By Hemsworth’s nipples!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 4:03 pm Comments (1)

I’m getting increasingly concerned about how quickly this year is skimming me by. Are we really nearly halfway through? That’s not fair, mang!

Well, what is there for me to say? From the viewpoint of a productive mindset, I’ve done a lot of work on the perpetually-upcoming site revamp, and although slowly progressing, it’s coming along really nicely. I’m, uh, not sure if there’ll actually be much in the way of new content besides the directory rearranging, CSS design rampaging and so on, but it’ll be nice to get the stupid thing done. From the viewpoint of interesting blog entries… well, yeah, I have not been up to anything exciting.

I did have the house to myself for a week, and then I spent it all working on web design. A world of excitement! I did try and watch a movie or two, but it’s no fun watching stuff on your own – where’s the fun if you can’t discuss it with someone afterwards? It probably didn’t help that I made yet another attempt to try and sit through a full episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I love reading about the show, and there were some decent chuckles from the thirty minutes of the Puma Man episode I sampled, but I just struggle to sit through them.


I did see Thor last night with my dad, though. It was a quite satisfying watch! My experience with Thor is quite limited, both the original Norse mythology and the Marvel Comics spin on things, so I won’t even try and pretend that I know what I’m talking about.

I was going to try and give a proper summary to the movie, but when’s the last time I ever did that without being half-assed? In a nutshell, Thor’s a blowhard jerk and gets banished to Earth for nearly starting a war with some frost giants. Loki, Thor’s brother, then suddenly gains a whole bunch of complexes at once and tries to destroy the frost giant’s planet, keep Thor banished and usurp the throne and all kinds of stuff. His plan’s a bit hard to keep track of. In the meantime, antics ensue on Earth! … yeah!

The real defining trait of the movie is how “cosmic” it is. Aside from maybe Ghost Rider (which I haven’t seen), all the Marvel movies so far have been kinda down-to-earth; at least, as close as superhero movies can be; they’re supernatural characters in a regular, mundane world. Thor is a supernatural character from a cosmic, supernatural world, and he happens to land in a regular, mundane Earth – but not without taking some of that supernatural world with him. Even characters like Superman, who come from another planet and have cosmic powers, ultimately end up rather Earth-bound in most of the popular media. Okay, yeah, Thor ends up kind of the same here, but just because he’s on Earth doesn’t mean all the affairs on his planet are forgotten about. It’s not like ol’ Supes where they blow up Krypton just so he can hang out with his new Earth buddies; Thor’s priorities still lie on Asgard, but he’s compelled by his duty and honour to protect Earth and all the other realms of Yggdrasil as well.

Of course, themes are all fine and well, but just the few brief scenes of characters whisking through the cosmos, warping between planets… although brief and eventually skipped altogether, really help establish the fantastic element of the film. Asgard is really beautiful landscape, and even the frost giants’ realm, although a dying and decaying, near-inhospitable planet, has a very ethereal allure to it. And nearly half the screen-time is devoted to both places combined. That’s not bad! It’s about time Earth stopped hogging the spotlight. Pluto represent! If the rumours of a sequel are true, it’ll be awesome to see more of Asgard explored, as despite all the awesome panning shots of its splendour, you only ever see the warp chamber (it has a fancy Norse name but hell if I’m gonna remember that) and the main castle. We never see anywhere else in detail, so the mysteries of that floating building with the rotating walls will forever confound me. Until some supplementary material explains it, that is.

Thor is played quite well, and I’d be lying if I said he didn’t have a sexy beard; but the real star is Loki, who comes across as a nuanced and – dare I say it – subtle villain. For a superhero film, of course. The figures of mythology never perfectly fit into “hero” and “villain” roles – they were what they were, and Loki, although fitting the villain role for his destructive and manipulative behaviour in the film, isn’t just some 1-dimensional shmuck with a weak rise-to-villainy excuse. He’s got daddy issues instead! Okay, he’s got daddy issues, heritage issues, brother jealousy, and I’m sure if her mother had more than five minutes of screen time they could’ve worked in an Oedipus complex as well. He’s actually a decent spud for the first part of the movie, but then he starts going a bit overboard into the realm of morally ambiguous; and since he’s such a trickster, it can be hard to tell if his spoken motives are actually true, or if he’s trying to get a reaction out of those around him. It’s just a nice surprise to get a villain with even the scantest degree of depth to him in a superhero film. I can barely remember any moments in the Fantastic Four films because Doctor Doom was just a bore. The comic one is so comically villainous that he becomes interesting again, but the movie one just felt uninspired.

If I had to nag about the visuals, it’d be that the Frost Giants were a bit bleh. I have no familiarity with them, though my dad lavishly described a two-page spread from an old Avengers comic featuring the heroes facing off against just one of them, so the originals must’ve been big. And frosty. The movie frost giants are, well, not very big, and although they have a gimmick of freezing enemies or generating icicle weapons on their arms, they kinda feel like half-baked, for lack of a better term. As if the producers wanted a race of fancy CGI hominids and they hired motion-captured actor for it, but after realising how expensive the effects would be they just painted the mo-cap guy blue and gave him facial scars. I suppose I can understand the simple look because the frost giants are vital to the ethical part of the story, and if they were too monstrous then most audiences probably wouldn’t have a probably with Loki trying to genocide them (spoilers!), but given how the entire race looks identical, it doesn’t really change much. You could paint them grey and bend their knees and they’d be like a legion of well-spoken Gollums. The giant angle also isn’t really played up; I’m told they were meant to be about 10-feet tall, but even that felt like a stretch. The only times they ever felt big, it always felt like camera trickery. Again, the lack of immense size is probably to make for easier interaction (after all, the giants need to invade Asgard and to fight Thor and his small group of allies), but given how the opening fight with them is just a Batman Begins style camera-cutting mess, it feels like a waste. The Frost Giants are the only real blemish on the film, I feel.

It’s no masterpiece despite being the recipient of the meatiest paragraphs I’ve written months, but it’s a fun, entertaining movie with a nice dosage of humour on the side. It probably helps that I’ve been in a superhero mood lately after I rented Marvel vs. Capcom 3 again. Seeing the fantastic cosmic angle of Thor captured on film so well has made me interested in seeing the likes of Dr. Strange get his own film. Yes, my familiarity with him is limited only to the Marvel Legends action figure and Shuma-Gorath’s appearance in Capcom’s fighting games, but come on, even just seeing that pimped out collar in live-action would be a treat.

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