KeithM -> RE: ‘BY Odin’s beard,’ as Ron Burgundy might say, ‘a Thor adaptation that sucketh not!’ (25/4/2011 8:12:13 PM)
Is Kenneth Branagh's Thor a winner? I say thee yay, verily...
Let me cut to the chase quick sharp and tell you my reaction when the movie ended... "That was effin' brilliant!" (I won't try to replicate the rather girlish giggle that came with it)
Branagh really has done wonders here. The film is entertaining, exciting, funny and emotionally engaging and just a whole lot of fun.
All the performances are absolutely spot-on, every one of the cast pitch perfect in their respective roles, with Hemsworth not only holding his own in esteemed company, but totally convincing as the arrogant but likeable god of thunder. He IS Thor, every bit as much as Downey is Stark. The prospect of Hemsworth and Downey together as Thor and Stark, already intriguing, is now positively mouth watering. No pressure then Evans. :)
Hopkins is superbly understated as Odin, blessedly avoiding the temptation to play it over the top (expl: In-joke - Brian Blessed was one of the 'fan choices' to play Odin - not mine I must stress), while Hiddleston as Loki is... well, he's Loki. The film could have faltered if Loki wasn't convincing in his arc and in his portrayal and Hiddleston truly delivers a subtle and intelligent performance, totally owning the role and making a truly multi-dimensional 'villain'.
Portman is also very good as Jane Foster and, as a long-time reader of Thor (since about 1971) I can say that Portman's interpretation is by far the most interesting I've ever found her. She is a bit meh in the comics to be honest, but here Portman makes her into a smart, likeable (utterly loveable frankly), worthy love interest and interesting in her own right. I've read some reviews which have said that Thor and Jane falling for each other isn't entirely convincing in the time they spend together. Rubbish. Both myself and my brother were in love with her by the end and could totally believe Thor would be too. Seriously, I don't think Natalie has ever looked so beautiful. /gushing
Skarsgård is a good foil for Portman, acting as the sceptic and counselling caution to Portman's almost irrational desire to 'believe' and follow Thor despite the dangers and risk. Kat Dennings, in a small, but valuable role, provides some light relief to puncture some of what could have become a bit pompous and expositiony otherwise. Both serve the story well, with Skarsgård in particular having a rather key role in things (no spoilers, but just make sure to stick around for the post-credits scene).
Heimdall is great, Sif is great, the Warriors Three are great - and although not on screen a whole lot, with Hogun in particular having very little to do they're not quite as underplayed or as sidelined as I might have feared, all playing their parts in the plot and as friends of our hero.
There are cameos (notably J.Michael Straczynski and Stan Lee of course), but they are unobtrusive and probably won't even be noticed by the non-fan.
Other 'Easter egg' moments are similarly subtle (watch carefully in Odin's strongroom is all I'll say), so it seems Marvel did learn a lesson from Iron Man 2 in that at no time does the greater MU or the Avengers nods seem incongruous or crowbarred in.
Maybe the Hawkeye scene was a bit clunky, but only if you know he's Hawkeye - my brother, who is not a comics guy, didn't notice anything 'odd' about that scene at all really, so not a major thing obviously
The Asgard scenes work brilliantly, stunningly so in fact, never even straying near Flash Gordon territory thankfully. The Earth scenes also work just as well, Branagh managing the transition between the very different feeling 'worlds' without it ever feeling too jarring. Jotunheim was also realised well. The film jumps between the various realms a fair bit rather than just focusing on one or the other for too long, which helps avoid any slowdown in the plot and indeed, keeps the film steamrollering along very nicely.
The action scenes are stunning - full on Marvel style battle scenes, just like in the comics. Honestly, there's a scene on Jotunheim when Thor first... Nah, not going to spoil. Let's just say I clapped my hands together with sheer joy at the awesomeness of it. And there are moments like that throughout. The film will be very re-watchable too, because a lot of the action is very frenetic and Branagh doesn't use a lot of slo-mo (you listening Snyder?), so it's very easy to miss a lot of the background detail in amongst all the chaos. That's a good thing by the way. It better captures the chaos of battle and time isn't a wasting dragging out action scenes because you have no story. And that isn't a problem here. There's plenty of action - and as I said, they are stunning - but there's plenty of story to be told too and it's told well.
A quick word on the 3D - it's fairly subtle - not a lot of 'in yer face' poking stuff at you going on - and I think probably worth it for the experience. There are certain scenes (such as in Jotunheim for example) where the 'depth' does add to the sense of scale, which 2D might not convey as well. Same with Asgard and those expansive desert shots. I still think it'll be just as great a film in 2D, but scenes such as those will have that bit 'extra' in 3D.
I'm not going to expound much on the actual story (read the synopsis if you want an idea). Suffice to say, it works. It's exciting, funny, epic, very, very entertaining and, as far as this Thor comics fanboy is concerned, effin' brilliant.
Best Marvel movie yet? Possibly. My favourite so far, for sure.
Hail Kenneth Branagh. Hail Thor.