Fight Film Friday: Thor

Posted: May 6, 2011 in fight film friday
Tags: ,

USA, 2011
Genre: Action, Superhero, Fantasy
114 minutes

The Norse god of thunder is banished to Earth, where he must redeem himself in the mortal realm.

Kenneth Branagh, better known as an actor for his character roles and as a director for his Shakespeare films, makes the considerable jump to superhero action films with his vision of the mighty Thor, based on the popular Marvel Avenger. Carried by a fantastic cast including Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, and Stellan Skarsgard, Branagh also introduces American audiences to Chris Hemsworth as the titular hero and Tom Hiddleston as his brother Loki. Hemsworth, Hiddleston, and Hopkins all have outstanding performances as Norse gods, bringing the concept of flawed deities to life on the big screen. Unfortunately, while the dialogue is funny and pretty smart at times, the story as a whole lacked a solid structure or effective pacing. It does manage to get what it needs to across, but it’s a bit clunky on the way there.

Visually, the film is very impressive. Props to Branagh’s extensive art and visual effects department, who managed to craft the gorgeous world of Asgard, home to the gods, yet still fit it stylistically into the greater Marvel movie universe. However, as impressive as the visuals themselves were, when it came to filming the actual actors on physical sets, the cinematography came off as incredibly amateur. Unsure of how to best capture the cast’s performance, director of photography Haris Zambarloukos’s only solution appeared to be tilting the camera for a dutch angle, again and again and again. Compounded upon the photography were some rather sloppy editing choices and fairly generic sound design and musical score. It’s truly disheartening to see such dedication to quality on one half of the production, but decidedly mediocre work for the rest.

Probably the most impressive aspect of the movie was Branagh’s handling of the action sequences. With no prior experience dealing with action or heavy visual effects, I imagine he gave a lot of flexibility to his art directors to handle those particular sequences. Regardless of how much he may or may not have had to do with their production, it’s clear that a lot of love for the character or craft went into their creation, because they will definitely set off even the most closeted of fanboys. Despite shortcomings in the non-superhero parts of the film, Thor is definitely worth checking out if you have any sort of vested interest in the Avengers or the superhero genre as a whole.

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