Mini-review: Thor

Saw Thor last night. Overall, mostly enjoyed it. Not brilliant, and not even as much fun as the Iron Man movies, but fun enough, and worth seeing if you like this sort of thing. As I do.

There will be some spoilers here, but nothing major.

Some things I liked about it, in approximate descending order:

  • Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis, until she stopped having any lines.
  • Jane Foster being a smart and competent scientist.
  • The character arc and handling of Loki for the first two-thirds or so of the movie.
  • Passing the Bechdel/Wallace test in the first couple of minutes. (Especially coming right after the pre-show previews for upcoming movies, where most of the previewed movies appeared to contain only one woman.)
  • Cameo by Hawkeye! (Named only as “Barton,” but it was obviously him.)
  • Jaimie Alexander as Sif, again until she more or less stopped having any lines.
  • Thor with his shirt off.
  • The second time Thor gets hit by a car.
  • Thor calling Coulson “Son of Coul” in passing, late in the movie.
  • Coulson's associate asking if the Destroyer was Stark armor, and Coulson saying nobody tells him anything.
  • The extremely deep, possibly enhanced, voices of Colm Feore as Laufey and Idris Elba as Heimdall.
  • The obligatory Stan Lee cameo.

Some things I didn't like:

  • The whole attempt to put it in science fiction terms—the “Asgard is a real planet and they have advanced science that primitive humans thought was magic” thing. That's not my favorite trope under any circumstances, but especially not when much of the source material (the comic, I mean, not the original myth) was so heavily focused on magic and legend and myth and god-stuff. I'm having a hard time articulating this; maybe I can summarize my reaction by saying “What's next? We find out that Dr. Strange is actually a quantum physicist?”
  • The long backstory sequence, with the war between the gods and the frost giants, and young Thor and Loki, and so on. I might like that more if I were to watch the movie again, but on first viewing the pacing felt really off to me, and too slow.
  • Perhaps relatedly, I somehow felt like the movie started out being Jane's story (maybe just because the whole opening is more or less from her point of view?), and ended up being Thor's. I should have expected that it would be his story, given the title and the comic and the fact that superhero movies generally (and quite reasonably) focus on the hero; but I still felt oddly let down.
  • Some relatively weak CGI; I don't normally notice that kind of thing, and I didn't notice it a lot here, but there was enough to be distracting.
  • Some weird aspect-ratio and relative-size stuff—it might've been forced perspective to make the frost giants look giant, or it might've been stuff that was filmed for 3D looking weird in 2D, I'm not sure. Or it might've been all in my head. But I found it occasionally distracting.

Meta-information I was surprised by:

  • Discovering at the end that it was directed by Branagh.
  • Somehow getting Natalie Portman confused with Jennifer Garner. They totally don't look alike, but somehow I was looking at Foster and thinking she was played by Garner.
  • Seeing the line in the credits about the ravens, who I had been looking for but hadn't seen.
  • Discovering that the story was by JMS, who I hadn't realized wrote the comic for a while. I've been woefully out of touch with the world of superhero comics for the past several years.
  • Seeing the screenplay credits for Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz, who I'd previously heard of as writers and producers for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • Learning that the Destroyer has been around in the comics for decades; despite having been an occasional Thor reader since I was a kid, I had never heard of it before. (The only time I was a regular reader was during the Simonson run in the '80s, but I had certainly read some before and continued to occasionally glance at it later. But apparently not much.)

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