Thursday, May 05, 2011


Got a chance to see a screening of THOR last night hosted by the LA Times with a Q&A with Kenneth Branagh and Chris Hemsworth. I've always enjoyed the THOR comic and character. If you know me you know Walt Simonson's THOR is in my top five comics of all time. Great epic stories and art. After reading those comics the standard for what a THOR story can be is set pretty high. That being said I didn't have high hopes for the movie. From the trailers it felt more like Hulk and less like Iron Man. After waiting in a huge line for about an hour we were let in. I have to say the LA Times Hero Complex crew was well organized and on point. They managed the crowd got everyone seats and free popcorn and drinks. The theater itself is the sort of IMAX mini screen but was still huge. If you can see the movie in 3D IMAX it's on a whole other level.

(Mini Spoilers ALERT!)

Okay so if you are still reading you don't care about spoilers or in this case mini spoilers. I don't want to give the whole movie away. The story starts out pretty fast paced on Earth but quickly moves to Asgard. Suffice to say Asgard is like this amazing futuristic Jack Kirby/modern concept art mash up that made me think of how f%$king cool would it be to see a New Gods movie. Branagh get's down to not only telling the story but also character building from the moment the movie starts. Despite all the beautiful eye candy not a chance is missed to reinforce and build the characters and every scene is edited to get the information and drama or epic nature of the scene without dragging. He really captured the right balance between a complex comic story and action adventure pacing without cutting down on the actors. It really works as a super hero Shakespearean toned adventure. The actors and dialogue leads with the effects riding shot gun.

I sometimes forget how great Anthony Hopkins is when he is given a great role to wrap his acting skills around. He owns the part of Odin and his father son relationship with THOR an Loki reveals so much about their characters without having him play the part as Johnny the Explainer.

The Frost Giants are played as force of nature and THOR's adventure into their realm is on par with any of the action scenes from LOTR. The Frost Giant King comes off as noble/savage and a bit scary. All well played.

Once things move to Earth Natalie Portman and crew brings the THOR out of water story to life. Natalie Portman comes off very Julia Roberts like in that every scene with Hemsworth is funny, cute or touching. The chemistry is great and Portman earns her Geek street cred back post Star Wars.

As for Hemsworth. He becomes THOR. Maybe it's his acting or maybe it's the fact that I only know him only as Kirk's father in the Trek reboot but he really inhabited the character. I do believe he will be taking over Hugh Jackman's spot as the Geek hunk de jour.

The movie has a ton of Easter Eggs and lots of humor and action. I won't spoil the ending or give away much more. THOR is right up there with the first X-Men and the first Iron Man as far as Marvel movie go.

In the Q&A afterword Branagh discussed his love of the character and the idea that THOR is such a genre mashup and that's what appealed to him as a director. He also keyed in on the selling the relationships between the characters even without the costumes and effects. Obviously he understands the craft of acting and he looks to give each of his actors the tools to put their skills on display. Branagh also talked about the epic nature of Marvel's plans for the crossover of the movies and characters. He seemed into the idea and was very interested in doing a THOR sequel. He also talked about how they did concept art and animatics for at least two more huge fight scenes that he would like to use in other THOR films ending of course with Ragnarok.

Hemsworth talked about how they built a fighting style based of the poses from the comic. This is pretty evident in the movie with certain poses looking like Simonson and others like Hitch. He said they looked at footage of Mike Tyson punching to get the savagery of a hit and get that across in THOR's fighting style. He also talked about working with Joss Whedon on the Avengers and that he was leaving to start shooting it in New Mexico.

In other news I'll be signing and doing free sketches this Sat. for FREE COMICS DAY at Geoffrey's Comics in Gardena from 10-12. Come down and get a free comic and a free sketch!

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