'THOR' Review by Steve Oatney —
I’ve now seen Thor, twice. I still enjoyed it, the second time, and as a fanboy, I do intend to own it when it comes out on DVD. However, I did watch with a more critical eye, the second go-round, than I did previously. Being such a fan of the Marvel comic, and also of Norse mythology, I went in feeling skeptical, but in truth was blinded by my eagerness to see my favorite Viking-god on the big screen.
The film isn’t Academy Award worthy. The story is somewhat blah, and even the “twist” [SPOILER] of Loki being his half-breed half-brother (from another mother) who turns on his adoptive family, didn’t impress me as much as I’m sure Kenneth Branagh had hoped it would. The love story between Thor and Jane Foster was stunted and didn’t feel nearly passionate enough for an alien being-slash-god to fall in love with Natalie Portman’s human character. I liked Hiddleston, Gregg, & Portman’s performances, but was disappointed in the acting of Hemsworth, Hopkins, Skarsgard, Russo, Stevenson, and Dennings. I just didn’t feel they were anything more than actors in costumes, running lines, and several of them are actors I respect HIGHLY, and whom I’ve loved in their previous works.
I do have to say that Thor doesn’t compare when measured up against The Dark Knight or Iron Man, but I do feel that Thor tries to be more of a “comic-book” movie, than either of the other two films, and succeeds quite well. The Dark Knight is just a great film, that happens to have a comic-book superhero in the lead role. If Batman were replaced by a non-comic hero, it would still have been a great film. Iron Man also is a great sci-fi/action film, which felt a bit more like a comic, than TDK did, but Thor really felt like comic-book storytelling, to me. While the camerawork and CGI was realistic in Thor, and not like that of Sin City (meant to visually look like a graphic novel), the overdone costumes and characters in Thor, paired with the underwhelming acting, felt two-dimensional, even in 3-D.
At first glance, I’d have given Thor an A-, probably, but now I feel it is more of a C+, though parts of it still make me grin from ear to ear, as though I were eleven years old again, and reading about the god-of-thunder in the full-color printed pages of my comic books. For instance, seeing Jeremy Renner grab a high-tech bow from the S.H.I.E.L.D. armory, brought out my spastic inner geek in a big hurry as goosebumps raised on my skin, and my heartbeat raced, both times I saw the film. While many moviegoers may not have even realized that was a cameo introduction of Hawkeye, to appear in the upcoming Joss Whedon film The Avengers, we comic geeks spotted it right off. Hawkeye may not have been the strongest of Marvel superheroes, but much like DC Comic’s Green Arrow, I always liked that both archers were non-supernatural, non-mutated, human men, just like Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark.
Thor may not have been the best comic-book superhero movie made, to date, but it certainly wasn’t anywhere near the worst. I enjoyed the film, and love that it helps set the stage for The Avengers to come in May, 2012, where I’ll be chomping at the bit to see a sneak preview of what I hope will be the best super-team movie, ever, towering well over the X-Men series. I have no idea what plans Joss Whedon has for bringing Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Nick Fury, Black Widow, and Hawkeye together, but I have very high hopes for the end result.
COMIC-CON 2010 panels review by Steve Oatney —
I never knew what the movie panels were like at Comic-Con. I’ve attended for almost two decades, as an artist, but had yet to go to any panels. With so many good ones on the schedule, this year… and with my personal schedule freer than usual, I made the effort to get in line for Hall H, which holds 6,500 of the most die-hard sci-fi movie fans you will ever meet. Here is what we were able to see:
Resident Evil: Afterlife - Director Paul Anderson brought us a trailer the fourth installment in the horror series, following Milla Jovovich as Alice and Ali Larter as Claire Redfield, fighting virally infected undead, once again. This time, in 3-D. I was disappointed by this panel, despite my deep love for Milla (which will never die).
Let Me In (Let the Right One In) - Director Matt Reeves brought along Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass), Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road), and Richard Jenkins (Eat Pray Love). Based on the Swedish film “Let the Right One In,” the story is about a bullied young boy who befriends a young female vampire, living secretly with her guardian. The trailer is powerful, intense, heartfelt, and amazing!
Paul - Director Greg Mottola showed us a hilarious look at a comedy about two comic book geeks who start at Comic-Con and travel across the USA. They encounter an alien, near Area 51, which begins their wild ride. An all-star cast, was there, including Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Jeffrey Tambor, and the sci-fi goddess herself, Sigourney Weaver!!!
Cowboys & Aliens - Director John Favreau is presently filming what looks to be one of the most awesome sci-fi films for 2011, if not the whole next decade! Daniel Craig, Sam Rockwell, and Harrison Ford will star, and yes, THEY WERE ALL THERE!!! Harrison rarely does appearances, and has NEVER done Comic-Con before this year! How lucky were we?! Also in the incredible trailer they presented were: Olivia Wilde (Tron Legacy), and Clancy Brown (Highlander).
Captain America - Director Joe Johnston gave us just a glimpse of the film and had Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Capt. America) and Hugo Weaving (Johann Schmidt/The Red Skull) on hand! Other stars to be in the film include Samuel L. Jackson, Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, and Stanley Tucci! I can’t wait to see this film!
Thor - Director Kenneth Branagh brought along a killer trailer with all the right stuff within! Asgard and all the Norse Gods in all their glory, and Thor sent to Earth! Oh man, oh man! In person were Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Natalie Portman (Jane Foster), Kat Dennings (Darcy), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), and Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson). This is the film I’ve been waiting to see for a LONG time!
The Avengers - Set for 2012, Marvel Studio’s Kevin Feige brought us a short teaser and also the stars: Chris Evans (Capt. America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/The Hulk), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), AND Director Joss Whedon, not to mention Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man)!!!
As I had wet myself several times, needed a change of pants, and tears of joy had soaked my cheeks, we left hall H, at Comic-Con, with a high that will last for two years to come! Thanks to Wayne for knowing how the CCI panel system works, and made it work… for us!
P.S. As many of you already know, there was a stabbing, in Hall H (while I was there). It was a sad moment for Comic-Con, which I hope is never repeated. Comic-Con geeks are not usually violent people (unless they are playing video games, that is). To be so near to such a horrific act of anger, simply broke my heart.