Lovefool 05.16.11 | Thunder Road

Between Chris Hemsworth’s form and his character’s gooshy romance with Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, the new Thor movie has our Lovefool’s inner fangirl shouting "For Asgard!"

 

So I went out and saw Thor last week. For once, I managed to see a movie, a superhero movie, while it was still super-culturally relevant and everyone was talking about it. I’m sure this will never happen again but I’m basking in the glow of having achieved it just this one time. I, bucking the trend I watched play out both in an Omaha theater and on the internet, went to see it with another girl because, hello, Chris Hemsworth is ridiculously, ridiculously hot and I didn’t think Mr. Jameson would be willing to eat popcorn lightly sprinkled with drool. My friend, C, and I spent 114 minutes muttering under our breath every time something cool was happening on screen and, to be fair, there was quite a bit of muttering going on. We went, as a Marvel editor’s girlfriend had implored nerdy Twitter ladies everywhere to go, for Absgard!

 
[Okay, nerdlings, I’m going to try to keep this spoiler-free. I may succeed, I may not. But my Fearless Editor might get a little miffed if I don’t take this chance to warn you about the possibility of spoilers. He’s a nice dude like that and I’m the girl who blurts out the punchline halfway through the joke because I’ve gotten mixed up. Anyway, on we go to Absgard!]
 
Yes, I’m not afraid to admit it. I like a pretty dude in a costume just as much as the next girl. Pretty dudes with the perfect, just the right length blonde hair with kind of weird accents, speaking in courtly English and waving mythical weapons around while they prance around sometimes mythical, sometimes American, cities full of figures out of Norse myth? Your Lovefool, being a complete mythology geek as a sideline for all this gooshy stuff, was all. about. it. Let’s face it, myth and romance don’t exactly walk separate paths to begin with and you can hardly expect a Hollywood blockbuster of this magnitude to proceed without a little something for the ladies. And if that something happens to include Natalie Portman, who I’m assured most dudes find reasonably attractive, that’s just multitasking, yeah?
 
So I watched, bemused and completely forgetting about my popcorn, as Thor underwent a transformation from kind of a silly manchild waving his magical hammer around to a seemingly defeated man placidly spending the evening sitting under the stars with a pretty girl talking about the mysteries of the cosmos. But even up on that roof after he’d been rescued from S.H.I.E.L.D and warned well away from town, there wasn’t much that seemed defeated about him. And then he helped evacuate a town before a creepy fire robot thing could come kill everyone in it and totally saved most of the friggin’ day. I won’t lie, I am a girl who loves a good redemptive arc. We went for the sheer fun and, yeah, the eye candy but walked away talking about the sweetness of the story. And, to be fair, I was pretty delighted about that one line Agent Coulson gets in about Tony Stark*.
 
It was a few days later, still slightly dreamy whenever it came up, that I found myself in a bar with Mr. J and another friend of ours while the televisions over the bartender’s head showed the Thor commercial about fifty times.
 
“I saw that,” I chirped over my beer at some point, “It was excellent. I liked it a lot.”
 
“Oh, did you see it?” W asked, slightly bemused at my enthusiasm and slightly glazed over look as Chris Hemsworth took off his shirt again. “Is it boring?”
 
“No! It was actually really great. It was kind of more of a love story.”
 
“Not interested,” W muttered as he shook his head, maybe even rolling his eyes a little. “I think I’m really interested stuff getting blown up. Action shots.”
 
“Well,” I shot back, feeling oddly defensive on behalf of this strangely charming movie, “There’s plenty of that, too.”
 
And there is. Thor is a gorgeous movie, filled with really rad special effects and nods to old-school Marvel fans and really shiny mythological stuff. There are a few spectacular fight scenes that spread out until they’re thinking about becoming epic and the kind of individual heroics that make everyone in a theater sit up just a little more attentively whenever some characters come on screen. There are a few twists and turns and some moments that are pretty fraught with tension and some moments that made me laugh out loud. Thor is, all things considered, a great movie, far better than I expected it to be. It draws from excellent source material, sticking mostly to the original myths, and is well cast and looks spectacular. But would it be just as excellent without the ever-fabulous Natalie Portman as astrophysicist-next-door Jane Foster? Of course not. She’s just as much a tool in Thor’s development as Mjolnir, his mythical hammer.
 
I’m torn between declaring that we needed more Jane and Thor or that the movie is perfectly balanced as is. Portman’s blushing and staring is a fairly convincing reaction to Hemsworth’s, umm, somewhat attractive Thor falling out of the sky and his bemused reactions play off of that perfectly. All those things I said I was into a couple paragraphs ago? Turns out that Jane Foster is, too, maybe. And she’s even able to realize it with the heaping side of weird that it comes with. Portman manages to give a startlingly relaxed performance as a shocked scientist, first about the stranger she actually runs into while investigating an atmospheric phenomenon she’s been tracking and the amazing scientific ramifications of how he got there and then about the crazy world of men in black and hot-but-potentially-crazy-but-maybe-not men claiming they’re Norse gods who seem to need rescuing from secure facilities a lot. Her frank disbelief at her luck both professionally and personally is one of the most consistently funny parts of the film. And, when she finally relaxes enough to spend some time with Thor, she takes him to her lab. And it’s there, on top of a building that looks like it was designed by someone who’d watched a lot of the Jetsons, where Thor tells Jane a little about himself and teaches her some of the science of his world. He sketches around a drawing of the cosmos that she’s done in her notebook, carefully retrieved from the clutches of S.H.I.E.L.D., showing her the Nine Realms and she rethinks things a little. Eventually, she falls asleep carefully tucked under a blanket and, in the morning, they get up and make the rest of her team breakfast. It’s that scene, right there, that sells the romance and allows the movie to move forward to an inevitable conclusion.
 
I hesitate to go any farther into Dr. Foster and Thor’s relationship because I really am trying not to ruin it for anyone out there who hasn’t seen it. Needless to say, it ends in a way that will be achingly familiar to Lovefool readers who have read previous columns on things such as this. But it also leaves me looking forward to the Avengers movie and not, as W accused me, because of “the guy.” It’s also, W, I will have you know, because of the girl. And the stars. | Erin Jameson
 
* I’m wondering when I became such a fangirl, too. I think I need some deprogramming.
 
For a much different take on Thor, check out Film Editor Peter Timmermann’s review here: http://www.playbackstl.com/movie-reviews/10666-thor-paramount-pictures-pg-13

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