Thor Movie Review: By Odin’s Beard, T’is a Thor-ough Treat!

If you are reading this, then you’re probably a big Thor fan like me. The God of Thunder has hit Philippine cinemas straight from the pages of Marvel Comics. I am an avid follower of Thor for various reasons. But primarily, my fondness for this character is rooted from the fact that I really enjoy reading Norse Mythology in all its forms. Besides, unlike other favorite comics superheroes, the Thunder God’s story is the only one oozing with godly essence. Here’s my take on this year’s Thor movie, directed by Kenneth Branagh with screenplay by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stenz, and Don Payne and based on the comics story by J. Michael Straczynski and Mark Protosevich.

Thor Movie (2011)

I Hate Spoilers, But Thor Told Me to Write Anyway

If you’re not familiar with Marvel Comics’ resident superhero god, here’s the rundown.For centuries, the realm of Asgard – led by the All-Father Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins) – had waged war against their sworn enemy, the Frost Giants. These monstrous walking popsicles, led by Laufey, wanted to conquer all of the nine realms under the World Tree, also called Yggdrasil. Finally, in 970 A.D., a big battle between the Asgardians and the Frost Giants ensued. Needless to say, the Asgardians (also called Aesir) won the day. As a trophy, Odin seized the Casket of Ancient Winters which provided the power (think of it as the freezer coolant) to the Frost Giants.

Fast forward to the present, all of Asgard was about to witness the ascension of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) as successor to Odin. But this most glorious of days was interrupted by a small band of Frost Giants who had deviously entered the city of the gods to retrieve the Casket. And they almost succeeded in obtaining their target had they not been fried to bits by the Destroyer, an indestructible suit of armor created by Odin himself and intended to be the last line of defense of Asgard.

After the dust had settled, the young arrogant Thunder God wanted to know why and how those Frost Giants were able to sneak into the weapons hall of Asgard. Thor proposed an attack on Jotunheim (home world of the Frost Giants) to show the frosties who’s the boss in all the Nine Realms. But Odin ordered Thor to do no such thing as it could ruin the current truce between Asgard and Jotunheim.

Thor stubbornly disobeyed his father’s orders and went to Jotunheim anyway, accompanied by Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander), Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Hogun (Tadanobu Asano), Fandral (Joshua Dallas), and Loki (Tom Hiddleston). In Jotunheim, Thor’s party engaged the Frost Giants in a skirmish, which quickly snowballed into a full-blown battle involving six Asgardians against hordes of frost giants. Armed with his hammer Mjolnir, Thor is simply unbeatable. In the last minute, Odin arrived mounted on his eight-legged steed called Sleipnirthe. The All-Father stopped the fight, brought Thor and his company back to Asgard, and ultimately banished Thor to Midgard – that’s Earth. And that, my friends, is where the Thunder God’s – and Earth’s – troubles have begun.

The Bottom Line

The essence of the story is Thor’s human element. Here’s an arrogant, selfish, vain god cast down to Midgard by his own father Odin who wanted to teach his boy a lesson or two. In short, even gods need some spanking. One isn’t born into whatever he wants to do in life. Oftentimes, we have to lift our own hammers and fight for what we believe is ours for the taking – just watch out for government guys and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents!

I must admit, Thor movie has exceeded my expectations. For the past few months, I was worried that my favorite comicbook character’s jump on the big screen will be the cause of his downfall. Also, it didn’t help me a bit to know that director Kenneth Branagh, while he is a great great actor (remember Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), is best known for his directorial works that focus mainly on Shakespearean plays.

Sure, the way that Asgardians talk to each other would have big similarities to many of the characters in William Shakespeare’s theater pieces, but we’re talking Norse legends here not some cross-eyed lovers or English kings. But after watching Thor movie, I take it all back. All my doubts about Kenneth Branagh’s ability to bring to life one of the most beloved characters in the Marvel Universe are all without substance.

The film was able to seamlessly combine the worlds of gods and mortals into one kickass story. Sir Anthony Hopkins as the All-Father Odin is just phenomenal. Even Hollywood newcomer Chris Hemsworth truly embodies the physical features of the Thunder God and was exceptionally extraordinary as Thor. The supporting cast also delivered. As for Loki, it would seem that Tom Hiddleston was conjured by the gods themselves to play the role. He’s just so convincing.

In terms of visual effects, Thor movie also got everything right. The rendering of the Bifrost bridge was just plain awesome. Plus, the Destroyer armor is truly alive. Costume design is also very impressive. Overall, avid fans will find an instant sense of endearment to this Thor movie adaptation.

