Monday, May 2, 2011
When the talk of making an Avengers movie began a couple years ago, I had to do some research of what exactly that was going to mean. Would every character from the Avengers get a movie, or just a couple of them? With "Iron Man" (2008) having a cameo from Nick Fury and "Incredible Hulk" (2008) having a cameo from Tony Stark all the pieces of the puzzle were starting to come together. To further titillate the fanboys there was the inclusion of the Captain America Shield and the bonus scene showing the Mjolnir (pronounced MYOL-ner) Hammer of Thor in "Iron Man 2" (2010) that kept the buzz going. Now finally in 2011 we have the next chapter in the series "Thor" and later this summer is "Captain America". But what about Dr. Hank Pym (aka Ant-Man or Giant-Man), the Wasp, or Hawkeye ? Now that I got my geek moment out of the way lets discuss this movie...
"Thor" takes on two stories that while linear come across rather disjointed between present day Earth and the realm of Asgard. At the center of the story is the Mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who is shown early as being an arrogant son and heir to the throne of Asgard held by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). As a warrior, Thor is reckless in his attempts to reignite an ancient war that his father was involved in. Thor is cast down to Earth by his father Odin and is forced to live among humans. The beautiful Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), is a scientist that is on the verge of discovering a wormhole. She is assisted by Darcy (Kat Dennings) who provides a bit of comic relief at times. Thor learns the humility and honor that his father was trying to teach him by being cast out of Asgard. Thor becomes a true hero and is ready to take on the most dangerous villain of his world, his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
The screening was in IMAX 3D, but honestly it wasn't necessary. There is really only a couple of times that it was worth the effort, and instead comes across as being a showy attempt. Kenneth Branagh as the director was always an interesting choice and not sure what he added to the film from his Shakespearian background. In fact, I think one could argue that the film only had four acts and was missing the thematic concluding final act that Shakespeare was known for.
For fun I watched some of the 1966 original cartoons of Thor to get my bearings since I never read the comics. A couple things that I found fun were the inclusions of "the rainbow bridge of Asgard" and the reference to Dr. Donald Blake on the shirt that Jane Foster gives him in the movie. There was no transformation or secret identity used in this film (nor should there be). Whenever they showed the rainbow bridge of Asgard the people I was with all got a laugh out of it. It is only referred to as such once, or twice, in the film, but it is clearly a rainbow bridge as the colors change with every step. Some around me compared it to the Rainbow Road from Mario Kart. Further attempts to be true to the comic story included Thor's friends known as the Warriors Three, which failed for me in the film. The joke about them being Jackie Chan, Robin Hood, and Xena was the only redeeming value of their inclusion. Finally, in a rather empty attempt to connect Thor to S.H.I.E.L.D. a conversation is held with Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) where he says they are fighting for the same thing.
The cameo from Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye was not as exciting as I had hoped, and not sure everyone in the audience picked up on it. The cameo from Stan Lee as the truck driver trying to move the magical hammer Mjolnir was fun and everyone in the audience immediately got a laugh out of it.
As with the other films in this series that are leading us to "The Avengers" (2012) you will want to stick around into the credits for yet another awesome bonus scene that is leading us to the culminating moment... "Well, I guess that's worth a look." Overall, the film left me wanting more as it lacked a solid connection to the other films and didn't really point us in a direction of where the Avengers will be going. It is worthy of a viewing by any fans of the genre, but save your money and see it in 2D... 2 Quacks.
(screening date 5/3/11, release date 5/6/11, location Regal Cinemas Majestic Stadium 20 in Silver Spring, MD)