Monday, December 31, 2012

Marvel Movie Project #1: Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2 is by far the best movie on this list and maybe one of the best comic book movies of all time.  Spider-Man 2's #1 ranking is predicated upon its ability to do what few other movies on this list have managed to do with much success, completely and accurate replicate the experience of reading a comic book on film.  Spider-man 2 feels like a classic issue of Amazing Spider-Man.  Well, considered how Doc Ock heavy this movie is, maybe an issue of Spectacular Spider-Man, but let's not split weblines...

Because it so perfectly captures the essence of what made classic Spidey comics so great it hits all the right notes at all of the right times.  With the origin story behind us, this sequel is able to put Peter Parker and his alter-ego through there paces without having to clog the lines with lots of exposition.  What exposition we do get is done very smartly through the illustrations in the opening credits (much like was done in the Incredible Hulk). There is a lot of great storytelling that can be done in 128 minutes when the burden of exposition and Spider-Man 2 takes full advantage.  The other smart thing that this movie does is keep it simple.  The first Spider-Man movie tries to cram the origin story and the Green Goblin greatest hits all into one film.  The third Spider-Man movie is a complete disaster because it tries to cram about 10 years of comics into one film.  Spider-Man 2 crams nothing.  It tells a straightforward story with a likeable, relate-able hero and a villain that is complex and compelling.

As a matter of fact, let's start right there with Doctor Otto Octavius.  A constant thorn in Spidey's side in every possible way in the comic books, Doc Ock is really Spider-Man's greatest foe, not the Green Goblin or Venom.  Doc Ock handed the web-head his first defeat, tried to marry his aunt, formed an all-star team out of Spidey's rogues' gallery, and has most recently switched bodies with him in an attempt to kill him.  Doc Ock really is Spider-Man's greatest foe.
Because he has such a long and storied history, capturing the essence of that in a movie can be really tricky. It took 3 movies for X-men to fully develop the complex character of Magneto.  Somehow, though, SM2 nails Octavius on the first try.
When we are introduced to pre-Doc Ock, Otto he is charming and intelligent, if a bit arrogant.  That arrogance will be his downfall, and its counter, his humility, will actually make Otto both the hero and the villain of this tale!  Otto has an upbeat attitude and does not come across like a man who would plot to take over the world.  He is a genius and a mentor to Peter Parker.  In so many ways you find yourself actually rooting for him not to become Doc Ock.
But he does.  And when he does it is tragic because he is clearly a man at odds with himself.  The chip that is implanted to control the arms and keep the arms' AI from influencing his brain wages a powerful war to assert its dominance over Otto's personality.  Eventually it wins and Otto takes a back seat to the cold, murderous arms.  Sure we can nitpick about the nature of the arms' AI or whatever, but as with most of these movies you have to give some allowance for Thunder Gods, frozen soldiers who don't die, and vampires.  The main thing here is that Otto Octavius and Doc Ock are clearly two different characters.  This kind of characterization is very smartly done, very well handled and brilliantly portrayed by Alfred Molina.

I give Otto a few bonus points for having a smoking hot wife as well!
But I thought she was hot back in Star Trek: Insurrection also, so I may be biased...

Sticking with the characters for a moment, our hero and his supporting cast also shine in Spider-Man 2.  Tobey seems to have settled into the role of Peter Parker well and, while not quite the bookworm that comic book PP is, seems much more comfortable.  We get to see a bit more of Peter as a successful student and we also get the ol' Parker luck rearing its ugly head.  This is an excruciating point in the film and one all too familiar to fans of the comic.  Nit-pickers will point out that all Peter had to tell MJ was that he was hit by a car while riding his scooter to the play.  A valid excuse, but I suppose PP was so rattled and so used to making excuses that the truth eluded him.  Regardless, the PP character is better here than it has been or will be.
MJ is still a bit weepy and whiny, but I think that is where Kirsten Dunst was taking the character anyway, less vivacious and saucy and more thoughtful and introspective.  That's ok, it works as it goes, but she can come across as a bit of a mess at times.  Even so, I would rescue her from Doc Ock's nuclear reactor, or whatever.
JJJ is always the star of any Spider-man movie, honestly.  J.K. Simmons really understands the character and nails it once again.  I could seriously watch a whole movie of just Spidey vs. JJJ.  The rest of the supporting cast is great also.  Aunt May is a nice juxtaposition of strength and frailty.  And Harry Osborn walks a fine line balancing his friendship with Peter, his hatred for Spider-Man, his grief over his father's death, and the dangerous cocktail of emotional conflict that creates.  Franco's Harry is better here than it was in Spider-Man where it felt a little unfocused.  The scene with him and the mirror is incredible and sets up an incredible story that the third film fails to realize.

