The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
7:50: I'm ready to start this. I've just finished some leftover Chinese food, and now I'm ready to tear some people apart. Good thing I'm not at my own apartment because my old neighbor Madeline would surely stop giving me lemon tarts every week after a full night of screaming for more shots of Christina Hendricks.
7:51: Ah, commercial. Back to Law and Order: SVU to watch Robin Williams reboot his One Hour Photo creep.
7:59: HERE WE GO! BRING ON THE LOSERS!
8:00: OHHHHH snap just show me Tina Fey and I'll play along. Kate Gosselin, not so much.
8:01: NICE. BETTY WHITE AND JON HAMM. I'm liking this more than the cold noodles I just ate. Oh look! Jane Lynch's wax figure.
8:05: I really like this and everything, but if Conan O'Brien isn't there, I almost don't even want to watch anymore.
8:06 It's funny, I know I'm supposed to be looking at Jimmy Fallon, but I just keep going back to the guy from Lost who was in the news recently about something who had to do with Weezer.
8:07: January Jones is sitting next to Jason OMG CONAN IS THERE!
8:09: Ah yes, a montage of a year in comedy. Set to Chris Brown. Too perfect.
8:11: Is this the first category? Betty White looks like some kind of gradient you use in a Microsoft paint application.
8:13: Eric Stonestreet's rockin that "what's in his tux pocket?" look. So is Seacrest, incidentally. Aw, parents.
8:15: Can I just say thank Prosecco that it's not Jon Cryer?
8:18: Sofia Vergara's supposed to run naked if Modern Family wins. If she does, I suspect you'll check out a little bit early from this and I'll get to go do something crazy, like put on my Thundercats t-shirt.
8:21: Modern Family won best writing. Cool. Why did we go from Best Supporting Actor to best writing?
8:23: Every time I update this I just realize how I have 2 more hours to do this. It's like waiting for a plane that keeps getting delayed, and you're not in a cool city like Manhattan, Kansas.
8:25: BADASS, JANE LYNCH! BADASS. Thank your wife, Jane.
8:27: Matthew Perry's coming on? Where has he been? What, they couldn't get the cow that stands outside Stew Leonard's?
8:31: Oh, I see Lauren Graham was available.
8:33: Ryan Murphy for Best Directing, yeah, I see that. I also see that tux.
8:37: Alright bitches, let's slab some lube on Steve Carell and give him something new to play with.
8:38: WELL SHIT! JIM PARSONS FOR BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY. I don't get this one. Is he even strong enough to be wearing that tie?
8:40: Do I have any designated pee breaks while I'm doing this? I forgot to ask my boss. Maybe this commercial for "You Again" is the best one I'll get.
8:44: I feel like Jimmy isn't even in this. Where's the tweeting? AAAAND Neil Patrick Harris brings the first funny joke of the night.
8:45: Nice! Edie Falco just schooled Tina Fey and Lea Michele. That's her fourth Emmy! She's tied with Tina now, I think! What's the point of Jimmy Fallon's guitar? Is there a theme? Was I drinking when they tried to make it obvious?
8:49: Ah yes, Top Chef for best reality program. I can really say I've never watched this show because nobody ever breaks up with anybody. Padma looks like she just had Angelina Jolie/Billy Bob Thorton limo sex with the baby-daddy we know but kind of don't -- the one who invented Dell or something.
8:52: Lots of commercials for Oprah's last season. I feel like this award show is already so bipolar the Oprah stuff is overkill.
8:59: I will be VERY SURPRISED if Connie Britton and/or Kyle Chandler win. But this cliché montage music...WAIT. THE END OF LOST IS A MASS SUICIDE?! That dog must've been pretty pissed if he'd been there since the plane crashed.
9:04: NICE. Aaron Paul for Breaking Bad. This guy looks so ADD, but cool.
9:05: Did he even thank his mother? I know he told her to stop crying, but that just shows you how ADD he really is.
9:10: Wow, I have nothing to contribute about Archie Panjabi's win for The Good Wife. So instead, here's some video of a shih tzu puppy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpjyCE-R4Y4 My boyfriend doesn't have Firefox, so I can't actually put the link in this post. But I promise you, it's worth the trouble of copying and then pasting into a new window. TRUST.
