Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thor

Thor (2011)
     A personal family favorite mainly because we're also Scandinavian (lots of blonde haired, blue eyed people). I had seen this movie a couple of times, but I never actually watched it...meaning it would playing on the television, but I wasn't paying attention. My sisters were obsessed with it, but at the time it had come out I was still in my "I don't care about superheros stage" (with the acceptation of X-Men and Batman). Then after The Avengers came out, I actually got interested in the back stories of all of the characters, so I filched my sister's copy and sat down and actually watched the legendary Thor.

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Thor Odinson
Chris Hemsworth as Thor Odinson in
Thor (2011)
      Now if you've previously read my Avenger's review, you might remember that my first reaction and opinion to the mighty Thor was that I believed him to all brawn and no brains. Which is pretty much true, up to a point at least. When the movie begins, Thor Ordinson is the quintessential golden child of the great and beautiful northern realm of Asgard. A mighty warrior who fears nothing and no one, loved by his people, respected by his close friends, and considered to be the next ruler of the realm, Thor really does have it all...except humility, a heart, and a clue. Odin Allfather, Thor's father, is proud of his son's achievements, but fears that his oldest son's arrogance, due to skills as a warrior, will be his undoing and that is exactly what comes true.

     When Thor, his friends and his younger brother (oh yeah, did I mention that he has a brother that no one cares about?) invade the not-so-neighborly realm of Jotunheim, home to the cruel frost giants and almost starts war between the two worlds, Odin has had enough. He strips Thor of his immortal power, relinquishes his use of Mjolnir, the might hammer, and casts his son to Midgard (earth) in banishment until he can learn to be worthy of his rightful place in Asgard.

     Thor crashlands slap bang in the middle of New Mexico and in lunged into a mad 24 hr. escapade of trying to find Mjolnir, attempting (and failing) to understand the strange people of New Mexico and learning humility and kindness from independent and practical astrophysicist Dr.Jane Foster. When Thor finds Mjolnir, but is unable to wield it, due to his growing mortality, he finally understands what humility is. It's knowing your own strengths and weaknesses and using them not for yourself, but for others. Jane's friend and colleague, Erik Selvig, begins to questions Thor's origins and wonders if this is the legend he grew up hearing about when he was a child. And Jane finds herself intrigued by the handsome stranger who risks himself to help her.

     Shortly after his arrival, the small town is attacked by the the Destroyer (an Asgardian machine built for defense) that is being controlled by Thor's cruel and manipulative brother Loki. Thor sacrifices himself for the town and the people and, miracles of miracles, he discovers his true worth and wields Mjolnir to defeat the Destroyer. All might seem right in the end, but Thor knows that it is not all right up in Asgard and sadly must leave Jane to go and challenge his brother. Before he leaves, he promises Jane that he will return, but even he himself isn't prepared for what awaits him in Asgard.

      I sometimes wondered how I never paid attention to such a good movie! Now even though Thor's story is predictable from the moment Jane hit him with her car, it doesn't mean that it wasn't a good story or that Thor wasn't a good character. Actually he's a great character! Thor's imperfections mirrors man's own imperfections and when he is finally aware of them, that is when his strengths and gifts come into play. To see the transition of a mighty and powerful warrior becoming a noble and compassionate leader through humility and sacrifice is an immortal storyline that has intrigued the world for many years and many more years to come.

     Oh yeah...Chris Hemsworth totally owned Thor. Need I say anymore on the subject??

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Dr. Jane Foster
Natalie Portman as Dr. Jane Foster in
Thor (2011)
      Brainy and (sometimes) ditzy, pretty and practical, that all sums up the personality of workaholic astrophysicist, Dr. Jane Foster. Jane is completely 100% dedicated to her scientific research and study and has no time for anything or anyone else. Alongside her two colleagues Dr. Erik Selvig, a university professor and her assistant, political science major, Darcy Lewis, Jane believes that she has hit upon a historical and groundbreaking moment in history when the skies of New Mexico open up to reveal the opening of a growing wormhole. It's groundbreaking and it's historical, but it's not a wormhole, but rather a portal from another world that changes Jane's own world forever.

     Jane's first meeting with Thor is unfortunate to say the least. She hits him with her car, her assistant tasers him and then they drop him off at the hospital and conveniently forget about him. That is until Jane sees the mysterious form of a man in the photos she took from inside the wormhole.  Believing it to be the mystery man, she goes back to the hospital, finds out he's gone, insists that she's going to search all of New Mexico until she finds him...and the invariably hits him with the back of her car...again.

     After Jane takes Thor back to her research office, she becomes confused at his odd behavior, strange eating, and general rudeness toward the residents of New Mexico. Overtime, Jane begins to soften toward Thor, especially after he begins to tell her of his home. She may be confused by him, but soon her small sentimental nature takes over her usually practical side and her ambitions become lessened when she witnesses Thor's incredible act of kindness to get her journal back. When Thor sacrifices himself for her and for the small town, she finally opens up and disregards any doubts she has of him. As strange, as abnormal and as unusual as Thor might be, Jane also sees a courageous and honorable man, a sacrificial and compassionate man and a love that she never thought she could possess and that no amount of research and study could find.

