Here’s a probably too-late-to-be-useful not-review of “Thor“, but first …
Lots o’ cool stuff coming to Netflix Streaming these days. They just announced a deal with Miramax today that will have a host of new titles, including my favorite flick of the ’90s, “Pulp Fiction”, streaming to your TV.
A couple of cool items on Netflix right now:
If you haven’t seen it, in which case I’m wondering if you spent the last year in a coma, or being held in suspended animation in Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, it’s a great, fun, flick. A tale about the adventures of a wanna-be superhero, the film draws a lot of its win via a show-stealing performance from Chloe Moretz, as the incredibly bad-ass, and hilariously potty-mouthed, Hit Girl.
- “Sherlock“, Season One
A modern re-imagining of Conan-Doyle’s detective, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a young, brilliant, and unbelievably eccentric Holmes (“I’m not a psychopath, I’m a high-functioning sociopath; do your research”.) This 3-parter aired late last year on PBS Masterpiece. It was pretty much a universal hit, and a second series is filming now.
Sorkin’s failed, semi-autobiographical, series about a recovering coke addict/TV Producer (Bradley Whitford) getting back on his feet with a new TV show, and an old production partner (Matthew Perry.) It’s smart, it’s funny, and is a must-see for anyone who works, or wants to work, in the Entertainment Industry. It also one season before NBC pulled the plug. I totally ❤ the Christmas show, featuring a mind-bending brass version of “O, Holy Night” performed by a bunch of Katrina survivors, as well as Whitford’s running attempts at trying to ❤ Amanda Peet’s character.
Now, on to “Thor” …
I loved Thor. Thor was brilliant (mostly), and the seemingly strange decision to have Kenneth Branagh direct the film was an added bit of brilliance on the part of the studio.
Branagh seemed like an odd choice to direct a comic book adaptation like “Thor”, until you take into consideration his early efforts at adapting and directing Shakespeare for the screen, particularly his instant-classic “Henry V” … The worlds of Asgard and 15th Century England really have a lot in common, and Branagh knows how bring these worlds, and their inhabitants, to life.
The cast is great, the script well written, and Patrick Doyle’s score is regal without being over-the-top.
Doyle and Branagh’s working relationship goes back to “Henry V”, where wrote an amazing score, including the breathtaking “Non Nobis Domini”, for the epic 4-minute tracking shot that Shakespeare only WISHED he could have written. None of this has anything to do with “Thor”, exactly, but I’m a huge fan of Branagh’s “Henry V”, which is the Shakespearean equivalent of “The Godfather”, and will refer to it at the drop of a hat.
The film looks amazing, and the visualization of everything from the powers of Mjolnir to Asgaard were brilliantly executed. (I had some serious doubts about Hollywood’s ability to create a Rainbow Bridge that didn’t look like something out of Rainbow Brite or My Little Pony, but, like every other aspect of the film’s visual treatment, it was stunning.)
Visually, the only downside of the film is the crappy 3D conversion process (I wouldn’t have wasted the money, but it was the only screening available that night.) The stereo effect is barely noticeable, except in the closing credit sequence, and doesn’t make the trade off in image brightness and clarity worth it. See the 2D version instead, if you haven’t already.
There were a couple of WTF moments in the film … Such as Thor’s sudden evolution from a self-absorbed jerk to a selfless hero of the people in what amounts to a New York minute, but I guess there is only so much story you can cram into an action/adventure huge VFX summer tentpole, and the action adventure wins.
Likewise the chemistry between Natalie Portman’s character, scientist Jane Foster, and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, developed almost instantly (well, okay … This IS Natalie Portman we’re talking about, but still…)
And then there’s Kat Dennings character, who is to Jane what Dawn was to Buffy. (“Get out!, Get Out!!, GET OUT!!!”)
The story will be a bit different from the one fans of the original comic will remember. Thor’s secret identity of “Donald Blake” evolved in a completely different way in the original telling. Likewise, the new spin of the Asgardians being an advanced race of beings, as opposed to true gods, is different, but maybe more believable to a 21st Century audience.
Marvel keeps delivering on the best comic book-inspired movies ever, and the build towards Joss Whedon’s “Avengers” promises to bring quite a payoff.
Also, stay until the credits are over … It’s worth it.