9:13: AWESOME. Bryan Cranston won his third Emmy. I seriously just started watching Breaking Bad yesterday, and to Michael C. Hall, whom I love: you deserve recognition too. Maybe go have a kid?
9:22: If Dexter only gets an award for Best Director, I will never watch another Emmys again.
9:23: If Jimmy Fallon's going to do this, he might as well go back to SNL. Seriously. JIMMY! HAVE YOU HIDDEN YOUR BALLS IN SOME STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE? Oh, I take it back. Boys II Men. Very nice.
9:27: AVON AVON AVON.
9:30: AVON AND WHISKIES.
9:31: These Twitter updates Jimmy Fallon keeps giving almost make me want to quit Twitter. Wow, Kyra Sedgwick for The Closer! Nobody saw that coming. Not even Paul the Octopus! WAIT SHE JUST PASSED HER EMMY OFF TO TINA FEY! Kyra, you got some bitch in you!
9:34: Do you think she's going to make Kevin Bacon do the Footloose dance tonight in celebration? It's such a waste if she doesn't. He even pimped it out for an episode of Will and Grace!
9:35: VARIETY! CONAN'S CATEGORY! WHAT SHALL I DO IF HE WINS? OH GOD, PLEASE LET HIM WIN. I WILL SIT DOWN IN SOMEONE'S BEDBUG-RIDDEN APARTMENT IF HE WINS.
9:37: Oh, nevermind. Writing for a variety special. Go back to watching some shih tzu puppies.
9:40: Did this asshole just thank Jay Leno?
9:43: How do you guys think Conan is passing the time while he's there? Do you think he's playing Tetris or something? He hasn't been tweeting.
9:46: Ricky Gervais should just do a vampire show already. Now that he's so skinny, your eyes immediately go to his Edward teeth.
9:47: Ah yes, Ricky Gervais does a Mel Gibson joke. "Not worse than the Jews!" he says! Stellar. Not even worse than when you walk into Pets on Lex because you're hungry and you find every puppy that's there in a dead puppy sleep.
9:51 OH SNAP IT'S HERE. I HOPE COCO SAVED HIS TETRIS GAME. THAT SHIT'S A BITCH TO START OVER.
9:53: OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO'WEFHIAOWR723057208YFJNASDMVNMCXZV.NASDKLJF;EW857429---DWRU I;FDSHAF;ASHG;AGY8EWAOPTY9WPQT5729357Q2PIUE'WJFEIJIAKOFJLAKS;HFLAHREOIWRYOIWEYRDKVNSKLNVLFASKHFOAIWEYRO3YO3ITHASHGDSAKLFNLKSDFOIHOWA;IEHR;WOIH;OAEIHTO;AHW;OIASHGO;ADYG
9:53: JON STEWART. AND HE'S NOT EVEN THERE TO ACCEPT IT. I CAN'T BELIEVE I HAVE AN HOUR LEFT OF THIS.
9:57: I can't even enjoy a commercial for Nate Berkus' new show now.
10:00: And now I have to watch George Clooney accept something he'll probably lose on a plane when he's going to stay at his villa in Italy? Please.
10:01: Betty White even stood up to honor George. It just got like a vomitorium all up in here.
10:04: Does anybody watch these "mini-series" or "movies" things?
10:10: That commercial for Jimmy Smits playing a lawyer for Outlaw did less for me than Kim Kardashian's Twitter background.
10:17: GAMECHANGER! JEWEL! PLEASE TELL ME SHE'S GOING TO MISUSE THE WORD 'CASUALTY' AGAIN!
10:26: I think it just hit me that John Slattery didn't win for Mad Men.
10:30: Claire Danes for the win for Temple Grandin. She didn't thank her husband. Downgrade. Now I'm going to go back to googling whether or not Roy Disney was an anti semite.
10:35: Alexander Skaarsgard is officially Jack Skellington. If you don't know who that is, you don't get me and you never will.
10:38: Very nice, Al Pacino for You Don't Know Jack.
10:45: Laurence Fishburne! How's it going brother?! No Montana tonight? That's okay, she's probably studying algorithms.
10:51: Mad Men's third Emmy! I'd like to make a joke about how Fred Armisen deserves and Emmy for having been married to Scientologist Elisabeth Moss for 10 months, but I already took a crack at Jewel and I've gotten lazy after doing this for 2 hours and 53 minutes.
10:57: Who's this goat (thanks EB) and what did he do with Ted Danson! AAAND UPSET! MODERN FAMILY FOR BEST COMEDY SERIES!
10:59: AAAAAAAAAND I'm spent. Remember to tip your lobotomist and visit Hollywood.com for the latest and greatest on awards you'll never win.
Actor Robert De Niro will be hosting 9/11, a CBS special on the World Trade Center attacks of Sept. 11. The two-hour program will feature exclusive footage from inside the complex, shot by two French brothers, Gedeon and Jule Naudet, who were at ground zero filming a documentary when the attacks happened. They were the only ones to capture the first plane hitting the World Trade Center.
De Niro is co-founder of the Tri BeCa Film Center, which is located just a few blocks from ground zero. Widely considered the quintessential New Yorker, De Niro was chosen as host for his long-standing association to the Big Apple. The show will air Sunday, March 10, at 9 p.m.
Latino singing sensation Gloria Estefan will help bring a little salsa to the Olympic Games closing night ceremonies Feb. 24 in Salt Lake City. Estefan will be singing a medley of her greatest hits, and won't that be fun?
ShoWest 2002 has picked Jennifer Lopez as their female star of the year. She'll be feted March 7 at ShoWest's gala awards in Las Vegas. Last year's recipient was Sandra Bullock.
Another match made in pop-singer heaven: Pop artist Jessica Simpson, 21, has announced her engagement to Nick Lachey, 28, of boy band 98 Degrees. No wedding date has been set.
Former Playmate and MTV queen Jenny McCarthy will be getting a dose of reality soon enough. She and her husband, director John Asher (Showtime's Going to California), are expecting their first child in June.
Bob Dylan's 1965 collection Highway 61 Revisited, Willie Nelson's 1975 breakthrough album Red Headed Stranger and Bing Crosby's popular single, "Swinging On a Star" were just some of the 55 recordings inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame on Thursday.
NBC Studios and the Jim Henson Co. have discussed a deal to develop and produce an original Muppet movie for this year's holiday season. It's a Wonderful Muppet Christmas will blend parodies of classic Christmas films with feature guest shots and cameo appearances from NBC stars. Plus, Kermit the Frog will apparently kiss Miss Piggy full on the snout.
Stop the presses! Joan Collins, 68, will be taking the marriage plunge--for the fifth time--this weekend. She'll wed her much younger paramour, 36-year-old Peruvian-born theater company manager Percy Gibson, at London's Claridge's Hotel.
Jada Pinkett Smith, the pixie-cutie married to recent Oscar-nominee Will Smith, says she and Will carry on like every day was Valentine's Day. "I know this might sound a little cheesy but we really try to celebrate Valentine's Day every single day," Pinkett Smith told The Associated Press. "We don't wait for the 14th to come around. We really, really try to do it every single day." That's sweet. Delusional, but sweet.
In a ruling Thursday, British pop singer Robbie Williams lost his copyright battle with Ludlow Music, who charged that Williams' song "Jesus in a Camper Van" substantially copied from the Woody Guthrie song "I Am The Way." The defendants will be expected to hand over 25% of the royalties earned from "Jesus in a Camper Van," as well as pay for all legal expenses.
Actress Jami Gertz, best known for her recent stint on Fox's Ally McBeal, is set to star as comedian and former SNL star Gilda Radner in ABC's movie It's Always Something: The Gilda Radner Story. Radner died of ovarian cancer in 1989. ABC plans to air the movie this spring.
The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint Wednesday to shut down Access Resource Services Inc. and Psychic Readers Network, the companies responsible for those popular psychic hotlines currently being hawked on television. The FTC objects to their rampant deception, and included a suit against the service's spokeswoman Youree Dell Harris, known as "Miss Cleo." Harris now has to prove she is a clever shaman from Jamaica. I guess she can't quite predict everything.