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.
Michael Jackson's friend and confidant Gary Pudney tells Access Hollywood that he and "The Gloved One" are working on a feature film about Edgar Allen Poe. The pop oddity plans to star as the father of suspense writing in The Nightmare of Edgar Allen Poe and is reportedly getting acting tips from his eccentric friends Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor. Still in the early development stage, the film is about the last days of Poe's life. Pudney said he and Jackson are working to get a producer for the project.
Jerry Seinfeld and his wife, Jessica Sklar, are expecting their second child, due early next spring, a spokesman for the comedian tells People.com. The couple already has a daughter, Sascha, born in November 2000. Seinfeld has reportedly succumbed to incorporating parenting into his stand-up comedy routine and earlier this year announced plans to publish a children's Halloween book, due out this September.
One-time Baywatch babe Yasmine Bleeth tied the knot this weekend with her boyfriend Paul Cerrito at the exclusive Bacara resort in California, according to People.com. Bleeth and Cerrito, you may recall, were both arrested last September in Michigan after police found cocaine in her purse while investigating a car accident. The two apparently met at the Malibu rehab facility Promises prior their arrest.
Actress Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane in the late '70s and early '80s Superman movies, is recovering from a broken pelvis she suffered in a weekend highway accident in Belfast, Maine, The Associated Press reports. Kidder's GMC Yukon rolled over several times after hitting some raised pavement. The 53-year-old actress was headed to Montreal when the accident occurred.
Judge Lloyd Nash granted more time Tuesday to actor Robert Blake and his bodyguard, Earle Caldwell, to prepare their defense against charges in the murder of the actor's wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, the AP reports. The judge, however, set a preliminary hearing date of Nov. 13 and declared it unchangeable. Blake is being held without bail in the shooting death of Bakley. He also is charged with solicitation of murder and conspiracy and faces a special-circumstance allegation of lying in wait. Caldwell is charged with a single count of conspiracy to murder and is free on $1 million bail that Blake posted.
Hollywood screenwriter Dean Riesner died Aug. 18 of natural causes at his Encino, Calif., home at the age of 83, Reuters reports. Riesner, a one-time child actor, came up with Clint Eastwood's all-time great lines "Do you feel lucky, punk?" and "Go ahead, make my day." Riesner is survived by several nieces and nephews.
TV writer Robert Dellinger sued Nicolas Cage and five companies behind the as-yet-unreleased feature film Sonny Tuesday for copyright infringement, Variety reports. The defendants include Intermedia, Gold Circle Films and its subsidiary Vortex Pictures, Pony Rides and Cage's production company Saturn Films, as well as Cage, screenwriter John Carlen and Vortex executive Paul Brooks. Dellinger said he and Carlen collaborated on several scripts, including the ideas behind the Sonny project, while they were serving time at Terminal Island federal prison in Los Angeles in the 1970s. The suit seeks $2 million in damages and the prevention of the picture's sale overseas.
The Walt Disney Co. is teaming up with Ice Cube for a sports-themed comedy feature film. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ice Cube wrote De-Fense and will produce the movie through his Cube Vision company with his partner Matt Alvarez, along with Disney-based Gunn Films and Andrew Gunn. De-Fense is described as a Bad News Bears set in the world of football.
Actress/singer Jennifer Love Hewitt will host the third annual Women Rock! Girls & Guitars concert at the Kodak Theatre on Oct. 10. The event, part of Lifetime Television's public awareness campaign "Stop Breast Cancer for Life," will feature a musical performance by Hewitt, whose fourth album is due out in September. The concert will air Oct. 25.