Thor

The new breed of Marvel comics movies represent something of a banker for the film goes and Kenneth Brannagh‘s Thor (2011) is no exception delivering – as Jon Favreau‘s two Iron Man (2008, 2010) movies did. A compression if fifty years of comic books, a good deal of scrapping and a spirit of broadly drawn character which engages hardcore fan and rookie watcher alike.

A winning formula then and one which contrasts sharply with the tedium if Bryan Singer‘s 2006 film Superman Return in which the blue boy scout does not throw a punch and emotes over his daddy issues for over two hours. Hardly the stuff of Action Comics.

Brannagh’s take on the Norse God is a loving, faithful adaptation of the source material which both acknowledges and refreshes the character and in that way recalls Beat Takeshi Kitano‘s 2003 Zatoichi in which Japanese staple of the blind masseuse who shows a natty turn at sword play is pulled from years if cliche and presented as vital, important and exciting.

Takeshi pays homage to Akira Kurosawa‘s 1954 masterpiece Seven Samurai by lashing fights with rain and throwing in humble villagers a plenty. Kurosawa is a rich source for the refresh and reinterpreting director.

Most obviously The Magnificent Seven (John Sturges, 1960) but perhaps best seen in the crashing together if Elmore Leonard‘s Rum Punch and Kurosawa‘s Rashomon into Jackie Brown.

Director Quentin Tarantino in the years before his style became his cliche creates a tense story of muddy motivations and shades of grey. Each participant might recall their version of events as true, and often reflecting them in a better light than it should, but none are entirely accurate.

Tarantino delivers a movie of depth and detail, his best work in my opinion, which sees cross and double cross and ends up with Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson in a van with a bag of used books where they expected crisp notes trying to work out what just happened. The slow push to Jackson and soft revelation of a whispered “Jackie Brown” is screen perfection.

Jackson has a cameo in Thor and a hand in all the Marvel climatic universe movies as Nick Fury. Fury pops up to tease about the forthcoming The Avengers (Joss Whedon, 2012) movie and people get excited.

With good reason. Blockbuster movies should be like Thor, and as a result of its success probably will be for many years to come.

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