Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Thor

Rolling along on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie and blog about it.  Simple as that.  I'm working my way through Marvel's Phase I, and today I get to Thor.  Actually, I got to Thor back on January 21, 2018.  I'm just now posting it.

Continuing this march through Marvel's Phase I with Thor.  Kind of interesting watching it now, with Thor Ragnarok being the most recent Marvel film, and currently one of the best-reviewed.  It's been interesting seeing how far we've come.  People are marveling at how goofy Thor Ragnarok was, but when you look at the first Thor film, it's always kind of been there.  Ragnarok just brought it to the forefront. 

And it might be good that the goofy charm of Thor was kept minimal in the first Thor.  Director Kenneth Branagh kept getting asking about Thor when out promoting Murder on the Orient Express, and one thing he kept saying was, when they made Thor, the pressure was on to get the tone right.  Marvel was still in its formative years.  This was only the third character they were bringing to big screen.  And, with Thor's roots in Norse mythology, it was the film that was tasked with introducing fantasy elements to the MCU.  A delicate balancing act, to be sure. 

But Branagh did a pretty good job,  No doubt he was hired because of his legendary Shakespeare adaptations, and Thor has always had a faux-Shakespearian flavour.  Many saw the Shakespeare parallels in Thor and Loki's brotherly battles for the throne.  And a talent like Branagh was able to attract other talent.  Natalie Portman said that the only reason she signed on was because she was curious as to what Branagh would do with the material. 

Of course, though, the big discovery was Chris Hemsworth as Thor.  He'd already been in Hollywood for a while.  Probably his best known role was Capt. Kirk's ill-fated father in the opening scenes of JJ Abrams' Star Trek.  In fact, I read another interview with Branagh in which he said Hemsworth's performance in Star Trek helped him get the gig.  The fact that he was able to do so much and make the character so sympathetic in so little screen time really impressed Branagh. 

And in the film, we get the most beloved villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:  Loki.  That's probably because the film is just as much Loki's origin story as it is Thor's, as we see Loki come to terms with his frost giant parentage, and we see that his entire evil plot wasn't to take the throne of Asgaard, but instead, just finally gain his father's approval, as he's always been in the shadow of his older brother Thor.  This is the only Marvel film that really took the time to develop it's villain, and the fact that he came back for more in Avengers solidified him as a force to be reckoned with. 

In the mystical realm of Asgaard, Thor is about to be crowned king, and assume the throne from his father Odin.  But, during the ceremony, a couple of frost giants break into the treasure room, and are easily dispatched.  Thor sees this as an affront to the throne, but Odin wants to just let it go.  Seeing Thor's reaction and desire for war, Odin decides not to renounce the throne just yet.  But still, Thor wants vengeance.  He, Loki, and their closest friends head to the realm of the frost giants, bust some heads, and Odin shows up to calm things down before it becomes all-out war.  Disgusted by his son's actions, Odin strips Thor of his powers and banishes him to Earth. 

On Earth, Thor falls into the care of Jane Foster, an astrophysicist who's been studying the possible opening of wormholes.  Foster's been doing her study with her mentor, Dr. Erik Selvig, and her grad student Darcy.  Of course, the wormhole is the Bifrost, the fabled rainbow bridge to Asgaard, so they start thinking that there may be something to Thor's ramblings about being the Thor.  And of course, while on Earth, Thor beings to learn humility and compassion, thus earning his way back to his powers.

And of course, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a thing, so on the outskirts of town has crash-landed Mjolnir, Thor's hammer, which only the worthy can wield.  SHIELD shows up to cordon of the site, and it's our favourite agent, Agent Coulson, who's in charge of the situation.  We also get a gratuitous cameo from Hawkeye, who's one of the agents on site.  That's another thing.  Apparently, Hawkeye's cameo caused a lot of headaches for Branagh, because when they started filming, the Marvel bosses hadn't cast Hawkeye yet.  So Branagh was agonizing over Hawkeye's scenes.  So finally Branagh decided to just film everything where the actor's face was obscured, and figured they could film the close-ups during reshoots, reasoning that by then, Marvel would have hired someone.  And they did. 

But in the end, Thor is just fun.  It's not Marvel's best, and is pretty formulaic as superhero films go, but it's pretty pleasing.  It's a comfort food of a film. 

Oh, and Natalie Portman is at her peak adorableness as Jane Foster. 

No comments: