Sunday, May 8, 2011

THOR in not so 3-D

Another Marvel Comics hero hits the screen and he's burdened with mediocre, dull, dim and even shallow 3-D that seems to be mandatory for blockbusters with ancient warriors with mighty weapons and... Anthony Hopkins. Remember when swashbucklers and comic book movies were made in glorious and underrated 2-D?

THOR is the story partially set in the 900 A.D. era in which the Nordic warrior awaits to be named King by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins, in fine form, aside from the goofy eye patch) But Thor's arrogant and reckless ways lead him to engage his enemies, a race of icy monsters who have the power to turn their victims into human ice sculptures. King Odin is angered by his son's disobedience against his orders not to go looking for confrontation and war. He banishes Thor to another realm to live as a powerless mortal, in modern day New Mexico. When he falls out of the sky, he is lucky enough to be struck by a Hummer driven by Natalie Portman. She's a scientist with a two person team made up by her father figure elder (Stellan Skarsgard) and a plucky teen sidekick (Kat Dennings). The trio first think that the fish out of water warrior is a delusional weirdo. But they wonder why is he so mysterious, noble, skillful at fighting and so...hunky?

The secret government agency S.H.E.I.L.D., usually in charge of keeping tabs on Iron Man, quickly come to town. They set up shop and try to determine why a gigantic hammer is stuck in the middle of the desert and impossible to remove. Meanwhile back in Thor's realm (realm is a word this movie loves to reuse) his scornful and jealous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) discovers he is actually an orphaned child who belongs to the Icy bad guy species. Feeling betrayed, he takes advantage of King Odin's ailing health to assume the throne, cross the icy bridge between worlds (which resembles a Guitar Hero track) and wage war against the modern human race.

Thus CGI galore ensues at rapid fire pace. Director Kenneth Branagh seems love dutch angles too much as well and utilizes them at every possible opportunity. In between special effects sequences there is however, touches of light and dry humour. THOR is a middle of the road, sweet, inoffensive and overall unremarkable fantasy saga that is aided by a very charming performance by Chris Hemsworth as the titular hero. Supporting players include Clark Gregg who reprises his character the head agent of S.H.E.I.L.D. from IRON MAN 1 and 2. Gregg plays his role with a good balance of seriousness and humorous levity. He's so used to seeing Tony Stark fly faster than a Mach 3 jet and destroy major buildings, that the sight of century old, heavily costumed warriors doing battle hardly fazes him.

Middleston is a good actor but his character is too petulant rather than intimidating. What THOR lacks is a really menacing villain. Additional scenes with master thespian Hopkins would have benefited as well. And poor Rene Russo is given nothing to do as Thor's mother. She basically stands around looking either worried or waiting to recite her brief lines of dialogue.

Now that I've given my two cents on the film, let me digress further on my disdain for 3-D. The obvious disadvantages include dim, lifeless projection and super imposed effects that only intermittently appear on screen in a film that was in shot in 2-D originally. But what really struck me as inconvenient was when the movie ended and I exited the theater to walk out into the sunlight. My eyes were overwhelmed as if I had entered stunning daylight after a long exile in a dark cave. The movie going experience is supposed to be an escape and not one with assaulting after effects.

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