Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thor (2011)

Having seen The Avengers first, I appreciate the backstory this movie offered me about the Thor/Loki relationship and I marvel at how Tom Hiddleston evolved in villainy from the first movie to the second. Makes me look forward to seeing him in The Dark World.

This movie had quite a few laughs that I know must have made a bigger impact in the theater than they did on my home television screen, as when Thor grapples with the fact that he's lost his powers and makes an arrogant speech of omnipotence only to be failed like a mortal. Those made me smile, but I'm sure I would have guffawed had I been part of a theater audience.

When Thor finally gets to the hammer, I'm annoyed that he wastes so much time, to build the excitement, before trying to lift the darn thing. You know, just walk up to and pull. I have to say I didn't see the fact that he wouldn't be able to pick it up coming, even though I knew Odin had taken his power away, I still thought he would have the magic touch. So, Thor's surprise and despair was quite effective.

His redemption was stupid though. He became a better man just because ... well, he was humbled by not being able to raise the hammer. Then Loki hits him with the news that his dad was dead. Thirdly, he's falling for Jane who has asked him not to smash mugs. I know these things might combine to change a person, but he was transformed in 2 minutes. Next thing you know, he's making and serving breakfast for everyone, committed to serving others. Suddenly he thinks sparing innocent lives is more important than winning and the path of non-violence is better than killing all of your ice enemies. I just don't see where this change came from.

Yes, he was taken down a notch, but in the end I don't think anything happened to erase his earlier desire to kill all of the Frost Giants. He only met about 50 people during his short stint on earth. He's not like baby Superman who grew up with mortals. I don't buy that spending a few hours on another planet convinced him that his goal should be to make sure that all of the realms co-existed, rather than to get even.

While his ouster and Loki's lie that Odin was dead would be enough to make him regret his argument with Dad, I don't think it would change his views on world peace.

As for Loki and Jane, again I don't think they could have fallen in love that quickly. She hits him with her car twice and then spend an evening chit chatting, but ... while meeting a real superhero must have been thrilling for her, I don't know what she did to convince Thor that she was the smartest human on the planet. She didn't seem any sharper than Darcy to me. Speaking of which, Kat Dennings is far more charming than CBS ever allows her to be on Two Broke Girls. When, someone can handle wit with a deft, light hand, why have her do it with a, ahem, hammer on your sitcom?

The film tried to convince us it was love at first sight for Jane and Thor, but I think you have to share more to get to that point. Having them both laugh gaily together when nothing is funny does not establish chemistry. For this reason, by the time they parted, I thought it would have been more realistic for Thor to say, "Nice meeting you," rather than, "I promise I'll return for you." Still, in the end when Heimdall tells Thor he can still see Jane and "she searches for you" it did tug a little at the old heartstrings. Thinking of people, separated by a universe and pining for each other is moving, especially when someone has the gift of site that Thor lacks. Having a vicarious glimpse of a loved one is somehow more painful than having none at all. Yet Heimdall's words cause him to smile. As for Heimdall, I still pine away a bit for Luther. I wish this movie required any of Idris Elba's unique charisma or even his real speaking voice, rather than the distorted sound effect.

I'd like to see more of Thor's friends, Sif, Hogun, etc. It's hard for Jane and her crew to compare to them. A story set on earth is one thing, but if the movie shows you both the Gods in their habitat and humans in theirs, the Gods' world will look more enticing.

The Odin/Thor/Loki relationship was the strongest for me and I don't think Loki's inferiority complex was unjustified. His father and brother's dismissive treatment wasn't enough to make him evil and murderous, but it certainly should have made him cranky. If you're going to adopt your enemy's kids as your own two unite warring factions, then don't treat him like a red-headed stepchild. That's how you create factions. In the flashback to their youth, Odin tells him that they were both born to lead, but there could only be one king. We see how meaningful these words are later, when we learn Loki's true identity. But, why didn't Odin treat Loki as more of Thor's equal when they were grown men? If he had, then he'd have more of a Harry and William thing, than Cain and Abel.

When Loki tricked and killed King Laufey, it convinced me that in the end he would never actually harm Odin. He just wanted to be credited for saving the day by the men in his family, like he was by Frigga. As he told Thor, he never wanted to be King, he just wanted to be his equal. I believe that.

But the dysfunctional family dynamic served the movie well. When Odin held Thor and Thor held Loki, their screams for Loki not to let go gave this movie its only heart. It's the feelings, not the fights that bring the comics to life.

No comments: