Casting is a complicated business. You have to choose an actor with enough charisma and good looks to have audiences fall in love with them. You need someone with strong comedic or dramatic acting skills to deliver week after week. Then you have to factor in a person’s ability to handle the pressure, business, and the whole host of behind-the-scenes magic that goes into making television. But what if there is something else? Some shows can be utterly amazing and yet die a horrible death. Is it possible that some actors are just cursed?
Lowell is charming and has the perfect blend of approachability and sex appeal. Plus, he’s got dreamy blue eyes. And yet, he has starred in multiple failed shows. He started his television career on Life As We Know It. He played an awkward boyfriend to Kelly Osbourne’s buxom, outspoken high school girl. He was added as a series regular to Veronica Mars which was soon cancelled. Also, sad to say, Private Practice seemed to find its stride after they killed off his sensitive, junkie-loving midwife character, Dell. His upcoming series Enlisted looks like it may be quickly dispatched. If it was just a military ensemble comedy it could take off like the sleeper hit Brooklyn Nine-Nine. But the show looks like it has a bizarre Three Stooges sibling angle combined with its military premise. It brings flashbacks to the ill-conceived Goodwin Games.
Perry starred in Aaron Sorkin's follow up to The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Despite his success with Friends, Perry has had more than his share of failed series under his belt. Before starring on the popular '90s sitcom, he starred in multiple failed vehicles including Sydney with Valerie Bertenelli, Second Chance, and Home Free. He recently starred on the failed series Mr. Sunshine that was cancelled so fast it might be confused for the follow up, Go On. Unfortunately, Go On was actually a halfway decent series with a uniquely emotion-driven premise. Hopefully he can find a series that will exorcise Chandler Bing from his repertoire.
Gorham is talented, funny, charming, and has a set of abs like nobody’s business. He has starred on multiple amazing series with cult-followings that ended prematurely. He starred in Ryan Murphy’s first series, the high school comedy Popular. He played a time-traveling astronaut in the series Odyssey 5 and an enhanced man, Jake 2.0. He was in the suspense series Harper’s Island and the medical drama Medical Investigation. He was also one of the best guest stars on the prematurely canceled Ugly Betty. He even tried his hand at sitcoms in the hilarious sitcom Out Of Practice with Ty Burrell. He may have broken his losing streak with the Piper Perabo spy series, Alias Covert Affairs. He plays blind tech expert Auggie Anderson and the series has lasted four seasons.
Harrison is a gifted comedian and the right blend of awkward geek and dreamboat. However, he hasn’t been able to get a show to last. He starred in two seasons of the very funny series The Loop about a twenty-something in the work force. In Reaper, he played a burnout whose parents sold his soul to the devil. He joined the cast of the remake of V and the show was swiftly canceled. Breaking In was a pretty intriguing sitcom starring Christian Slater about a team of security experts comprised of gifted thieves, but it too didn't last.
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.