24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Thor

Critical Mass: 'Thor' swings his hammer and the critics scream

May 6, 2011 |  2:55 pm


Bridges are the key theme of this weekend's "Thor," a film that bridges us from the doldrums of spring releases to the flashier, if not better, world of summer blockbusters. It also serves as another step in the bridge from the first "Iron Man" in 2008 to next summer's superhero all-star jam, "The Avengers." And within the film itself, a superhero actioner about the Norse god of thunder and his adventures in his home of Asgard and on Earth, a rainbow bridge connects the well-regarded Asgard sections of the film with the less successful Earth sections, set in Puente Antiguo, N.M. (which means "Old Bridge").

According to Times critic Kenneth Turan, the film also attempts to bridge director Kenneth Branagh's high-minded Shakespearean intentions with Marvel Entertainment's bottom-line-oriented need to crank out entertainment product. However, Turan doesn't exactly see it as a bridge: "Think of 'Thor' as the ultimate Superhero Smackdown." Surprisingly, he finds no winner. Both titanic forces fight to a draw in his estimation. He writes, " 'Thor' has its strengths, but it is finally something of a mishmash with designs on being more interesting than it manages to be."

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Around Town: Kenneth Branagh, Elizabeth Taylor, Rudolph Valentino and more

May 5, 2011 |  5:00 am


With his latest directorial effort, "Thor," arriving in theaters Friday, Kenneth Branagh is being feted at the American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.

"Resurrecting the Bard: An In Person Tribute to Kenneth Branagh" kicks off Friday with his acclaimed 1993 adaptation of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing," starring Branagh, his ex-wife Emma Thompson, Michael Keaton, Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves, along with his rarely seen 1995 comedy "A Midwinter's Tale," about an actor who decides to stage "Hamlet" with amateurs. Saturday's program features his acclaimed 1989 film "Henry V," for which he earned Oscar nominations for lead actor and director, and the 1991 thriller "Dead Again," in which he stars in as a private detective in L.A. 

Branagh appears in person Sunday at the screening of his all-star 1996 version of "Hamlet," in which he plays the famous Dane.

The Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre presents a tribute to Elizabeth Taylor with a retrospective that opens Thursday evening with two films Taylor made with Montgomery Clift: 1951's "A Place in the Sun," which won numerous Oscars, including best director for George Stevens, and 1959's melodrama "Suddenly, Last Summer," for which Taylor and Katharine Hepburn earned lead actress Oscar nominations. 

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'Thor' trailer promises full brunt of Chris Hemsworth's strength, Marvel's postproduction budget [video]

February 21, 2011 |  5:19 pm

"The battle comes to Earth," the intertitles in the new "Thor" trailer promise, though how enthusiastically Earth will want to watch remains an open question. The marketing spot for Kenneth Branagh's Marvel movie begins with some "Harry and the Hendersons" moments (most of them played with Natalie Portman as the straight woman) as Chris Hemsworth's brutish visitor from another planet adjusts to American customs like drinking out of a mug. Then it gets to the real business at hand: CG monsters threatening a planet that Hemsworth's armor-wearing Thor, cast away from his own planet, will (presumably) come around to save. There are explosions, and plenty of disaster-movie dialogue -- "these people are innocent" and "I have no plans to die today" -- and some more explosions. The movie hits on May 6.


-- Steven Zeitchik




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