Thor (Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital Copy) Blu-Ray + DVD+ Digital Copy – Available September 13, 2011
by Aaron Einhorn
Marvel has had a good year, theatrically speaking. DC may currently be dominating the print comic news, with the launch of their New 52, but in the theatres, Marvel has ruled the roost with both their licensed film (X-Men: First Class) along with both of their in-house properties, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. And while I loved Captain America: The First Avenger, today we’re going to talk about the majesty that is Thor, which is available today on Blu-Ray and DVD.
While I’ve been trying to work my connections, I wasn’t one of the lucky folks to get a review copy of the film from the studio. That just means that I got myself down to the store to be one of the first in line to purchase the Thor (Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital Copy) set. And was it worth the money I paid for it? Read on to find out.
The world has many heroes… but only one is a god. When the arrogant warrior Thor (Chris Hemsworth, Star Trek) is banished to Earth from his homeworld of Asgard, he must fight to reclaim his lost powers. Pursued by an invasion force sent to destroy him, the fallen God of Thunder must rise to the battle and learn what it takes to become a true hero. Natalie Portman (Black Swan) and Anthony Hopkins (Beowulf) also star in the blockbuster adventure.
This isn’t the first time we’ve discussed Thor on this site – and you can read Diane’s review to get her thoughts. But hey, this is my review, so I get to spout off about the film. And I shall.
When I first heard that Kenneth Branagh was the man chosen to direct Thor, I was thrilled. I knew that Branagh’s Shakespearean background and sensibilities would make him perfect for portraying the wonder and majesty of Asgard. The only possible way that you can do the sort of over-the-top action, and act out scenes with the kind of huge emotional stakes that we see the gods of Asgard routinely partake in is by doing it with complete honesty and faithfulness – and that is a trick that Shakespearean actors and directors learned long ago.
I was right. Branagh brings a deft directorial hand to every scene that takes place on Asgard or Jotunheim, and gives us a world where nothing small ever happens. Ever. It is completely believable and enthralling, and the performances of Hemsworth as Thor, Hiddleston as Loki, Hopkins as Odin and Idris Elba as Heimdall come across as completely sincere. It is an enormous world and one that could hold another film or three within it.
The scenes on Earth are a little more problematic. Hemsworth is almost too big to fit into the world occupied by Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, or Stelan Skarsgard’s Dr. Selvig. The only times that Thor feels like he fits in to Earth is during his assault on the S.H.I.E.L.D. temporary headquarters where Mjolnir is being kept. Placed among secret agents and superspies, even the depowered Thor seems to fit, but the more normal world is one that he is an uncomfortable intruder in.
This is partially by design – Thor’s banishment is meant to be both punishment and lesson, after all. But it does mean that the romance between Thor and Jane Foster is a tad on the weak side. One is never completely sure why they fell for each other. But Hemsworth and Portman are both skilled enough actors that you do believe that there are feelings there.
Of course, ultimately, we know that Thor must regain his power, and with the arrival of Sif and the Warriors Three, followed shortly by the Destroyer, we get the epic battle where Thor reclaims his power and his ultimate return to Asgard. The last fight between Thor and Loki suffers in comparison to the battle against the Destroyer, but a fight between Thor and Loki, once it becomes a purely physical confrontation, will always turn in Thor’s favor. The bigger challenge Thor faces is to take the actions which close Earth off from Asgard – at least until we need Thor back in The Avengers.
The film isn’t perfect. There is a lot of story to be told in a very short amount of time, and as a result there are many moments which feel rushed. Balancing Thor the god, Thor the man and Thor the future superhero is a tough act, and it doesn’t always come off smoothly. But Branagh does manage to make it all work mostly, and if some of the plates wobble as he spins them, none of them fall.
Of special note, Hiddleston’s Loki is one of the most sympathetic and interesting villains in a comic book film to date. It is easy to understand Loki’s hurt and to see why he does most of what he does. Thor and Loki are brothers, and Loki’s pain in dealing with both his brother and his father are very real. This doesn’t make him less of a villain, but it does make that villainy far more compelling.
But if Hiddleston’s Loki feels real, Hemsworth’s Thor is astonishing. His transformation from spoiled princeling to hero feels very authentic, despite the very small amount of time he gets to make the transformation, he pulls it off. It is easy to see why Chris Evans described Hemsworth as being a real-life superhero. The sheer presence that Hemsworth has on-screen makes it impossible to not watch him and root for him, and the battle between the fully powered Thor and the Destroyer is epic to behold. The references to the other elements of the Marvel movie-verse also feel far less forced in this film than in most of the others.
