Saturday, April 30, 2011

Superhero Movies

I've just been to see the new Thor movie, in (yet fucking again) 3D. And this after reading a review of the same film from one of my dearest friends, over here: Woland's Cat Reviews Thor.

It's not a good review. And viewed in one light, I can't really blame him. He's right when he observes that it's hard to get worked up when you know the main characters are fundamentally indestructible. And yeah, there's a lot of silly physics wedged into the storyline to explain the silly comicbook mythology of Marvel.

On the other hand -- it's a bloody superhero movie, innit? If you didn't go along expecting capes and CGI, lots of crashy, boomy fight sequences, trashing of scenery and improbable plotlines, what the hell were you doing there in the first place?

I can explain easily why I was there: I have two boys who love comics. And since Genghis had his weekly bass lesson at 1000, and the session for Thor began at 1045, it was easy to make the connection. I packed the Mau-Mau in the car as well, to give Natalie the morning on her own, and I even arranged for a couple of lasses from the ju-jitsu class (who are also comic junkies) to come along. Made for a nice trip all round, really.

And what did I get? Well, I got to see Natalie's new handmade violin. Genghis gets his lessons from a luthier who is himself a bassplayer, and the man in question is slowly, painstakingly, handcrafting a fiddle for Nat. Today it was fully assembled, though not yet varnished -- and honestly, the tone was amazing: rich and full. The instrument produces a huge sound, yet the tones are clean and pure. Once it's all done, it's going to sound fantastic. As it should... not a cheap toy at all. On the other hand, by selling off all the other fiddles that have come to a halt in our house over the last five years, Natalie has almost filled the bill already. And the sound of this new beast is so astonishingly good -- I had no idea the difference would be so great!

I also picked up a bunch of dark chocolate coated macadaemia nuts from the Coco Bean, as an anniversary present. Because yes, today Nat and I have been married for seventeen years. How the hell did that happen? I'm damned if I know.

They're good mac nuts. And I couldn't do a whole lot else: she's on call for obstetrics this weekend. That's how it goes.

The movie? Oh, well. Actually, it was pretty credible. It looked great, of course. And with Ken Branagh directing, what could easily have been a leaden-footed mass of posturing exposition actually moved along reasonably well. Of course it's all basically an origin story, a setup for forthcoming sequels and for the planned 'Avengers' flicks - but it didn't do too badly.

I was particularly impressed by the dialogue from Thor and the Asgardians in general. In the old Marvel comics, the characters speak in hyperdramatic bad Elizabethan, full of "thee" and "thou" and "thy" and hammy images. In the film, the language was -- just formal enough to be impressive, just off-kilter enough to be suggestive of an older form, and still quite clear. Nice work.

Thor's fighting technique was another pleasant surprise. Whoever blocked out the fight sequences understood that the character is meant to be tremendously powerful: he came across as a very direct fighter with a few canny moves, but mainly reliant on speed, strength, endurance, and a fuck-off big hammer in one hand. Anybody else remember the Spiderman stuff from way way back -- Nicholad Hammond, I think? They made that Spiderman a kind of kung fu fighter, which was just bloody stupid. It would have been easy to give Hemworth a different fighting style - one more appropriate to an armored medieval warrior. But someone understood, and allowed the combat to help build the character.

Would I see it again? Nahh. I bloody hate 3D. An hour or two in those goddam Buddy Holly glasses, and my eyes are red, weeping pissholes. The movie's not worth it. But we'll pick it up on DVD, and I'll probably sit through it again with the kids.

Hemworth did well. He had the right combination of cockiness and gravitas. He could possibly go on to be a real player. And the man doing Loki was effective in his role too. Natalie Portman was... wasted, really, as Jane Foster, Thor's Earthside squeeze. But hell, it's a paycheque, and she played her part as effectively as always. Anthony Hopkins was a natural as Odin - fair casting there, and points to Branagh for getting Hopkins into a comicbook flick.