On the downside, I think Volstagg was not as huge as he should have been. And I still prefer Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) as nurse or medical doctor rather than an astrophysicist. Also, I can’t help but ask where Balder and Tyr are? Perhaps, we’ll see these characters in the sequel. Yes, shameless as it is, Thor is one of those flicks that I would love to have a sequel.

Weekly Comic Book Review (Nov. 11): Comic Book Guy Saga Ends, Return of Bruce Wayne Finale

This week’s comic book review really drained my wallet. It’s one of those weeks where most of my favorite titles come out simultaneously. What did me in was the deluge of Thor comics, which have steadily increased in number recently, owing to the fact that a Thor movie adaptation is scheduled for release in 2011. Anyway, here are the titles that made my top list for this week:

American Vampire #8

Writer Scott Snyder never ceases to amaze me. In this issue, he presents a new take on vampires by letting it slip that they actually have several breeds (not just covens). Each breed has its own unique weakness that hunters can use to their advantage. But more than that, I believe that future issues will be jam-packed with battles not just among vampire families, but among different breeds.

American Vampire #8

Many characters in the comic book have already appeared previously, but new ones are also coming into play. Issue #8 is biting (no pun intended) and interlaced with new revelations that American Vampire fans should not miss. Pencil work by Rafael Albuquerque and colors by Dave McCaig add more vibrancy to an already intense storyline.

Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne #6

Return Of Bruce Wayne #6

This is an epic end to an epic series and just what fans can expect from the great Grant Morrison. This is the story of how Batman finally arrives in the here-and-now, which we’ve seen in Batman and Robin #16. As a whole, the issue is an analysis of what makes the Dark Knight the greatest superhero in DC Universe. Here we see Batman, yet again and singlehandedly, getting ahead of the Justice League and rendering them defenseless. And with everything that exists depending on him, Batman fights Darkseid in a contest of intelligence and wits. Of course the Dark Knight wins. Indeed, for as long as Gotham City still needs him…and the night’s not over, Batman’s here to stay.

Ultimate Comics Thor #2

Ultimate Thor #2

Impressive pacing, great art, and intense revelations are packed in this issue. First, Dr. Donald Blake conducts a thorough examination of a man who believes he’s Thor. Our good doctor—who’s actually the real Thor—finds out that the man’s claims are actually coming out from memories and not from some schizophrenic episode. The question is, if the man’s recollections are valid, what would that make Dr. Blake?

Next, we see Thor, Balder, Loki and The Warriors Three in a friendly gladiatorial match among themselves. It happened ages ago as the Asgardians celebrated their victory against the Frost Giants. Even Loki was such a good sport and it would seem that peace ruled the home of the gods in those days.

Finally, the comic book pages transport readers to scenes during World War II. We see Baron Zemo successfully harnessing the power of the Norn stones and opening the gates that allowed the Frost Giants to cross the time stream into the 1940’s. Together, the Nazi war machine and the Frost Giants launch an attack on Asgard, even killing one of its bravest citizens. Again, the question is who’s the guy wearing the hood of Baron Zemo?

Victorian Undead II: Holmes vs. Dracula #1

Victorian Undead: Sherlock Holmes Vs Dracula #1

Professor Moriarty and his zombies are done for. The destruction that they brought upon London has been cleared away and life in the city slowly gets back to normal. But a new menace has been washed ashore. As Sherlock Holmes and his loyal friend Dr. Watson have been commissioned to look into the mystery behind what remains of the ship Demeter, a bad moon is rising. Count Dracula is at large, not only in the streets, but also in the highest rungs of the British monarchy. This is a new arc in the Victorian Undead saga and a perfect starting point for new readers of the series.

Chaos War Thor #1

Chaos War Thor #1

This special tie-in to the Chaos War saga gives Thor fans a deeper, even a bit philosophical look into the God of Thunder. A cosmic battle with a demon-god named Glory hurls Thor back to earth, landing in his mortal form known to us as Dr. Donald Blake. For me, the battle scenes are actually the best part of the issue. But there’s more to the story.

Being cared for by Becca Steinhardt, a widow and polytheist, we see the amnesiac Dr. Blake locked in a discussion about faith in the eyes of an average believer. To a certain extent, the drama in this comic book can be profound as two individuals try to heal themselves – Thor trying to get his memories back and Becca looking for comfort and hope after her family perished in an accident years ago.

Comic Book Guy: The Comic Book #5

Comic Book Guy #5

It’s another finale of epic proportions. Comic Book Guy’s saga has come to an end and the revelations that occurred will definitely shock fans. By far, this is the grittiest issue in the series, featuring a history of Comic Book Guy that spells out what makes him THE Comic Book Guy. Well, at the very least, Springfield gets its famous comic book store back under old management. But this is not to say that the characters in The Simpsons will drift down into normal lives. I hope not.