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Thor (no major spoilers)
A few notes before we get into the meat of the thing:

First, the trailers were of course all genre films, and some looked okay -- but man, the Captain America trailer rocks. It manages to blend the vibe of the older comics with just the right touch of Indiana Jones, and if the movie's anywhere near as good as this looks, it may be the summer's hit. Fingers crossed.

Second, after Your Highness and now Thor, I am coming to the conclusion that somewhere out there, at the side of some set, there is a chair inscribed, "Whosoever sits in this seat, should they be worthy, shall possess the power of Patrick Stewart!" Because really, Natalie Portman does seem to be moving into his ecological niche of the Real Actor who appears in genre films to give them that sheen of respectability.

Third, Monday is a really good time to go to the movies if you like a quiet time of it. Despite this being the current smash hit, the cinema was deserted.

And fourth, while I had known that Stan Lee had a cameo in the film, I hadn't realized who the *other* cameo was until he showed up on film. It's much funnier when you're not expecting it. (I recognized him, said "Wait -- what?" and wasn't certain until he showed up in the credits.)


Overall, my rating is Not Half Bad. It's not a work of high art, but it's really not trying to be: instead, it's trying to go for the mythological side of comics in a big way, and it pretty much succeeds. It's big and loud, but *not* an entirely brainless action flick -- the characters really are the center of the movie, and it has a good deal more quiet humor than one usually expects from these things.

The usual caveat applies as for any good comic-book film: do *not* expect a faithful adaptation of the comic. The details are all wrong, and if you are expecting otherwise, you're in for a disappointment.

That said, the important question for any comic-book film is: did they get it? And in this case, I think they did. In particular, the movie is all about (IMO) the two most important parts of the Thor mythos. First, this is Thor's origin, and it gets the spirit of that origin right. (Irresponsible cosmic frat boy gets exiled to Earth to teach him a lesson.) And second, that the heart of the story has always been the relationship between Thor and Loki. Honestly, I think Loki steals the movie: this is his origin story as well, and I think this is the best I've ever seen it handled. This is a Loki who isn't cackling evil -- he's rather complex (at least by Asgardian standards), and broken in some terribly human ways. I get the distinct impression that Branagh signed up on this film to tell Loki's story, because he is much more *directed* than Thor is.

There are the usual thousand-and-one nods to miscellaneous Marvel continuity, but more importantly they get most of the right characters in. Heimdall and Odin are significant players, and Sif and the Warriors Three get quite a bit of screen time. Jane Foster has been completely rewritten, but I'm willing to forgive that: she was never the most interesting character in the comic, I'm afraid. The only major character missing is Balder, and he's just less *fun* than most of the rest.

And of course, the special effects are quite grand, but with an eye towards the originals. Jack Kirby would have been proud of this interpretation of Asgard, and Charley observed that the armor all greatly evokes Simonson. We saw it in 3D, and I didn't find it annoying -- they're getting better at it -- but I don't think you'd be missing a huge amount (and you'd certainly save a bundle) if you watch it in good old 2D.

So: if you are looking for an action flick with just a bit of intelligence, this is worth seeing; if you like comic-book movies, and *especially* if you're enjoying the current Marvel run, it's a must-see. Don't go in with high expectations, but it's a good time.

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As an old school Marvel fan, the tag at the end of the credits made me gasp out loud. I knew that there would be something at the end to tie into the Avengers arc, but I never expected that (the benefits of avoiding spoilers).

As for the Cap trailer. Yeah it looks amazing. I read that they originally planned to have another actor do the pre-serum Steve Rogers scenes (which were much shorter than in the final version), but actor Chris Evans fought with them about it because he believed (rightly) that pre-serum Steve is the heart of the character and it needed to be built up to make Cap believable.

Oh, yeah, I just can't understand the folks who walked out at the "end". C'mon, you fools, have you learned nothing?

Liked the bit with the sniper, amusing Easter egg for the next movie.

