Film Review: Thor

Everyone seems to get their own superhero movie these days. Even Thor, well known but not the most popular of Marvel characters. It is refreshing that these lesser heroes take the spotlight once in a while, a break from the frequent instalments and re-imaginings featuring the most popular comic book protagonists (Spiderman, to name but one).

Brave and brash Thor has always been confident that he would become king. When his coronation ceremony is interrupted, Thor seeks revenge and inadvertently reignites an ancient war. Cast out of Asgard by his father Odin, Thor is banished to Earth…

Thor is an entertaining blockbuster that should please fans of the comic and general cinemagoers alike. The narrative is what one would expect from this genre. It is neither disappointing nor illuminating. Still, Thor distinguishes itself from its contemporaries as much of the action takes place in a fantasy realm. Even the scenes set on Earth occur in indistinct surroundings; the dessert of New Mexico instead of Spiderman‘s New York or The Green Hornet‘s Los Angeles.

Momentum is good in Thor; director Kenneth Branagh keeps the action moving. There is a good balance of action set pieces and conversation-heavy scenes. The ‘fish out of water’ comedy works well, and is a good contrast to the grandiose nature of what is at stake in the film.

Effects in the film are generally good, although some sequences are heavily laden with CGI. Not much in either of the two other-worlds looks real, but perhaps that is the point. Art direction in the fantasy realm scenes is fantastic; there is a real sense of spectacle. The use of 3D is inoffensive. It is easy to forget that the film is in 3D. While it is certainly a good thing that the use of 3D is not distracting, there does not seem to be a point in paying extra to see Thor this way.

Chris Hemsworth offers a good performance as Thor. He looks appropriate for the role, and offers a sincerity that is believable. Anthony Hopkins is decent as Odin, although the actor seems destined to play the grand patriarch for the rest of his career. Tom Hiddleston is suitably ambiguous as Loki. Natalie Portman has little opportunity to show range, thanks to the lack of character development.

With the references to other characters in the Marvel realm, Thor feels at times merely a precursor to the hotly-anticipated movie The Avengers. Nonetheless, Branagh’s well-crafted film is very entertaining.

Film Review: The Green Hornet

Not one of the more popular comic book superheroes, the film The Green Hornet seems destined to follow the same fate. Although the film is entertaining, it is also instantly forgettable.

Following his father’s death, Britt Reid takes over the reigns at The Daily Sentinel. When Britt and his late father’s assistant Kato stop a robbery, the pair decide to become masked crime-fighting superheroes…

There is plenty of humour in The Green Hornet, but there is also an action-driven plot of underworld crime in Los Angeles. The film would have worked a lot better if it solely followed the comedy strand. The Green Hornet is self-reflexive, therefore may have been a better film if it was a straightforward parody.

As it stands, the narrative is fairly predictable. Britt and Kato have an inevitable falling out, there is a love interest in the form of Cameron Diaz’s Lenore Case, and there is a character who is not quite what they seem. The action sequences are well produced, but there is not really anything that hasn’t already been done in previous superhero films.

Avoid seeing The Green Hornet in 3D if possible. The appearance of this extra dimension is shoddy in the scenes that use it. Otherwise, the production values are good, and the soundtrack is excellent.

Seth Rogen brings much of the humour (he co-wrote the script), but at times his acting is terrible. It is unclear whether this is intentional overacting, fitting in with the element of parody, or plain bad acting. Jay Chou is suitably classed as Kato, acting as the straight man to Rogen’s Britt. Cameron Diaz is hardly used in The Green Hornet, while Christoph Waltz is suitably ridiculous as one-dimensional villain Chudnofsky.

As a superhero, the Green Hornet is similar to Batman, in having wealth but no actual superpowers. Whereas Bruce Wayne uses his playboy lifestyle as a guise, Britt Reid genuinely lives this life. The introductory scenes do well to set-up his character; depicting a guy who parties non-stop. In one sense, Reid is the most normal and relatable of all the superheroes. Rather than an intrinsic desire to do good, Reid is driven by the buzz he got from stopping the robbery. He wants to be a superhero because it’s cool, something that fans of the genre can surely relate to.

The Green Hornet is enjoyable as mindless entertainment, but does nothing to distinguish itself from the plethora of other superhero films. By no means a must-see movie, it is not going to disappoint too many viewers either.