     Usually Natalie Portman plays serious roles, so seeing her as the comic relief was great. I loved Jane from the very beginning. People accuse her of being overly romantic, but I never saw Jane as that. (read here for more on that subject.) Jane's main problem was her hard driven ambition that tended to replace her compassion. Even though she was the one that taught Thor about self-sacrifice, it was Thor who taught Jane to take risks and be more open minded about the world around her and to never give up on what or who you love.

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Loki Odinson/Laufeyson
Tom Hiddleston as Loki Odinson/Laufeyson in
Thor (2011)
     The god of mischief, pranks, but also of harbored jealousy and revenge, Loki is a complex and confusing character all around. He's a tragic villain, but has no capability of being honorable or good. From the time he could remember, Loki has grown up in the shadow of his older brother's greatness. Loki himself is powerful, not as a great warrior, but as a skilled sorcerer. Except, sorcery isn't exactly what's cool in Asgard and no matter where you are, being smart (even if it's manipulating) is hardly ever going to get you in the popular crowd. That seems to be the story of Loki's existence when it comes to his father who never acknowledges his existence, except only to yell at him, his brother, who bullies him around, and his brother's friends, who give no regard to him at all. Even the gatekeeper doesn't like him!

      Then the total bomb gets dropped on him when he finds out that he's a frost giant whom Odin stole from the temple when he had been abandoned there as a baby by his own father, King Laufey. Alright, Odin's heart was in the right place, but he then proceeds to tell Loki that he only wanted the child for political purposes, only after what Thor pulled in Jotunheim, Odin has no use for Loki at all. Love you too Dad. Loki's years of pent up rage toward his father, his brother and the rest of Asgard comes pouring out, much to the distress of his father, who falls into an unexpected Odinsleep. With Thor banished on earth and Odin on throne hiatus, that leaves Loki alone to rule Asgard. 

      Loki finally gets what he wants and he wastes no time in using (or abusing, however you may want to see it) his new power. Finally he is able to garner the respect that he feels he deserves from those who looked down on him for so long. First though, he must get rid of his older brother to keep him from coming back to reclaim the throne. That plan blows up in Loki's face and Thor comes back to challenge him and win back his father's throne. There's no redemption for Loki or his actions and he is thrown into a deep abyss in the cosmos, never to be seen or heard from again.

      One of the most explosive and even well loved characters in the comic book universe, it's safe to say that Loki has taken the world by storm, but why? Well, Tom Hiddleston and his incredible acting for one thing, but mainly because of his tragic backstory, his life growing up in his brother's perfection and his longing to be respected and loved by his father. I mean come on, this is the stuff of Shakespeare, with a little Rowling thrown in! 

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King Odin Allfather
Anthony Hopkins of King Odin Allfather in
Thor (2011)
     A wise and just leader who rules his country with an iron benevolence, Odin is a legend of great kings...who also tended to be terrible fathers. Now, I'll be honest, like most people, I didn't like Odin at first, mainly because of his treatment of Loki. Then I began to see that this isn't the first time in stories or even history that a great king can make for the worst father. Odin has no sentimentality at all, he's not one to have a heart to heart conversation with, either with his children or even his own wife (deleted scene).

     Odin is a warrior and a leader; he has no time for the sentiments of other, he has a realm to rule and protect. That is why he is such a powerful leader, but his ambition for the sanctity of his realm has tended to overcome his role as a father. Mainly in not nurturing a more compassionate spirit in Thor or just giving the attention and respect that Loki craved.

     In all respects, Odin is a regular dad who has to balance work and family, and somehow hope that both sides will work out, but they hardly ever do. Odin feels regret for having to banish Thor and guilty for his negligence of Loki and not telling him the truth. After Thor returns, Odin is proud of the man his son has become, but also grieves that loss of Loki. Even after almost 5,000 years as a ruler and leader, Odin knows that even he is not infallible, that there is no perfect ruler or realm, but there is redemption, forgiveness and above all courage.

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Heimdall
Idris Elba as Heimdall in
Thor (2011)
     The all seeing, all hearing and (usually) all knowing gatekeeper of Asgard and guardian of the Nine Realms. Although a powerful warrior, he is also a wise counselor, especially to Thor. Heimdall will fight to the death to protect Asgard, even if it means ignoring orders from an unjust king and facing the consequences of his actions. Although contradictory to the actual legend of Heimdall, who was said to have skin as white as snow, he was portrayed as the embodiment of loyalty, nobility and wisdom.

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Thor (2011)
     I laughed, I cried, I cheered for Thor and rooted for him and Jane, I despised and sympathized Loki with equal measure, I just loved Heimdall in general and overtime I've been able to have a better understanding of Odin himself. Another great superhero movie, but also one that won't just want you to read the comics, but go and study the legends themselves.

 (I'll have my review for the sequel written soon)

1 comment:

  1. Awwww! I love this post! I love finding someone else so enthusiastic about these characters :-) The first time I watched this movie, after I'd seen The Avengers, I honestly didn't care for it much, even though I adore Thor himself. But now that I've seen it twice more, I really quite like it. Just took me a little while to get used to its tone versus The Avengers, I think.

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