14 May 2011

Thoughts On: Thor

Thor is a rain shower, not a thunderstorm. 

Want less-on-point metaphors?  Thor's a meringue, not a pie.  It's a preliminary bout, not the main event.  It's a pilot, not a series.  It's all overture.  It's an exhibition match.

Okay, I'm done.

For the record, I like that last metaphor best: Thor feels like an exhibition match.  Oh, it's a good film.  Kind of.  More accurately: once again Marvel Studios has crafted a film with lots of good things in it, and no really bad things at all.  At the same time, it's clear that Marvel Studios have painted themselves into a corner.  Their conservative approach--stripping their plots to the bare minimum, maintaining a consistent tone in their movies that's never too breezy nor too dense--has one large inherent flaw: people know when you're not giving 100%.

It's very clear now that Marvel is will not be swinging for the fences with each at bat (crap, we're back to metaphor).  Or, indeed, during any at bat, even with The Avengers.  They're clearly looking to amass singles and walks.

It's not unforgivable tactics, but it's going to have an anesthetic effect after a while, and I felt the first stirrings of that effect watching Thor.  Sure, I wouldn't have wanted Thor to adopt The Dark Knight's ridiculous sturm and drang tone, but I wouldn't have minded it aping some of the latter film's size.  Likewise, I'm not wishfully pining for Pirates Of The Carribean-type wanton CGI and production excesses, but a little more and grandiose CGI whiz-bangitude wouldn't have been unwelcome.

(If perchance you read online that Thor is a typical CGI-laden summer flick, discount the idea.  Its CGI is entirely story-driven.  Even during Thor's most tangential points, one could almost feel the presence of the Marvel bean counters, just over the animators' shoulders, saying, "Okay, time to wrap this up, boys.  Pixels are money.")

Um... what was I saying?

I don't buy the idea that their films are increasingly becoming commercials for The Avengers.  First of all, given Marvel's marketing conservatism, I don't think they're betting on The Avengers to be an inordinately huge hit; the idea of a "sure thing" is counter to the more cautious Hollywood wisdom they're evoking.   Instead, I think the "hidden commercials" feeling gets swollen out of proportion only because the Marvel films are so determined to keep their production and story ambitions in check.  We're constantly looking for more, it feels like all we're getting are hints of things to come. And Marvel better watch out, cause this is already feeling like too much teasing.

For my own part, I hope the DVD release comes with lots of the cut scenes I know must be out there.  Then I'll make my own edit, and try to bulk Thor up a bit.


Um, what was I saying?

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