Thor isn’t perfect. It may not be the best of the superhero films put out by Marvel. It probably isn’t even my favorite of the five (depending on my mood), but it is a heck of a ride, and well worth seeing again and again.
As you may recall from our review of Iron Man 2, Marvel does not skip out on the bonus features for their deluxe editions of their films on home video. And that remained true with Thor.
You get two discs – the second disc contains the film with no extras in DVD format, as well as the digital copy, suitable for playing on your Android Phone, tablet, or iPhone/iPod. Simple, clean and portable. For the record, a copy of Thor playing on your iPod is a great workout buddy.
Disc 1 contains the film on Blu-Ray, and is also where you find all of the bonus features. There are seven HD featurettes that describe the creation of Thor, including From Asgard to Earth, Our Fearless Leader, Assembling the Troupe, Hammer Time, Creating Laufey, Music of the Gods and A Conversation. From their titles, it’s fairly easy to figure out which feature is about – sets, the director, the cast, the weaponry, the special effects make-up (particularly that of Laufey) and the music. The final featurette features J. Michael Straczynski and Stan Lee visiting the set and seeing their comics come to life. That said, the total running time of just these features is almost as long as the film itself.
Of course, while they say there are seven featurettes, but really there’s more. Because we also get Road to the Avengers, which for all intents and purposes is the first real trailer for The Avengers – although it is so much more. Featuring Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige, it goes in to what it takes to bring Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger into one film. It doesn’t feature any new footage, or even the teaser from the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, but it does show the guys (and Scarlett Johannson) together on the stage at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con.
And it’s impossible to forget Marvel One-Shot: The Counsultant. Featuring Clark Gregg’s Agent Phil Coulson, the short has two SHIELD Agents meet in a diner, discussing what happens when The-Powers-That-Be decide they want Emil Blonsky (the Abomination) to be a part of the Avengers. This short is clever, amusing, and clearly shows us how we get Tony Stark appearing at that bar at the end of The Incredible Hulk. It’s awesome, and I can’t wait to see more of these shorts on future Marvel film home-releases.
There’s more, of course. The disc also contains both the teaser and full theatrical trailer for Thor, along with a trailer for The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Kenneth Branagh also provides a commentary track for the movie, and finally there are 11 – count ‘em 11 – deleted scenes. In every case, it is understandable why they were cut – Thor is pretty much perfect the way it is, and these scenes affect the pacing. Branagh also does a great commentary track for these deleted scenes.
Visually, Thor is just extravagant. Branagh’s skill as a filmmaker really shows in this film, and each different environment is wonderfully detailed and shown in a great light. The transfer to Blu-Ray is just about perfect and watching this movie at home on an HD TV is almost as great as seeing it in the theatres.
Thor had great sound mixing, with sound effects and music both strongly present and adding to the overall experience of the movie, but never drawing so much focus that they take away from the film. Bringing it to the Blu-Ray, you have DTS 7.1 Master Audio for the soundtrack, and if you want it in a different language, French, Spanish and Portugese are available in Dolby 5.1 Digital. There are also subtitles in English, French, Spanish and Portugese.
If there is anywhere that this package falls flat, it is the packaging, which is somewhat subdued. Where I purchased my copy, the slipcover shows the red-background profile poster of Thor, with a copy of Journey In To Mystery #83 on the back. The Blu-Ray case shows a different poster-quality image, with the standard mix of stills on the back cover.
There’s nothing wrong with it, of course. It just isn’t spectacular.
The casting, the costumes, the sets – all of it pays homage to the comics without stealing any one piece directly.
Thor is really two movies in one. There’s an epic mythological story that takes place in Asgard, and a much more human tale that takes place on Earth. And the Earth story is the less interesting of the two. Which gives me some fear for how well Thor will fit into The Avengers.
Some of the CGI work looks a little rushed. Some of the Earth scenes are a little flat. Thor is a great movie, but with just a little more polish, it could have been more or less perfect.
You may be able to tell from the fact that even my negative comments talk about how good the film is that I really liked Thor. And I did. So I can, without any reservations, whole-heartedly recommend grabbing Thor (Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital Copy). Even if you haven’t upgraded to Blu-Ray yet, you want this version. The extras are great, the Digital Copy is nice to have, and you’ll eventually be upgrading anyhow.
You can purchase Thor (Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital Copy) by clicking on the link or you can order through Comic Hero News at our online store. The other versions of the film on DVD or the 3-D Blu-Ray are also available.