Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thor (2011) Cinema Summer Session 001

Though sweeping and epic in its source material, the film version of Marvel's god of thunder Thor seems to act as a mere reflection of what it could have been. Kenneth Branaugh's summer forray into Marvel's version of norse mythology is bogged down by its inability to define itself and seems to take a step back rather than forward as films like Iron Man (1+2) and The Dark Knight have set out to do. Its really too bad because Chris Hemsworth makes for an impressive, and rather gallant god of thunder.

What could have been a chance to elevate the career of a WWE wrestler or UFC fighting champion, became a casting choice straight from the halls of Asgard itself. Hemsworth is as his father Odin, played with a surprisingly underwhelming performance by Sir Anthony Hopkins, calls a "vain and stupid boy, but one of great power and bravery." This is a guy that audiences want to know and ultimately see change over the course of the film. Although at times this seems like the focal point of Thor, there is just too much going on to really stake a claim in.  The culmination of our hero losing his godly abilities, thus being subjected to mortal life on earth, seems to only find meaning through a humbling and hastened relationship with a human (Natalie Portman). Portman's Jane Foster is instantly likeable but becomes lost in the shuffle when more complicated plot devices are used. By the time we get around to how Sir Thor feels for Lady Jane, well the results aren't quite what you'd expect from two people who literally met 24-hours before. I know that in classical literature this sort of thing, meaning love at first sight, occurred quite often but for a modern audience it might have just been too quick to know if a second date was even on the table.

All is well in the world I suppose, save for a rather convoluted plot involving a race known as the Frost Giant seeking entry into the world of the gods, a dangerous annihilating robot called The Destroyer, and a double crossing silver-tongue who takes advantage of Thor's rather unique predicament. If Director Branagh had simply focused on his greatest strength in the film, the rather Shakespearean wordplay among the gods especially that between Thor and his brother Loki, this film might have been able to break free of its sometimes overly silly design. The dialogue is actually quite intriguing and opens up more than one would expect. The scenes between the gods are among the best in the film, and perhaps in a different circumstance might have helped propel the film to a well rounded conclusion.

I suppose with a superhero film involving rainbow bridges, and artifacts containing the all encompassing power of a supernatural race- the exclusion of things like CG worlds and fantasy enemies might have turned fanboys off as being too picky, but perhaps that might have downplayed the often simplistic logic placed on the characters and events occurring around them. Speaking of the CG graphics- the muddied backgrounds and unimpressive creature designs left me wishing that a more authentic and perhaps less grandiose vision had been implemented, if it worked for a film like Lord of the Rings, it could certainly work in a fantasy film like Thor. Although, several of the set pieces and costumes, really did help to promote the films unique style. Having done production design in the past, I could appreciate the detail that went into scenes like the inauguration of Thor, the fight between Thor and Loki, and those involving the transporter room at the end of the rainbow bridge.

Tom Hiddleston is a major standout, who much like Hemsworth, embodies the role of a god with great classicism. Hiddleston's Loki is a villain torn both internally and externally and though we do not see his true intentions straight away- we feel for his pain. I suppose this is something that Hemsworth failed to bring to his Thor, as you never really feel that sorry for the guy. As for Loki, well let's just say spoiler free manifestos could not delve into the inert sense of difference this character feels when compared to his older brother. Idris Elba is a similar standout, whose fervent Heimdall the gatekeeper, keeps life around Asgard rather interesting. Heimdall has the honor of even bettering Thor in both strength and intelligence, which came across perhaps stronger than Brannagh and company might have expected. The lack of scenes showcasing the gods daily life at least allowed for characters like Loki and Heimdell to help guide the film, even if just for a short time.

Thor is a film that doesn't know what it wants to be. Is it a prequel designed merely for the introduction of Thor into the world of the Avengers, due out next summer, or is it a slightly overweight origin story that hastens Thor into existence by sticking 40 years of comic history into a 2-hour film. Either way, Thor feels like it is missing more than it shows and perhaps if sequels do arise, we can get a better understanding of just who this character truly is. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Weekly Update: May 18th 2011

I'm perpetually playing catchup with my own life, or at least that's what it seems like, so here it goes...

I haven't sat down to write without an external sense of urgency for some time and its weighing heavily on me. I am trying to juggle about ten different things at once and often times what truly motivates and inspires me seems like a distant set of unattainable distractions. Should that be the case? Should I be sweeping my dreams and desires and ambition under the rug because I don't have as much experience as a business professional or someone with a lot of money and connections? Something tells me that that feels wrong. Although there are several large events on the horizon that deem my immediate attention, marriage to my wonderful fiance Margaret and saving for a future together, I just really feel the need to bring myself back to square one and ultimately reassess what exactly I am attempting to do with my life.

Some days I feel as though everything I worked for in college was simply just to pass the time or to appease my sense of misguidance in a world without opportunity, and now that I am paying for it through largely "over grossed" loans I can't help but feel even more confined to my past missteps as I transition from undergraduate education to the "real" world outside of it. Now that graduation  has become a past event, in December it will be two years, my desire to go back to school and continue my education has more than doubled since my original decision to "one day" apply. As of Tuesday, Margaret and I have obtained both the 2011 GRE study book and a set of flashcards- hello study weekend!

Settling into an improper and mostly unfulfilling business oriented "job" seems downright out of character at this time in my life, and will probably continue to carry similar sympathies long into the unknown future. I didn't go to school to work in business, at least not corporate business, and it really saddens me to see every chance for opportunity get eaten up before I have a chance to state my case. I need sustenance and I am asking to be feed, but where are the routes of this journey leading? I cannot say.

I want to utlize creativity, writing, media, film, television, teaching, education, promotions, music, literature, video games, video production, social justice non profiting, documentaries, theology, philosophy, philanthropy, stewardship, creative management, and creative design to revolutionize the world. I want to invent, I want to envision, I want to design, I want to foster new ideas and new avenues of originality. I need to BE.

For the last year and 5 months I have settled for what was right in front of me, and though I know things like the economy and lack of networking contacts factor into its success rate, I don't want to accept this as MY life. At the very most some things hold a sense of promise and progress that things like my degree have not like my consistently growing relationship with Margaret and my ongoing strife in self discovery. However, I am not getting paid to have those breakthroughs take place and regardless of what I wish to achieve in this life, as it stands right now I am tethered to a stack of debts and constantly finding myself in need of financial assistance. This sounds like a broken record to so many people, many of which are more qualified than I; but in reinstating my case my desire to do something greater grows exponentially each day, and sometimes I fear I might just explode.

I am officially on the warpath for a new job as well as a new motivational desire to revitalize my lagging time spent in projects, writing, and making progress in applying to graduate schools.

Here's to the beginning of something new and exciting.