And today kicks off the beginning of the summer movies for me. I went to see Thor.
Admittedly, I was a little worried going into this one. Marvel Studios has done some good work in recent years, especially with the first Iron Man movie. But let's be honest, the second one stumbled a bit. And given the way that they're pumping out movies this year, especially in anticipation of the Joss Whedon geek-fest to come (a.k.a. Avengers), I was a little worried at how well the movies would do.
But there were still glimmers of hope. Sir Anthony Hopkins as Odin All-father? Interesting. Kenneth Branagh directing a superhero movie? Color me intrigued. And the FX in the trailers appeared pretty good. And really, there's no way I'm not going to go to a superhero movie (it's going to be a busy summer movie schedule for me this year), so I was in.
The story follows the titular god of thunder, played by Chris Hemsworth. After a disastrous fight that threatens to embroil Asgard in a war with their mortal enemies, the frost giants of Jotunheim, Odin strips his headstrong and arrogant son of his powers and banishes him to Earth. There, Thor meets an astrophysicist named Jane and tries to reclaim his mythic hammer, Mjolnir. But things are not well back in Asgard. Thor's brother, Loki, is up to no good. Thor needs to reclaim his powers and fast before all hell breaks loose, both on Earth and in the immortal realms.
I have to say, my worries about this film were misplaced. This was a good, fun movie, filled with some genuine moments that I truly enjoyed. The CGI sets for Asgard were really spectacular (I particularly liked the Rainbow Bridge effect), the battle sequences were fun to watch, and there were some genuine light-hearted moments (my favorite was when Thor smiled for a Facebook photo). It would have been very easy for Branagh to get lost in the mythic backstory of the movie or take it either too lightly or too seriously. The movie walked a fine line and did a respectable job.
But I do have a few minor gripes. First of all, Loki's motivation was too scattershot for me. I honestly have no idea why he was doing what he was doing. Oh, sure, there was the requisite monologuing at the end of the movie and yes, he did blatantly tell us, but the whole thing was so convoluted that I still don't think we ever really know what he was up to. I suppose that works since he is a trickster and a liar, but even still.
Maybe if the movie had spent less time on Earth. As odd as it might sound, Thor's exile actually dragged on the movie quite a bit. It could have been compressed a great deal. And the weird pseudo-romance with Jane the astrophysicist really didn't add anything to the movie. Although it did make me wonder why a respectable astrophysicist would set up a lab in an abandoned restaurant in the middle of Small Town New Mexico. Seemed a bit off to me.
Whatever the case, I had fun. I enjoyed myself. And for those of you who haven't seen the movie yet, for crying out loud, stay through to the very end! Two thirds of the audience got up and left the theater and thus missed the tag ending. C'mon, people, they had similar tags at the end of both Iron Man movies!