Monday, May 09, 2011

THOR: Advanced Review - 9 Stars

There are no spoilers in this review, but you are free to discuss anything you wish about the movie in the comments section below.

Click on the images to enlarge.

THOR rivals IRON MAN and SPIDER-MAN for the best Marvel property production yet and handles 3D conversion with godlike prowess! NINE STARS.

Jumping off from THE GREEN HORNET which had amazing 3D conversion visuals as well (see that review here), THOR manages to improve upon that already highly set bar. The 3D was scaled back nicely so that we were no longer seeing actor's noses sticking out at the audience and there are absolutely no headaches whatsoever from viewing this movie. Very enjoyable.

Note that the up close narrative shots had barely any 3D effect at all - PERFECT!! THANK YOU. It allowed time for the audience to rest between the intense battle scenes and was a perfect balance.

However, there were issues. There are several scenes (not many mind you) that beckoned for deeper 3D (conversion company's fault mainly unless the studio pushed for a more flat look). Some scenes that could have been better shot with stereoscopic 3D in mind (like keeping the camera closer to the ground to accentuate depth (production's fault). Really though, this is nitpicking and the conversion was well done. Kudos to Stereo D for the excellent work! I want to see more of this effort on future conversions! And Kudos to Kenneth Branagh (Director) and Haris Zambarloukos (DP) for a tremendously well thought out and shot 3D conversion!!

I saw the CAPTAIN AMERICA trailer in 3D pre-rolling in front of THOR (sadly CONAN was in 2D here). CAPTAIN AMERICA looks like it too will enjoy a superlative conversion! Something I find strange though and I am not sure why others have not figured this out, but in the trailer Chris Evans is looking at a poster with his face's reflection in the glass - the poster contents -within itself- are shown with depth! This is a big no-no. There were no 3D posters for army recruitment back then! It should be a flat image. Either someone was lazy and hasn't gone over the conversion, or it was a bad call to include that in the scene list for conversion. I hope it is fixed for the actual movie's release - quite distracting for me.

Let's breakdown the aspects of my review:

Stereoscopic 3D (9 stars):
Perfect 3D for 94% of this movie!!! I cannot say this enough. Practically indistinguishable from native 3D in many scenes. Conversion has come a long way and THOR is the best of the best so far.

Story (8 stars):
I was disappointed in several areas, particularly Loki. I felt Loki's development was rich, but unexplained. Sure he is full of mischief, but he should still HAVE A PURPOSE in mind that the audience should grow to understand. I still don't know what he wants, even after the movie was over and have time to think about it. Worse, I wasn't motivated to think about it from the movie itself - I forced myself to consider what Loki really wants to achieve. So much opportunity with that character and I though much of it was lost.

Conversely I felt that Thor and Odin's characters developed nicely. I simply loved the scene where Thor enter's Odin's great hall with all the magnetism that he truly should have to the cheers of the audience (not a spoiler - its in the trailer). Then as the movie progresses Thor evolves quite satisfactorily indeed. Love it. Odin's character is slightly less achieved at the end, but still very enjoyable to watch.

Loved the comedic relief that was built into the story!! Hemsworth getting hit a second time by the truck and just turning his head in time to see it happening... PRICELESS.

Acting (9 stars):
Chris Hemsworth (Thor) was PERFECTLY cast. As was Anthony Hopkins (Odin) and Tom Hiddleston (Loki). Special mention goes to Rene Russo as Frigga because she has been conspicuously absent from Hollywood since 2005 and I missed seeing her in the movies. So glad she is back. Her feminine air of royalty was sorely needed in the movie and was perfectly delivered.

Hemsworth carries this movie with such ease. His personality shines through all the scenes and he is clearly destined to A list vehicles from now on. Think a mash up between Vin Diesel and Brad Pitt.

Hopkins delivered a very hard role in Odin - there would only be a handful of actors that could tackle it and pull it off, and in seemingly true Marvel casting fashion - the studio pulled it off too.

Hiddleston is a fresh enough face that audiences wouldn't quite know what to do with him as far as figuring out what Loki has designs on. Unfortunately much of Hiddleston's acting prowess was wasted on a development that in the end did not deliver the full goods.

Character Development (9 stars):
Exceptional. Diverse. Rich background stories that are typical of a tried and true comic book franchise. A beautiful thing to behold. As I have said earlier, THOR would have had higher marks if I could figure out Loki. At least let me know what his aspirations are - or why they change.

Suspension of Disbelief (10 stars):
Rounded up from 9.5 stars - not perfect but darn close. THOR manages to take audiences on a ride that in the end succeeds in letting us believe that the Norse Gods are alive and doing quite well in the modern world. NOT an easy task. Branagh pulls it off. Bloody nice job chap.

Directing (9 stars):
Again, suspension of disbelief carries a lot of weight for this rating too. Branagh has the chops to deliver (although has a knack for disappointing results sometimes) so I was looking forward to THOR a great deal just from the creative and delivery point of view alone. Branagh's ability to harvest masterful performances from his principals as well as tying in story and making sure we still BELIEVE in everything we see was Shakespeare in action.

Sound / Score (8 stars):
Unremarkable really. I don't remember much about this element at all which means it was nicely delivered but not exceptional. Certainly not poorly done either as I would have captured that.

Cinematography (9 stars):
Averaged up from 8.5 stars. Again, not much to remark about. The movie was solidly captured but some scenes needed to be thought out a bit more for stereoscopic 3D. Not much to complain about at all though. Much of the movie was CG so cinematography has a different impact there. Take Asgard for example.

Special Effects / Stunts (9 stars):
Nothing to complain about! I was invested in the movie from the opening scenes. Nicely done. I believe Digital Domain did the lions share of the work.

Continued work in 3D conversions is truly paying off folks. If the money is spent, the time is allotted and the right personnel are in place, you can almost count on a great conversion now. At least from Stereo D. We'll stay on this of course and keep you updated as to what new conversion technologies are brewing and how it is being delivered.

Are 3D conversions on par with native 3D yet? Too early to say. We need to have a constant stream of perfectly produced content first. And a gold standard 3D conversion company stand up and be counted. Is Stereo D the one? Perhaps! We shall see...

So what are you waiting for?? Go see this movie in the theater, in stereoscopic 3D - the way it is meant to be seen! The big screen is truly home for this movie. THOR flies high!!

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Jim Dorey
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