are obviously confused and fascinated by him and Jane recognizes that something is special about him while Erik and Darcy think he’s just crazy. At first, Thor tries to act like he is still a god, but is humorously humbled at every turn. Meanwhile, Loki takes advantage of Odin’s sudden transition into a regenerative sleep and stakes his claim at the throne. Also, the hammer is discovered by S.H.I.E.L.D and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) is intrigued by Thor as he tries to get the hammer back. Thor and Jane begin to fall in love with each other and he begins to understand what it is to be human which obviously leads him to get his power back.
I don’t want to give away much else. Chris Hemsworth seemed like an odd choice for Thor, considering I only knew him from the beginning of “Star Trek” as Kirk’s dad and not much else. He proves that he is definitely capable of starring in a big movie and plays Thor with a ton of charisma and charm, though most of that does stem from his chemistry with Natalie Portman. She also does a terrific job getting us to become as interested in Thor as she is and not just because he’s ripped but he is unlike anyone she (or any of us) have ever really encountered.
Hiddleton’s Loki is played well enough so that we understand that his jealousy stems from a real place. Loki isn’t as strong as his brother and must rely on his intelligence to get by and this never warrants him the respect he feels he deserves. We are able to feel his pain and insecurity and he never falls into cartoon super villain territory. Hopkins is Hopkins, and even though the minor role of the gate keeper Heimdall is given to Idris Elba, any time I can see Stringer Bell in a movie, life is good.
As I mentioned before, the visuals are dazzling. Asgard is a beautiful fantasy realm decked out in lots of gold (rococo if you will) with waterfalls, a rainbow bridge and lots of bright colors that leap off the screen. The realm of the ice giants is conversely a cold and dreary place and the amazing visuals they do with the traveling between realms and space is breathtaking, adding lots of tremendous production value. The script balances everything I listed above quite well and weaves in a lot of references to various Marvel heroes (by the way, stay to the end because it sets up part of “The Avengers”) and the action sequences, while few, are fun to watch.
I had a blast with “Thor” and judging by the reactions of the midnight crowd and my buddy Grant (all of whom are way bigger nerds then I am) it will be a major crowd pleaser and poised to make a ton of bank this weekend and sustain for a long time (though obviously Pirates 4 will knock out of the top spot but whaddya gonna do, it’s Jack Sparrow right?). I highly recommend this movie to anyone, whether they know comics or not. Besides do you really want to see “Something Borrowed” or “Jumping the Broom”? No, I didn’t think so. I also want to wish my friend Justin a Happy 22nd Birthday even though technically it was Wednesday.
Also this weekend Tina Fey hosts SNL and Sunday is Mother’s Day and on behalf of all guys everywhere I wanted to say that without all of the moms out there we’d be about as lost and frightened as Pau Gasol. To my editor Carol I hope your kids shower you with gifts because after having to edit my sleep deprived grammar and sifting through my hate mail you deserve some R & R (and I don’t mean rum and Ritalin) To my mom Renee, I wanted to say I love you and that I appreciate all that you’ve done and continue to do for me even though I can occasionally be crabby (her words not mine). Thank you for being my biggest fan and the greatest mom in the world (no offense Carol, I’m a tad biased) Editor’s note: None taken, thanks for the shout out. But to all of the moms out there, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
Okay, the time is 4:06 and I must sleep. Thank You for reading and stay tuned as I become one of the “Bridesmaids” and then get married in a big cathedral by a “Priest”. As always you can see these and other fine films at your local Edwards.