Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thor baptized

I recently saw Thor (2011). (I haven't seen the 2013 sequel–which is reputedly better.) 

Roger Ebert panned it:

By contrast, Brian Godawa liked it:

Ebert later defended his review:

It's like Ebert and Godawa saw two different films, and–in a sense–that's true. That's because they focus on different things in the same film. They bring different interests and priorities to the film. 

In that respect, I can agree with both reviews. Ebert is judging it in more purely cinematic terms, whereas Godawa is more attuned to the ideological aspects. I'll make two observations of my own:

i) Because many Superhero movies cater to the youth culture and the teen/twenty-something demographic, the lead is often played by a boyish twenty-something actor who could pass for a high school student. In that respect, Thor is refreshing. Chris Hemsworth is clearly  a grown man. He has a football player's physique. Like many men with his build, he's comfortable in his own skin. Projects a natural, easy, unforced masculinity–like John Wayne. That's a throwback to what used to be more customary in Hollywood movies. What is normal becomes abnormal in our morally distorted culture.

ii) The Nordic gods are projections of the Viking warrior culture. Scaled up combatants. 

But the character of Thor in the Branagh adaptation is only superficially like a Viking. Rather, he had more in common with a Medieval knight. Thor baptized. That accounts for his chivalric honor code. I don't know if this reflects the Shakespearean background of the director. But, once again, it's nice to see an adventure flick where the male lead acts like a normal, protective, gallant man and the female lead acts like a normal woman.  

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