01/01/2012. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
Region 2 DVD: pub: Paramount PHE 1448. 110 minute film with extras. Price: about GBP 9.99 (UK) if you know where to look. cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston and Anthony Hopkins.
check out website: www.paramount.com
Thor, the God of Thunder, in many respects is one of those odd cases where quasi-magic can be gotten away with in the Marvel Universe. Doctor Strange, for the record, is much more cause and effect because you do recognise what he is calling up in his incantations.
Oddly, the ‘Thor’ film rather successfully explains the Asgardians as beings from a different dimension who when visiting the Earth were seen as gods and accepted such imaginery into their own mythology despite not having returned for a long time. Much of the past millennia had been spent keeping the peace after a war with the Frost Giants and allowing Odin to raise his two kids, Thor and Loki, with the former heir to his throne. Oddly, there is no mention of Baldur, surely one of the most used supporting cast Asgardians in the comics, or any other siblings in the film when even lip service to their presence would at least have been welcome. Interestingly, Frigga (actress Rene Russo), Odin’s wife, gets more presence here than I ever saw in the comicbooks. I suspect paring it down as much as was to focus more on Thor and Loki and their levels of rivalry to be Odin’s most popular son where oddly we don’t see much of that attention played out to their subjects to see any preference.
Thor (actor Chris Hemsworth) fails miserably at this leading the Warriors Three (actors Josh Dallas, Ray Stevenson and Tadanobu Asano), Sif (actress Jaimie Alexander) and Loki (actor Tom Hiddleston) to Jotunheim to battle the Frost Giants and inadvertently breaks the peace. Odin (actor Anthony Hopkins) has to banish him to Earth, stripped of his powers and, as he later discovers, only when he is worthy can be reclaim his hammer. His arrival is noted by a small team of scientists, including Jane Foster (actress Natalie Portman), whom he befriends and, as he adapts to Earth customs, help each other. There are a couple nice touches here with him getting merry with one of the scientists and visiting a pet shop looking for a horse or anything large enough that he can ride to retrieve his hammer. Another nice touch is him being given the clothes of a Doctor Donald Blake, as well as his ID later to confound SHIELD, whom you would have thought would have cross-checked the photo. Although there is a hint of Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (actor Jeremy Renner) there is no name for the super-human strong man that Thor beats into submission.
Odin, meanwhile, has fallen into his Odinsleep and Loki takes the reins as ruler of Asgard and behind the scenes makes a deal with the Frost Giants, especially as he finds he’s related more to them than Odin. He briefly visits Earth and tells Thor that Odin is dead and as the new ruler he can’t refute the All-Father’s last order. The Warriors Three and Sif do get to Earth in time to help Thor fight against the Destroyer that Loki has sent to Earth and finally they return to Asgard. There Thor takes on both the Frost Giants and Loki and the rest you’ll have to watch for yourself.
Although the structure of the story is basically sound, I do think the brother against each other element is far too weak. It isn’t until three-quarters of the way through the film that Thor realises he’s been duped by Loki and in a position to do anything about it. The rivalry is hardly two-sided. Granted, Loki is a trickster but he seems to be doing without the magiks and stuff from the comicbooks and doesn’t really have much presence in the film compared to Thor himself who is a much better three-dimensional character. Not that this means Loki should have been a moustache twirling villain, just that he’s so flat and lacks presence. There is a strong hint that he’s going to be the villain in ‘The Avengers’ film which shouldn’t be that much of a surprise if it parallels the original comic’s first story anyway. Hopefully, something can be done to flesh him out there.
I hate saying this but director Kenneth Branagh’s audio commentary drones after a while and carries more technical info than reasons for some things. I mean, why are Volstagg and Hogun hat-less, even in battle. Let’s not even go as far as why Hogan is oriental which is a tad tokenism. Oddly, Heimdall as played by Idris Elba’s colour is less of an issue and it’s not as though I have anything against colour but it should extend to more than just a couple if there at all even if it contradicts the fact that the Norse gods never sailed that far even in their original mythology let alone the Marvel one.
Criticisms aside, this is still quite a roller-coaster of a film providing you don’t think too heavily on some aspects of the film.
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