Tag Archives: Natalie Portman

Thor: Marvel’s Shakespeare

10 May

How do you bring a Middle English talking Norse God of Thunder to the big screen without upsetting the fan boys, but still making enough money to show that you are a commercially viable company for the long run? You hire Kenneth “call me Hamlet bitch” Branagh.

Those are quotations and really more air-quotes than anything else. But even without the seemingly appropriate nickname Branagh brings a complete range of film making to the table. He’s a classically trained actor/director who not only brought some of Shakespeare’s most notable works to the big screen, but was also in Wild Wild West.

For the basement dwelling nerdfolk Branagh can bring a complex understanding of Thor as a Marvel character and the Norse mythology that inspired him. For everyone else, Branagh understands how to bridge the gap between nerdspeak and the big-guns, big-boobs, big-special effects world of studio made blockbusters.

What we are talking about is Thor, played with a steady confidence by little-known Australian actor Chris Hemsworth. At its core Thor is a story of sibling rivalry and self realization,but on the incredible stage of Asgard and the ethereal plane.

See I’ve already lost you with all rainbow bridge talk. But wait we’ve got Natalie Portman, come on back. That’s right you can still be entertained by the Norse God of Thunder and Mjolnir, his hammer.

I’m loosing you again, wait we’ve got Anthony Hopkins as Odin the King of Asgard. He may not look good with his shirt off, but this guy brings gravitas and credibility to the world Branagh is building.

To stir the plot we’ve got Tom Hiddleston brilliantly as Loki, the mischievous brother of Thor whose mysterious past provides the entirety of the story really. But we’re not going to get into that.

Still not buying it? Ok, we’ve also got plenty of action sequences, sexual tension and guys with their shirts off for the ladies. Not to mention good special effects and a decent amount of comedy.

But the real key to success for Thor is its ability to get you into the world.If you don’t buy the premise, you’ll never get into the characters and spend $11 to see the midnight show of the Avengers.

Sure you can just let it be, and just throw a wink to the camera and say, “buy into this, it’ll be fun.”  But the average person doesn’t like to be told to come along, they like to be led along. The nudge-nudge-wink-wink approach gets you mediocre box office numbers and a life-time of reruns on FX.

But that doesn’t mean you have to explain every last detail,  I call this the “Midi-Chlorian Conundrum” or the “Lucas’ Ruination Effect”.  This is the tendency on the part of filmmakers to make you believe completely, rather than just provide a degree of plausible deny-ability.

I don’t need to know every detail about how Thor’s Hammer is actually the iPad-T1000, just give me something to anchor my understanding. Branagh and the writers at Marvel bridged this gap with a brilliantly simple line of dialogue that has been in every trailer, including the one below.  But I won’t spoil it. Otherwise I’d have to put up stupid flashing lights to tell everyone I was ruining the movie.

It’s a classic Hollywood blockbuster that delivers all the right things. It’s a fun and funny popcorn flick. But to Marvel it is the cornerstone of their world. If you can enjoy this journey down the rabbit hole, then Marvel’s Nerd-A-Motive can steam into the future on the backs of this cash cow and so many others.

Now let me state at this point I’ve used the word “nerd”, and it’s many conjugations,  several times so I think I should say at this point that I ( and I know this is hard for many of my loyal readers to believe) am an Uber-Nerd. Minus the parents basement.

So I use the word not only out of love, but out of ownership…Nerd it’s the other N word.

I wanted to add something at the end there. Just like Marvel always does in their movies to tease you. HINT. HINT. COUGH. STAY AFTER THE CREDITS. COUGH.


Thor Trailer: Superman with a Hammer

29 Jul
Kenneth Branagh is an acclaimed Shakespearean actor so naturally if he was going to be involved in a Superhero movie he would choose the one based on Norse Mythology.
Thor is the first Marvel Studio’s comic book adaptation that is seriously risky. Thor isn’t a witty web-slinger, a billionaire playboy with awesome toys or even a dark superhero struggling with metaphysical questions of truth and justice.  Thor is the hammer wielding God of Thunder, and he speaks like he wrote Beowulf.
This is what I’m talking about on the left there, you’ve got a couple hundred million dollars to make that cool. You can’t use phrases like ‘burst worth’ or words like ‘enchanted’ without being stuffed in a locker. But Thor is a founding member of the Avengers so you kind of have to fit him in somewhere or comic nerds everywhere will revolt in a tanless uprising the likes of which haven’t been seen since they stopped making pocket protectors.
But to balance things out here we’ve got Kenneth Branagh directing a film starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman with Anthony Hopkins. We’ve got Queen Amidala herself with Hannibal Lecter and a very large Australian man who looks like the a Hitler Youth recruiting poster.   Sounds about right for a Scandinavian superhero who spends a good bit of his time fighting in the mythical realm of Asgard, which exists somewhere above earth…sometimes located over Oklahoma. (I kid you not)
Based upon this 5 minute preview from Comic Con I think Marvel has done pretty well.


27 Aug

A great young cast of actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman and Tobey Maguire star in this post-war drama, Directed by Jim Sheridan (Get Rich or Die Try’n) from a script penned by David Benioff (X-Men: Wolverine and The Kite Runner). This may be one of those movies that comes out of now where to grab a few late year award nominations, but either way it looks like an interesting watch.