I saw it from the perspective of a kid who read all of the Marvel comics when they first came out so I actually had a vested interested in what was going to happen to Peter Parker, Thor and Sgt. Fury(and His Howling Commandos).

I actually enjoyed the movie and agree with you that you have to toss out faithfulness to the original comics. (Nick Fury wasn't a black guy, ya know.)

This movie came across as an introduction to all the anticipated sequels and eventual guest appearances by, well, everybody. The tag line at the end of the credits ties it perfectly with Iron Man.

Go, put your brain in real-time neutral and enjoy it for what it's supposed to be, a live action comic book, fer cryin' out loud.

Yours is the best rating I've come across: Not Half Bad. I enjoyed it in a half filled theater on Friday and was quite enjoyable in 2D.

wah wah wah i need to see movie. and by the time i am back friday EVERYONE will have seen it

Are there any films of his characters where Stan Lee *hasn't* had a cameo?

I'm not sure which bit you mean about the "other" cameo, because I can't think of any that I would have thought deserve spoiler protection. The writer? Other Stan Lee characters?

The movie was written by J. Michael Straczynski, who bears quite the resemblance to one of the townies...

If that's what Justin meant, I caught that; it prompted my "The writer?" question. What made me unsure was that it didn't seem worthy of spoiler protection.

I think they were just being obtuse. I personally would have preferred knowing it was there, I don't think I caught it.

I believe that Stan doesn't have a cameo in the SECOND X-men movie. He's a hot dog vendor on the beach in the first one.
-- Dagonell

I watched it in 2D, just for scheduling purposes, and it was great! Though, I don't think there is a price difference around here. I honestly didn't know which D it would be until I walked past the glasses stand and didn't need to grab a pair.

Also, I loved it!

The price difference here was monumental: we had decided somewhat arbitrarily to go to the 3D showing, only to discover that it cost $15 a seat. It's nice, but it's certainly not worth that sort of surcharge...

That's why I've been complaining about 3D. I don't have a problem with it artistically (although you saw my complaint that they need to increase the lumens to compensate for the gray lenses), but the additional $4.50 for the use of the glasses is just wrong. And yes, they still charge you even if you bring your own.

"Whosoever sits in this seat, should they be worthy, shall possess the power of Patrick Stewart!"

I love this. I love it even more, imagining it delivered by Sean Connery.

Hah! Yes, it's true that there is a venerable tradition here...

I was never a big Marvel fan. (I'm a DC fanboy who's been waiting for 50 years -- no, really! -- for the Green Lantern movie, so expect me to have a lot to say about that.) And I'm weaker on the Norse pantheon than on the Greco-Roman. So I can offer the "virginal" perspective here, as a viewer with no expectations or pre-conceived notions.

We saw it in 3D at a matinee on Sunday, at $5 a pop, so that was a bargain. It was a diverting couple of hours, but I wouldn't call it great. I was a bit surprised at Portman being there, and I thought there wasn't much in the role for her to sink her teeth into. As for being "the Real Actor who appears in genre films to give them that sheen of respectability"...well, we also had Anthony Hopkins and Stellan Skarsgard and Rene Russo and Colm Feore, all "real actors". Sometimes they're there to give that sheen, sometimes they see something in the role that the audience misses, and sometimes they -- Idunno -- have to pay off their gambling debts or coke dealers or something. How else to explain all the grade-Z Croatian-Indonesian co-production Evil High Priest roles we've seen Sir Ben Kingsley do in recent years?

auntie_elspeth was pleased with Chris Hemsworth, but I doubt it was for his acting. I know my wife's preferred type, and I know I ain't it %^).

Talking with friends after the movie, I was surprised to be told that Loki's origin in actual Norse mythology was much as it was portrayed in the film. I had no idea.

That ninja-Viking guy was jarring. I thought it a sop to PC-ness, and the simple fact that -- sigh -- you are required to have some bloke doing Oriental martial-arts moves in an action film like this. But I liked Heimdall a lot: I kept seeing diablu in that role.

Tom Hiddleston and Brent Spiner: separated at birth?

