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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thor hits the big screen with lightning and thunder! -- Thor Movie Review

Potato On-the-Go:

As someone who grew up in Marvel and DC superheroes, the movie adaptation of comic and animated characters always tickles my imagination.  I've always been excited how film greats can transform such elaborate characters, spectacular scenes and magnificent settings, well considering of course the cinematic license for some variations in the story.  Sometimes, I'm dissatisfied but most often, I am always left in awe -- Spider Man, Dark Knight, Iron Man, to mention a few.  But this time another superhero comes with a big bang and it's no less than THOR!

Thor is a superhero film based on a comic and cartoon character created by Marvel comics.  The Thor character, on the other hand, is a fictional superhero based on the Norse mythology's character Thor, who is the God of Thunder.  He was created by editor Stan Lee, scriptwriter Larry Lieber and artist Jack Kirby in August 1962.

In the 2011 movie adaptation of Kenneth Branagh, the film's director, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) plays the lead character, a brave yet narcissistic God of Thunder who lives in Asgard, one of the nine realms connected by the Cosmic Tree of Life.  His father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), the ruler of Asgard, after his long life of battles and reign, is about to relinquish his throne to Thor, one of his sons, when the kingdom's defeated enemy, Frost Giants led by Laufey (Colm Feore), resurfaced and posed threat to the kingdom.  Thor with his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and four of his friends and best warriors Sif (Jaimie Alexander), Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (Joshua Dallas) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano), retaliated disobeying the order of Odin.  This paved the way to Thor's exile to Earth, with his powers and mighty hammer stripped out from him, and eventually his sudden encounter with  scientists Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard).

As Thor face the challenges of living as human in Earth and learn the lessons that his father wants him to understand, Loki discovered a dark secret and orchestrated evil moves that will put Asgard, and its king Odin, in an extremely dangerous situation.  With the help of Heimdall, the Asgard warriors and Thor's friends searched for him in able for Thor to lead save their realm and his father Odin.  But will Thor, without his power and weapon, be able to defend Asgard and face and defeat the deadly enemies?

As the title of this post states, Thor hits the big screen with lightning and thunder, and will definitely leave a huge impact to moviegoers, both fans of the comic book and admirer of popcorn movies.

Why Lightning?  Well, first and foremost, the movie, like this natural phenomenon, is such a spectacular visual treat.  Thor's special visual effects can move us, letting us feel every bit of suspense, surprise, action and adventure.  Thor brings us into an entirely different but cinematically believable world.  But I suggest that viewers should watch the movie in IMAX or even 3D theaters, to complete the movie experience.  The movie preview sponsored by Solar Entertainment and United International Pictures was held in SM North EDSA's IMAX Theater.  And I experienced how the IMAX Theater can really provide more depth of the 3D effect, almost similar to a virtual reality.

The metaphor on lightning is also for Thor's magnificent production design.  From jaw dropping costumes to fantastic make-up, from creatively executed props to lavish set design, Thor  the movie elevated the grandness of the visual experience, notwithstanding of course the basic elements set by the comic book and cartoon versions.

Why Thunder?  Well, Thor's sound engineering comes with a bang!  The sound is truly an amazing cinematic experience.  We are as if inside the set of the movie, hearing the loud thunder, explosions, clash of weapons, wind and other sound effects.

I may also refer to small bits of humor injected in the film as part of the Thunder impact.  As we are mesmerized with the cinematic illusions and caught in suspense by the film's story, a few funny punchlines and stunts can hit the viewers anytime.  Thanks to Hemsworth's spontaneity and Portman's wit.

Acting wise, Hopkins, as expected delivered his character well.  Hemsworth showed promise while Hiddleston, from the very start, effectively portrayed his role which somehow betrays the supposed suspense of the story.  Well I don't know if it's a good thing or if that's the film's intention or if I'm just too observant on each character's facial expression and movement.  There's nothing significant in Oscar winner Portman's performance but her character definitely provided the lighter side of the film.

Editing wise, I particularly like how the film started, and how Thor's arrival on Earth was explained.  Then afterwards, it went the normal yet equally effective story telling route.

In terms of story, the very essence of the film is about selflessness, sibling rivalry, family and redemption.  But the backdrop on conflict, power, kingdoms and magical characters made the story bigger.  There are just a few points for improvement I would like to raise specifically for the screenplay.

I believe romance will surely spice up a film like Thor.  In fact, many viewers screamed at the romantic scenes of Hemsworth and Portman.  But I just think the love affair between Thor and Jane Foster needs some more build up so that the love expressed in the scenes could be more believable.

Loki is such a confused child, and it affected how the conflict is concluded.  I won't elaborate on this to avoid any spoiler.  But just try to look at it and share with me what you think went in his head. 

And lastly, When Thor arrived on Earth, his language is somehow alien to the people he got involved with.  But after a few scenes, he was able to adapt and understand the modern lingo.

The three points I raised are tolerable items because at the end of the day, I still believe that Thor is an awesome superhero movie.  And movies like this need not be over thought but enjoyed.  From a scale of 1 to 10 claps, I'm giving Thor a thundering 8 with fireworks in the sky!  =)

Released by United International Pictures through Solar Entertainment Corporation, Thor opens in Philippine theaters on April 29.  It opened in Australia on April 21 and will be released in other parts of the world on May 6.

By the way, please do not leave the movie house until the full credit roll is finished.  A very intriguing scene awaits the patient viewers.  =)


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