When you have great characters and actors that are comfortable in their roles, a great story almost flows naturally.  At its core, Spider-Man 2 is the story of Doc Ock.  His rise and his fall.  Our hero, Spider-Man is along for the ride, but he's more of an agent in the story and less of the focus and that's just fine.  Spider-man comics have historically been the tale of Peter Parker who gets away from his troubles as Spider-Man.  Not making the web-head the sum focus of this film reveals an understanding of what makes Spider-Man stories great.  We should be watching Peter and Otto as their stories develop, the battle of their alter-egos is just the icing on the cake (and visual manifestation of their inner and external struggles if you want to get deep.

And oh what icing that is.  Spider-Man 2 features some of the absolute best action sequences in a super-hero film ever.  (The Avengers would later match the level of awesomeness of these sequences)  This is one of the first movies to pull the camera back and fully show the action between characters.  The battles on the side of the building and on the train are visually amazing and depict the action just as it might have been, panel-for-panel from the pages of a comic book.  The tendency in films like this is to keep the camera tight on the action.  This is supposed to make the action more intense and also help hide flawed special effects and awkwardly scripted fight scenes (go see Daredevil).  Spider-Man 2 is bold enough to show the entire scene and keep both combatants in the frame.  A risky gamble that pays off here and is very welcome.  Those fights are epic.

Great characters, simple yet moving story, incredible super-hero action sequences, a complex villain and a familiar champion, all of the elements to create an incredible comic book movie, that is the recipe for Spider-Man 2.  It may not tell a sprawling epic tale; it doesn't need to.  Great stories are sometimes the smallest ones.  It is the heart and soul of the story that makes it great.  Spider-Man 2 has a lot of heart and thanks to the brilliant portrayal of Doctor Octopus a richness of soul.  But for me, the bit that pushes Spider-Man 2 to the top of a list of pretty great movies, is that it manages to capture the experience of reading an issue of a Spider-Man comic book (at least from when I was a kid, the modern comics are rubbish).  No other film on this list does that and that means that Spider-Man 2 is something special.  I can watch it any time and be transported back to my childhood, reading the exploits of Spider-Man and Doc Ock again for the first time.  That is why Spider-Man 2 is the #1 movie of the Modern Marvel era.

Marvel Movie Project #1: X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class. The movie that topped the list forever. As a matter of fact, this movie ranked #1 over all until I conceded it to #2 in order to settle another ranking argument--it was my bargaining chip. And because this movie and the other #1 ranker are so close, I was ok with the concession. The difference is by a hair. Seriously. Luckily, we decided at the last minute to make it a tie, so really, what WAS #2, is now sharing its crown in the 1st Place Spot. Where I wanted it to be.

Obviously I think pretty highly of this movie. I saw it 2-3 times in the theater. It was a blockbuster summer for Marvel Movies, with Thor and Captain America rounding things out, but this film was a bit under the radar. I wasn't even really aware it was coming out until right before it did; I knew virtually nothing about it. It made me a bit nervous.

Why nervous? Well, there was a little movie called X-Men Origins: Wolverine. And as we wrote, it was awful. But it turns out, that's not even the movie that I wound up thinking about while writing this review. No, like my obsession with The Incredible Hulk vs. Iron Man, X-Men: First Class goes head-to-head with summer-release-mate Captain America.

