Thoughts on Thor

May 17, 2011 Comments Off on Thoughts on Thor

I went and saw Thor this weekend.  I liked a lot about it, but there were some things lacking. **Warning: This review contains spoilers.**

First up, I, like Benj, had problems with the score. While his complaints were largely tonal in nature, I bemoan the lack of epicness. Maybe I’ve been exposed to too much rumbling bass (thank you, Jablonsky, Rabin, Eshkeri and Badelt), but it seemed like there was something missing from the low end on scenes that should have called for great swells of strings and horn. This may seem like a minor complaint, but music sets the emotional tone of the movie when it’s done well, but can screw it up just as effectively.  The scene where this really stood out was on Thor’s coronation (?) day. The music should have made it feel like the scene at the end of A New Hope where everyone gathers to honour their hero. Instead it felt like some kid with a CD player next to his Warhammer 40K set.

Which brings me to my next complaint: the 3D. I don’t know if it was a depth of field issue with the post-conversion process or whether it was something in the original footage, but all the epic scenery pieces looked like they were filmed with a tilt-shift rig. When the point of film-making is to make the small look gigantic, any process that then makes it look like miniatures again is a failure.  I didn’t have the misfortune of watching the woefully post-converted Clash of the Titans in 3D, but if it looked anything like this, I can understand why people were disappointed.  Through the whole film, the 3D felt tacked on.  If this is what we have to look forward to in live-action 3D, I’m with Ebert (this is ignoring those few films actually, y’know, shot in 3D). In fact, the only scene that felt like it benefited from being in 3D was during the credits when a computer-animated Yggdrasil rotated onscreen behind the lead actor’s names.  This was also the only part of the movie where the score felt suitably epic.

This is too bad, because unlike others, I actually really liked the story (I know, I said I liked Spider-Man 3, too, so I’m obviously not to be trusted). It’s the mirror of Campell’s monomyth – Thor is already a hero when the story finds him, and he needs humbling before he can pick up his wise father’s mantle and rule in his stead. Instead of entering a world full of magic and the unknown, he is reduced to ordinary, but the goal is the same – transformation. He must triumph over not only an external foe, but also his own inadequacy to face the life he’s been assigned through birth. In dying (physically and metaphorically) and rising again, he becomes the new person with the necessary tools and outlook to complete both tasks.  It’s a great story well acted.

I can see the appeal for Shakespearean director Kenneth Branagh: it’s a big story, full of larger-than-life characters who go through enormous changes. It’s just too bad it looked and sounded so small.

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