This was definitely the year of the super hero movie. X-Men, Thor, Green Lantern, Green Hornet, and Captain America. Of those, I saw Captain America and X-Men: First Class in the theater. I enjoyed both of those films. They were entertaining and certainly passable super hero flicks. That said, neither of them rose to the level of, “Oh man! I can’t wait for the Blu-Ray to come out so that I can buy it!” Well, earlier this week i received my beloved Netflix (or is it Qwickster) envelope in the mail and inside was a copy of Thor. I hadn’t really read much about the film so when I got around to watching it I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Honestly, I was expecting something along the lines of the much maligned Green Lantern movie. Well, my expectations were pleasantly wrong.
Overall, Thor was probably the most entertaining movie I have seen all year. Since 2008 the best super hero movies have been, without a doubt, The Dark Knight and Iron Man. Well, let me just say that this film is now on my list of the top three super hero movies since 2008. It does not have the raw intensity of Knight or sense of realism of Iron Man, but it has a huge heart, great comedy, and a well paced and filmed story.
To quote my wife, “Thor works because it embraces the camp.” Yes, Thor is a bit of campy character and the film, rather than trying to be gritty and realistic, embraces the odd parts of the characters. This makes for some positively hilarious moments when Thor finds himself interacting with mortals on earth.
Also, I can’t say enough about the filming and editing style that Kenneth Brannagh brings to the table. He largely shelves the, “invention of Satan himself,” shaky cam in favor of easy to follow and well choreographed action sequences. It’s refreshing today to have a director let the camera pull back and really show what’s going on. Also, I’m sure that it is Brannagh’s experience with Shakespeare that makes many of the royal elements of the film really come to life.
There’s also a wonderful chemistry between Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth that lends a real heart to the romantic elements of the story. The romance here, while maybe a bit rushed, still feel natural. I also love that Thor is shown to be a sort of old fashioned knight in how he treats Portman’s Jane Foster. There’s answeetness to their relationship that was completely refreshing when it seems that most movie romances today are dominated by cynicism and a mean spirit.
I’m not kidding when I say this is the most I have enjoyed a film in a long time. Thor is definitely worth the time and money to rent, buy, and support. Not only is it a great super hero film, it’s easily one of the best of 2011. Here’s hoping the spirit of fun and adventure that was a part of this movie carries over into any sequels and into The Avengers next year.