You've got two similar concepts--super hero origin stories set in a period backdrop of political conflict (Cuban missile crisis for X-Men: First Class/World War II for Captain America). One executes a flawlessly believable and meticulously detailed early 1960s world stage; the other executes a hokey, half-assed, inattentive quasi-WW2 era backdrop. One is a smooth spy thriller involving a mutant strike team, one is a sloppy summer action movie that fails on most levels.

Since I saw X-Men: First Class before seeing Captain America... you can figure it out. Hell, I saw Super 8 before seeing Captain America, and I think it managed to nail "period piece" more adroitly.

This movie isn't without its faults. It has them. I would have liked a little less convenience surrounding Beast's transformation/romance with Mystique. But it wasn't jarring, and it wasn't a crucial plot point or anything. It moved the plot along, sure, but you could have just as easily conveyed the story without it.

The star of the show is the relationship between Magneto and Professor X. Or, as they are called in this film, Erik and Charles. What's nice here is they let this pivotal relationship be troubled but enduring. By the end, when their philosophies have diverged permanently, you can still see that between the two of them exists some understanding and compassion. There are shades of this in the other X-Men films, but it has been best illustrated here.

I thoroughly enjoy Kevin Bacon's unexpected performance as Sebastian Shaw. He rather steals the show, in fact. I like him as a conniving, behind-the-scenes player orchestrating world politics, rather than resorting to overt terrorism (Liberty Island in X-Men, for example.) It results in a slower-burning, larger-scale conflict interwoven somewhat smartly into existing history, in a way that doesn't piss me off. Sure, it's incredibly unlikely, and I know better, but this is also a world with mutants in it, it closely involves "top secret" style dealings, and they don't do anything remarkably stupid while they are monkeying with history. Scenes are tense and not "oh, how coincidental!" at all.

I enjoy the multilingual nature of the film. It globe-trots with the ease and experience of a Connery Bond film. Michael Fassbender is quickly earning a top slot on my "Celebrity Crushes" list. Not because he's pretty (have you even seen the list?) but because he seems so authentic. Anyone who can charm me as an android, Carl Jung and Magneto deserves special note. The quietly skillful nature of this film is most evident as Fassbender glides between German, French, Spanish, and English as he tracks Shaw across hemispheres. We are also treated to Russian for good measure. I prefer subtitles--unless a film is intended for an English-speaking audience and the vast majority of dialogue would be delivered in another language (for example, The Hunt for Red October). 

Now, if you read my Captain America evisceration, you'll know that design aesthetic is one of my top pet peeves. Nothing tanks a period piece like bad sets, costumes and anachronistic concepts. Luckily, First Class doesn't seem to fall for those traps. I think that's especially clear when we see Cerebro for the first time.

Why does this stand out? After being treated to this gem, it makes all the anachronistic computer displays and TV monitors of Captain America about as welcome as Saruman in Rivendell during the events of The Hobbit.

Cerebro looks like a computer of the early sixties. As a matter of fact, it looks enough like what it's supposed to look like I didn't feel the need to pick it apart. It may not be totally Kosher, but I'm willing to let that slide a little, seeing as how it was invented by a wunderkind with complete access to the resources of the CIA. It's not a modern device with a 60s skin attached. Did I mention that, like with the TV issue on Captain America, I also have fondness for vintage computers?

I appreciate that this film side-steps the urge to call attention to its period trimmings. Since I've already brought it up, Super 8 had a real groaner in it, where we're supposed to look at the WACKY NEW WALKMAN ALL THE KIDS HAVE! IMAGINE HOW BAD IT WOULD BE IF ALL THE KIDS HAD PORTABLE MUSIC!

X-Men: First Class manages to not do this. Look, the early sixties are often a bit overlooked, because the late 60s/early 70s are really, really overpoweringly gaudy and garish. The early 1960s blends the class and civility of 50s design with the beginnings of sleek super mod, and the results are things like Shaw's submarine/yacht, the Hellfire Club, and really swank barware. It's done here just right, in little touches like wallpaper or lamps, or clothing.

