Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Movie Review: THOR

Why the God of Thunder is worth a second glance - by Nick van der Leek

DISCLAIMER: I wrote this review at 4am!

There are more than a few people who turn up their nose [in ignorance] at Thor.  Maybe they're the same people who have never gone to watch Star Wars, or missed The Lord of the Rings.  Maybe some of those folks think of the fantasy in Thor as too disconnected from what's going on, because they're all about 'getting real'.  But fantasy, and fiction, offer large doses of a special something reality doesn't - heroism.

On the news this evening, before I went to watch Thor for the second time, there was a lot of deplorable and disappointing stuff going on.  Who can be blamed for wanting to escape to place that is flush with heroism.  THOR is nothing if not heroic.

I found the juxtaposition of characters very well done.  They fit nicely together and compliement the core cast, which is really Thor, his brother Loki, and their Father Odin.  Natalie Portman isn't asked for an Oscar performance, but during my second watching of this film, I felt her portrayal was flawless.  The juxtaposition of an alternate universe - notably above the Earth - is also, I feel timely.  I say this because we Earthlings with our techno-triumphalism are very arrogant at the moment about how clever we are.  That arrogance has been the undoing of Empires ever since we started building them.  Enduring capitals and cathedrals need enduring values, and one of them, is humility.  Another is patience.  This is what upset the apple cart in Asgaard in the flick, and it's the same hubris that prevents us from admitting the errors of our ignorance today.  Failure to act on climate change is an entire failure of our capacity to feel humility.

What's great about this flick is it is directed by a man who knows Shakespeare, and Kenneth Branagh has himself played the swashbuckling role.  It's good to see a brawny actor in Aussie Chris Hemsworth who can play solidly opposite Sir Anthony Hopkins.  Hopkins, as Odin, is the star of the show, even more so than Thor.  What is powerful in this flick is the family dynamic between father and son, and the two brothers, and how Thor's relationship with the world evolves into something much deeper.  For me personally the emasculation of Thor [in a sense] resonates, because it is only from this state of devastated nothingness that one can give birth to a new core of values.  It is only through being broken that we begin to truly realign with what is needed in the world.  If one means to be a hero, or of any use on this planet, at any rate.

Loki's trickery also provides pause for thought.  How often are our efforts laid to waste by those closest to us, even in some cases, by ourselves, to spite those closest to us.

There is a moment where Thor is near death and all seems lost...which is perhaps the most powerful and triumphant of all.  It is only in the fires of defeat that a pure spirit is born, and one that truly knows what to do.

In my life I have faced this same dilemma:

Thor: For the first time in my life, I have no idea what I'm supposed to do... .

And what happens after this moment, if one sticks ardently to the question, is that one finds what is it that one must do.  It's a readjustment of one's life's mission.  It is realigning our lives with what matters.  If we are to survive, this process of adaptation is imperative.

There is another aspect in Thor I would like to address.  It is something sorely lacking in the present day.  No, not necessarily heroism, although I suppose it is related in a sense to heroism.  Leadership.   In time we shall learn, as Thor does,  to do right in this world.  Or die trying.

Score: I give Thor a solid 8/10

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