Friday, November 8, 2013

Fun with Thunder

Chris Hemsworth as Earth's defender, the mighty Thor

Brad Kupiec, Mary Maddox and I just attended “Thor: The Dark World,” running into Sean Copeland and Bryce Ricketts there. Marvel movies draw my friends like iron filings to an Asgardian lodestone.
And this latest is great fun, dancing to the same snappy blend of action, melodrama, heart and humor that made “The Avengers” a winner, although it doesn't share the latter's perfect pace.
The metaphysical mumbo-jumbo is considerable, but never gets in the way of the audience’s enjoyment for long. And when you have to talk about metaphysical mumbo-jumbo, you're better off to get Sir Anthony Hopkins to do it for you in his redoubtable, undoubtable voice.
A dimension-hopping climactic superhero battle is just about everything a comic book fan could want, but it’s the humanity of the superhumans that carries the day, thanks to actors well-rehearsed in these roles after three films.
Particularly to be relished is Anthony Hopkins’ effortless gravitas as Odin the All-Father and Tom Hiddleston’s wonderful, seductive, layered performance as Loki, the trickster god. Watch how Hiddleston’s face shifts and shades from grinning evil to a flicker of lost-boy vulnerability, his eyes hinting at a child who has angrily pushed away the arms he longs to have hold and protect him.
Often unsung but perhaps best of all is Chris Hemsworth as mighty Thor, saddled with the thankless task of portraying an utterly noble champion. If his hammer strikes sparks of humor from the situation, that’s only because of the deft juxaposition of gods and bemused 21st century mortals, and never at the character’s expense. Think how easily such a role can slip into thundering self-parody, and you’ll savor how well Hemsworth, with his matter-of-fact valor, pulls it off and pulls the film together.