Through and through, though, this is truly a wonderful story of team building and friendship. It's exciting, it doesn't need to make you crazy, and it features some nice cameos that almost tie it to the other X-men films...but it easily stands alone. Its faults only run as far as "was that little subplot necessary?" but nothing in the film is so distracting or meaningless that it ruins it. I think this is a tight, sophisticated reinterpretation that is a welcome change of pace from a super-hero slugfest--something not even the previous X-men installments were able to avoid.

I really feel that, of all the wonderful films on our list, this one tops it out. It has the fewest problems and the best attention to detail. It even manages to be smart at the same time, even at the end. Sure, it's an unbelievable story, but 'tis a tale of mutants, after all.

Best part of the film. Hands down!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It's A Smurf's Life: A Review of the Smurf Life app

Do you like tedious schlep work?  Do you enjoy dry, boring repetitious tasks?  Do you have loads of copious free time and just no good way to spend it?  Maybe you've recently been in a boat accident and the fun center in your brain was damaged?

Well, you are in luck!  Beeline, the people who bring you the incredibly enjoyable Smurfs' Village app have bungled up a new game for you play.  Smurf Life puts you in control of your very own smurf, freshly arrived in Smurf Village (not the fun game, this game).  So what's a young smurf who just hit town to do?  Apparently everyone else's schlep work.  Under the guise of pushing back storm clouds from one of Gargamel's nefarious schemes, you are tasked with rescuing trapped smurfs and helping rebuild the village.  That doesn't sound so bad does it?  No.  The basic premise this game is founded upon isn't bad at all, it's the execution that fails.
How do you rescue smurfs?  Go on wild adventures?  Fend off hungry forest animals?  Make daring raids upon Gargamel's house?  Nope.  Try building benches and mixing potions.  Very exciting.  When the game starts, Papa asks you to pick a profession to apprentice under so that you can put your enthusiasm to work.  You may select from Alchemy and Construction.  Construction is considered the Basic starting area and Alchemy the more advanced, but both are exactly the same with different skin so it makes no difference and pretty shortly you'll be doing both so it really makes no difference.  Flip a coin.
Oh, I should mention that when you first start the game, you get to name your smurf and decide how they dress.  This customization should be more interesting, but it's actually pretty mundane and easily forgotten.  See how easily I forgot it in this review.

So anyway, you pick a profession and then go to that area of the village to learn how to do cumulatively repetitive tasks. I'm not kidding.  It's more like work than a game.  Let's take a closer look at the basic game play and you'll see what I mean.  Since both trades are the same, we'll pick Alchemy.  When you first start the tasks are simple:  gather a resource (say stone) and then take it to the alchemy lab and turn it into something basic (say mortar and pestle).  Gathering the resource takes energy of which you have 50 units.  Each resource you gather (stone, wood, sand, aluminum) requires a different amount of energy.  Energy refills slowly over time.  Sometimes a recipe for what you are making requires you to buy something from your trademaster (like say a bucket or some nails).  These items cost coins.  Coins are earned slowly by completing various tasks.  Some specialized items require the use of Moondust.  Moon dust are also the currency that enables you to speed up any aspect of the game or instantly unlock things.  Yep, you guessed it, Moondust are the game's in-app purchase.  For future reference, one dollar buys you 10 Moondust.You can also earn Moondust slowly by leveling up your skills.

After completing a few recipes successfully, you will start getting tasks that require more in-depth recipes.  Sadly, this is also where the game breaks down.  Let's skip ahead to the task my smurf is currently on.  Someone needs an Orange Potion.  To make an Orange Potion, I need water in a bucket, 2 crushed milkweed, and a bottle.  I will need to buy or create all three.  (Un)Fortunately, I have recipes for all of these things because I have been making them over and over for other quests leading up to this one.  We'll get the easy part out of the way first: the water.  I can buy a bucket from Alchemist Smurf for 10 coins, then fill it with water from the well for 1 Energy.  (so far that's 10C, 1 E, and 0 time).  I will keep this tally running throughout this process).  That takes care of 1/3 of the requirements for the Potion.  Not that tough.  Next I need 2 crushed Milkweed.  Crushed Milkweed is made from 1 milkweed cutting and one mortar and pestle and 30 seconds of make time.  (10C, 1 E, 30sec.)  Cutting Milkweed takes 4 Energy. (10C, 5E, 30sec.).  Making a mortar and pestle requires 1 stone and 12 seconds.  (10C, 5E, 42 sec.).  It takes 3 Energy to collect 1 stone (10C, 8E, 42 sec.).  And with that I have 1 crushed milkweed.  Just one. So we have to do all of that over again to make the second one. (10C, 15E, 1min. 22 sec.) Slightly annoying, but nothing too terrible.  But now we have to make the bottle.