Overall, given the strong actors, director (Branagh) and writer (JMS), I would have expected a much stronger product, even within the constraints (whatever they were) of keeping true to the comic. It was fun, and visually appealing, but it wasn't great.

re: pleased with Chris Hemsworth

rosinavs and I agreed that the film was *superb* from the neck down.

The "ninja-Viking" guy was in the comic book more than 40 years ago. Does that reduce your objection to the "PC-ness"?

Is Hogun actually oriental in the comics? He's not generally drawn as such, although I suppose his clothing is rather Mongol. (He might well be, but I'm not recalling an origin story for him...)

He's looked Asian from the beginning. I don't think he ever had an origin story, but it wouldn't matter much, since none of these characters came from our plane, much less our planet, so of *course* he isn't "really" Asian -- and Thor isn't "really" Scandinavian, by the same token.

I do remember, by some weird twist of (my not-very-good) memory, that Hogun isn't Aesir, unlike his comrades in arms. I don't remember any reason that mattered, though...

Yeah, I echo jducoeur's comment here. Was he really a Jackie Chan modern martial-arts type in the original comic? From 40 years ago? Okay, if you say so. But given the treatment of Orientals (and similar peoples, like the Inuit Tom "Pieface" Kalmaku from GL) during that era, I'm really surprised. The canonical example here is Chop-Chop from the Blackhawks, but one could also cite the Green Hornet's man Friday, Kato. Kato at least had some grit, and Pieface was a highly competent mechanic, but still, they were subservient sideline players. Chop-Chop was offensive even to 12-year-old me in 1961; I remember feeling that was wrong.

Well, even if he *is* oriental, like I said his look is more Mongol than Japanese. The "ninja" thing is certainly new to the movie. (Although that may be a misstatement: even in the movie, his weapon is, correctly, a not-very-ninjaish mace.) But it's possible that Lowell is right that this isn't a new piece of PC...

Talking with friends after the movie, I was surprised to be told that Loki's origin in actual Norse mythology was much as it was portrayed in the film. I had no idea.

And it's generally correct in the comic, as well. I don't know that we've ever seen it depicted so well, but the broad strokes have been canon for a very long time.

That ninja-Viking guy was jarring. I thought it a sop to PC-ness

Yeah, it was a little odd. He actually fits the look of Hogun the Grim decently well, but the accent kept being just too ridiculous. And Volstagg wasn't nearly fat enough, but I'm not sure that a human being who looks like the comic book character would actually be able to walk, and they did get his attitude just right. (The running gag is that Volstagg looks like a complete tub of lard -- which produces a lot of shock and awe when he actually wades into battle.) But Fandral (the dashing swordsman) was dead-on perfect. And while Heimdall of course isn't black in the original (they are all supposed to be Norse, after all), the actor completely nailed the attitude...

Oh right, I forgot to warn you to stay in the theatre until the absolute positive end of the last of the credits. Please tell me you did.

I'm interested in the cameos as I don't think I managed to spot either of them. I don't know what Stan Lee looks like (I could Google it now, but that doesn't help me 3 days in the past) and I clearly missed the other one entirely.

Stan Lee? If you've seen most of the Marvel films in the last decade, he should be looking like familiar background by now. Otherwise, who cares; he's just another Jewish guy from NYC.

But, slightly more seriously: Thor (and companions, especially the Warriors Three) should be viewed as a case where he made a positive contribution to characters, but his brother deserves the credit for the characters themselves.

Oh right, I forgot to warn you to stay in the theatre until the absolute positive end of the last of the credits. Please tell me you did.

Mais oui -- I've seen the previous films in the series, so I know there's always a tag. I will admit that it took me a second or two to realize what I was seeing -- at which point Charley and I agreed that the Avengers movie is suddenly looking a lot more interesting than we'd previously thought.

Stan Lee was the old guy who manages to break his truck on the hammer. I'll email you the other one. (It's a minor detail, but other sharp-eyed fans may enjoy spotting it.)

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