We rounded the day off with a bite of lunch, and a trip to the secondhand bookstore. Then we came home, and the girls went back to their family while I sat down with mine. Played a fine game of Scrabble with Nat and Jake... and now everybody's in bed, so it's to work, to work for me.


  1. I am terribly vexed that Thor opens in Tasmania a week before it opens in California - which is yet another sign of the end of the American Empire.

    My only consolation is the fact that, before we hit bottom we were able to inflict 3D upon the world.

  2. One of the upsides of living in a "remote" town - we don't get 3D movies in Broome. Quite enjoyed Thor (2D) myself, and the kids were happy enough with it.
    As you said, about all you can ask of a comic-book movie...

  3. Boylan: we will have our vengeance. The day will come.

    Drej -- dangit. I guess I don't live remotely enough. Or rather, I live in a compromise. I'm forty-five minutes out of Launceston. Not far enough to have our own cinema, but Launceston is apparently big enough to cop the 3D nonsense.

    I didn't know you were up in Broome!

  4. I'm looking forward to seeing Thor. One thing I'll be looking for, having watched some Marvel animation, is he the god/God of Thunder or the Thunderer?

  5. I even liked the nod to the old cartoon with Dr Donald Blake on the ID

  6. Thanks for the review! I've been waiting months for this to come out (super psyched about Avengers!) and was concerned it was going to suck balls. Oh and Happy Anniversary! :)

  7. I think the point is that the movie did suck balls, but the balls of a norse god.

  8. One for the non-3D DVD player, then :)

  9. My only problem with the movie was that the guy playing Thor looked like an old mate of mine, so I kinda wanted to punch him in the throat.

    And with 3D, i felt like I could.

  10. Re your problem witht he 3D perhaps you could test drive these and see if they work

    I was terrified they'd have the music from the old seventies cartoon Thor

    ’Cross the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard,

    Where the booming heavens roar,

    You’ll behold in breathless wonder,

    The God of Thunder, Mighty Thor.

  11. Wasn't 70's. Was 60's - and the songs for all of those Marvel cartoons were awful.

    When Captain America throws his mighty shield,
    All those who chose to oppose his shield must yield.
    If he’s led to a fight and a duel is due,
    Then the red and white and the blue’ll come through
    When Captain America throws his mighty shield.

    Tony Stark makes you feel
    He’s a cool exec with a heart of steel.
    As Iron Man, all jets ablaze,
    He’s fighting and smiting with repulsor rays!
    Amazing armor! That’s Iron Man!
    A blazing power! That’s Iron Man!

    Doc Bruce Banner,
    Belted by gamma rays,
    Turned into the Hulk.
    Ain’t he unglamor-ous!
    Wreckin’ the town
    With the power of a bull,
    Ain’t no monster clown
    Who is as lovable.
    As ever-lovin’ Hulk! HULK!! HULK!!"


    There was NO call for that kind of behaviour. Now I've got that fucking awful 'Hulk' theme going through my head, and my teeth are on edge. I didn't even KNOW, prior to this, that there was an Iron Man of the same vintage. Gaaaaaaahh!

    Medway: we're not old mates, are we? Just making sure. I'm always a little nervous around people whose expressions of goodwill and friendship include throat-punching. I've been known to slap the odd shoulder... even deliver the occasional good-humoured wedgie. But a throat-punch? I don't think I love ANYONE that much.

  13. I will presume that you do not want me to post the lyrics for the Submariner cartoon theme song, then.


  15. Yes do it! I've already had massive flashbacks from the other tunes, one more won't hurt!
    *edit* Don't worry, I found them myself:
    Stronger than a whale
    He can swim anywhere
    He can breathe under water
    and go flying through the air
    The Noble Sub Mariner
    Prince of the deep
    So, beware you deadly demons
    Lord Namor of Atlantis,
    is the Prince of the Deep.

    Oh, and despite me liking superhero stuff when I was young, I have yet to see any of the current crop (actually I'm really crap at movei watching these days anyway)including Iron Man, Spiderman et al. Whilst I wouldn't mind seeing Thor...on past performance it probably won't happen.