2.5.11

Thor

Well done, Mr. Branagh. Most of the (stellar) cast signed on without reading the script just because you were behind this one. And it seems to me like you worked with them in the design stage of each character. Skarsgård, Dennings and Elba had nothing roles, and yet you managed to create pay-offs for all of them. Well done, sir!

Perhaps I've been reading too much Nietzsche recently, but how about Thor as a film about the conflict between will to power and resentment? Let's run with that for five seconds. Thor is the beefy, over-confident idiot at one with his physical nature, Loki the starved, jealous schemer who sideswipes glory. I mean, the horns of his helmet are actually turned back onto himself -- the perfect symbol for the ascetic self-loathing Nietzsche so maliciously detailed. And ascetics are more interesting. Loki steals this film: a younger son with an inferiority complex who compulsively plots petty conspiracies against his brother, who ends up trying to annihilate whole worlds in order to purge his sense of being an unworthy outsider, who faces the ultimate choice between fulfillment and oblivion, because second-best is intolerable. Just about the most fully-realized and down-right Shakespearian villain in a superhero film I've seen. Up there with Ledger's Joker, for serious.

But it's not really Nietzsche, of course, because Thor is sent down to earth, crucified and resurrected in order to learn the value of humility. Love, too, although Portland's Magdalene is an astrophysicist with her own life project, and her gushing is entirely understandable when confronted with Hemsworth's frankly divine torso. It's very much the girl getting the hunk in this film. And hunkishness civilized. Thor is a barbarian in New Mexico, and the film plays on his neanderthal qualities to superb comic effect. Slowly his experience of these weak mortals teaches him to live for others, and with uncertainties. Until his friends come to get him, he has accepted exile and the fact that the Allfather is dead.

I think the film had a slight problem with pacing at the beginning, some of the editing during the dialogue scenes was clunky (we get it, Loki's silence is significant!), and some of the CGI was a bit flat. But these flaws are forgivable when we have acting, characters and themes that are so satisfyingly intelligent and beautifully accomplished. A real must, this one. Well done, Mr. Branagh!

Right. Bring on Captain America and the X-Men!

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