was better, by far, than I could have imagined. I was completely taken aback at how it managed to balance being so funny
with being so completely serious, and captivatingly so. I hope Kenneth Branaugh is proud of himself. He did actually manage to meld an almost assuredly mindless action film with something possessing more gravitas in order to generate a popcorn flick that still made you feel ways about stuff.
A lot of credit must be given to the leads, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. "What is my motivation?" may be a cliche, but cliches are cliches for a reason, and it seems like both men took the time to really probe at the corners of their characters. This may have been especially hard to do for Thor, who starts off as something akin to a high school football hero making the most of his big fish, small pond status (right before being slapped with the reality of the real world that doesn't give a shit that he can throw a ball however many feet). There's almost no "there" there, and while that's sort of the point--Thor has a lot
of growing up to do--Hemsworth still managed to find shades of uncertainty, even self-doubt in his character. In particular, ( minor spoiler )
One criticism I've heard is that Thor's maturity comes too fast. Indeed, it may--especially as regards the obligatory romantic subplot--but there's very little unnatural to it because you can pick up the threads that were woven, quite deftly and subtly, earlier in the movie. You have to be paying attention. For all that I admit to drooling over the man's body (oh how I drooled), I found myself most excited by his eyes. Hemsworth does a lot of emoting through significant gazes, and they are often just as sexy as the rest of him. (Oh so sexy. Holy God.)
Tom Hiddleston has a much richer part as Loki, and, as the antagonist, he should, really. Loki is a difficult character because, unlike some trickster archetypes, he doesn't really stand a chance of being misunderstood in a brainless bit of fiction. Loki is always
the one you're going to suspect, and you'd be right to because he's probably doing something very naughty. Which is funny because most of what would have been Loki's mischievous ways starts off being only the hearsay of other characters. He's accused of having a "silver tongue" even though the worst you could say of him for most of the movie is that he has a politician's gift for extraditing himself--and others--from situations that might reflect poorly on him. For the most part, too, Hiddleston plays Loki as a straight-shooter with a sense of playfulness. An occasionally dangerous
sense of playfulness, but not an unsympathetic one. He may even have been right
to pull the prank he does at the beginning, ( minor spoiler )
Loki is incredibly savvy, very observant, and very atypical in his antagonism. He is not malicious, not needlessly so, but he knows where to stick which pokers to stir the pot the best effect. All of the credit can be given to Hiddleston for that, as far as I'm concerned. Looking at trivia about the film on the IMDB, I read that Hiddleston put himself on a very strict diet so that he would physically
have a very hungry, sharpish aspect. And, now I think of it, he absolutely did. So you have this aura of starving, ravenous ambition at the edges of a performance where Hiddleston is otherwise very open--his face seems completely honest (the better to fool you with, my dear). You can believe his every emotion to be sincere even as his actions scream of duplicity. It's really a nuanced bit of character writing enhanced by a phenomenally minimalist performance.
That there is even this much to say about performances is a testament to the effort to make something more of Thor
than just about anyone could have expected. There's more X-Men 2
to this than there is, say, Iron Man
, despite my liking both. Iron Man
is a tad skimpy on the thoughtfulness at times in favor of action and humor. I think Thor
manages to combine that with the consideration of causes and effects, especially as regards statecraft, and it comes out the better for it. In the end, will I want to rewatch Iron Man
more often? Oh, probably, but that doesn't take away the fact that Thor
achieved something here. Captain America
, the bar has been raised.
(Also: ZOMG CHRIS HEMSWORTH IS
SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOT. I cannot overstate how entirely distracting that man is. All weekend, if I would let my mind drift it drifted to this.
And I really like what's going on around them hips in this shot
, boy. I maintain that if you are female and claim to be heterosexual and
you don't think he's hot, you are lying
. All the ladies were aflutter after the MAY MOVIE, and with good reason. Personally, much as I want to lick that rise of muscle just over his pants in that one shot, I was as much in love with the bee-ee-ee-youuu-tiful
eyes he has. Because they are very pretty. Very, very, verily.)