To make a bottle I need 2 glass and 5 mins. (10C, 15E, 6.22mins.)  To make one glass, I need 1 bucket of sand, 2 Iron Shavings, and 1 Aluminum Shaving, plus 3 mins. (10C, 15E, 9.22mins.).  Let's tackle the bucket of sand first.  The bucket, again (yes you have to buy a new bucket every time), costs 10C, and collecting sand takes 1 E. (20C, 16E, 9.22mins.)  Next, I need 2 Iron Shavings.  Iron Shavings require 1 Iron and 1 mortar and pestle and 36 sec. (20C, 16E, 9.58mins.).  It takes 10E to collect 1 Iron (20C, 26E, 9.58sec.).  I have to make another mortar and pestle (yes, every time), that means 1 stone (3E) and 12 seconds. (20C, 29E, 10.10mins).  And that's only the FIRST Iron Shaving. I have to make second one. (+13E, 12sec.) (20C, 42E, 10.22mins). 
Ok, so now I have the bucket of sand and 2 iron shavings.  The last thing I need is 1 aluminum shaving, which requires 1 aluminum that takes 6 Energy to collect, and another mortar and pestle which we know very well by now requires 3E and 12 seconds plus another 2 minutes to create.  (20C, 51E, 12.34mins.).  With all of that I have made ONE glass.  Making a bottle takes 2 glass, so double all of that work. (30C, 87E, 18.58mins.)
Now I have the glass to make the bottle.  Once made, I have the bottle, the 2 crushed millkweed and the bucket of water, exactly what I need to make the Orange Potion.  Finally, making the orange potion takes 2 minutes.  That brings our tally to 30 coins, 87 Energy, and 20.58 minutes.  But wait, there's more.  Your energy limit is 50. Energy renews at 1E per 2 minutes.  So the additional 37 energy that we need will require 74 extra minutes to generate the energy I need.

So.  To make the Orange Potion for a single quest it takes 30 coins, 87 Energy, and 94 minutes and 58 seconds.  FOR ONE QUEST.  An hour and a half of game play.  For one quest.  And no part of that was fun.  No part.  But that's ok, now that I have the Orange Potion, I bet I get to do something really cool with it.  That must be the reward for all of this work.  It has to be, right?
Nope.  You take the potion to Alchemist and he gives you 45 coins.  That's it.  A net profit of 15 coins.  No more, no less.  Then you get another quest just like this one to make a shrinking potion, so you get to do it all over again.

Where is the fun?  The game looks amazing.  The village looks really cool.  The graphics are bright and colorful.  But the game play is dull.  Dull, dull, dull.  Oh and hey, what if you want Smurfette to join your village?  Simple, you can rescue her!  All it takes is 5 bottles of Magic Plant Remover!  Surely you can make those at the Alchemy Lab, right?  Nope.  Only Papa Smurf can make this potion and he only wants to sell it for Moondust.  Yep.  Real money. $4 worth of real money just to unlock Smurfette.  And she's not the only Smurf like this, nor is this a novel situation.  Seems plant remover is a common necessity in this village and will be required to unlock many new areas.  Beeline has always had a more intense focus on the profit margins of these games, but this is pretty much just shameless.  They want your money and they want you to keep it coming, but they haven't created a game that is fun enough to warrant spending a dime.  I have accumulated 44 Moondust for free and I have no intention of spending them on anything unless I absolutely have to. Which probably won't happen as I don't plan on playing this game much longer.

If there is any fun to be found in Smurf Life it is far too well hidden for me to find.  Far as I can tell this game is a bunch of busy work with little to no reward for the effort.  Tasks are repetitive and cumulative.  In making one Orange Potion I had to make 8 mortar and pestle.  When is that fun?  It's not, it is just redundant.  I love the Smurfs and I love Smurfs' Village, but Smurf Life is a complete flop from my perspective.  The game looks amazing, but the game play is dry white toast.  There isn't even a social aspect to distract yourself with.  One would assume that would be a staple in a game like this.

Oh well.  Nice try Beeline, but I'll pass.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Marvel Movie Project #3: Thor

Seriously?  A Thor movie?  How in the world are you going to make a Thor movie and make it watchable?  How are you going to make a Thor movie that a general audience can understand?  Characters like Spider-man, the Hulk, even the Punisher are relatable on some basic level.  How are you going to get a general audience to buy into and relate to a misplaced Norse thunder god?  As Dale Gribble once said, " I'm skeptical that you could, yet intrigued that you may."

Wing-o, man, I'm in an article.
The answer to all of these questions and more can be found in Paramount Pictures 2011 film, Thor.  Seriously.  Thor ranks highly on this list because it does what shouldn't be possible.  It perfectly creates the world of Asgard, a realm of gods, and then perfectly blends and juxtaposes that world with Earth.  The contrast between the two settings is so complete that it works brilliantly.  When Thor is doing his thing in Asgard he feels like he belongs and everything in that world, Frost Giants, mystic hammers, gilded halls make sense within the given context.  Thus, when Thor is cast to Earth, he looks and feels like a man out of time (way better than Captain America ever did).  A lot of this is due to the solid performance of Chris Hemsworth.  Hemsworth takes what would be an extremely awkward script in most other actors hands and manages to make it flow as naturally as possible.  It's not easy playing awkward with awkward material and making it seem skillful.  Hemsworth is surprisingly adept in his role as the thunder god.  Honestly, all of the actors playing Norse deities do a spectacular job of bringing the classic comic pantheon to life.  Sif, Volstagg, Hogun, and Fandral are all compelling and fun in their supporting roles and they make you want to spend more screen time with them.  Heimdall is the real badass, though.  Idris Elba flat out kills the role and fleshes out a character that really has little more to do than open and close the door on the kingdom.  His showdown with Loki might be one of the most intense moments in the film. 
Speaking of Loki, who is Tom Hiddleston?  I don't know, but I can tell you this, he takes a character that would be easy to play to type and works him in such subtle ways it's almost a shame he turns out to be the villain.  His character is almost as compelling as Jeff Bridges' Obediah Stane in terms of nuance.

No, it's because I'm so in love with you.
The earth-based cast isn't quite as tight, but still manages to keep the story going.  Natalie Portman is grossly over cast as Dr. Jane Foster. The character simply isn't given enough to do to justify someone of Portman's abilities.  Heck, that full-lipped brunette from Two Broke Girls could have probably played the role just fine.  That said, Portman's romance with Hemsworth is far more believable than the torturous love scenes between her and Hayden "haven't had a relevant acting job since" Christensen.  Shudder.
The character to watch on Terra Firma is Erik Selvig.  Who knew this throw-away scientist would be such an important part of the Avengers? Skarsgard's performance is fine for what it is, but more importantly it sets him up nicely as the big player in the Avengers movie.
Honestly, I found the Earth level stuff the hardest to enjoy, but that may have more to do with the fact that most of that adventure is Thor without his hammer.  By the time the Destroyer shows up, it is ON.  The Destroyer battle is reason enough to watch this movie.

As I said early, Thor ranks #3 on this list because it perhaps best learns the hard lessons of the early films like Punisher, Spider-man, and Fantastic Four.  It then takes those lessons and applies them to a truly challenging subject matter and creates a super-hero movie that is pure fun, not just for comic book junkies like me, but for the general audience as well.  Thor is #3 primarily due to the fact that it manages to avoid so many of the easy Hollywood traps that plague what-would-have-been better movies on this list like Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk.  Case in point, had Thor followed those films, it would have ended with a big battle between Thor and a transformed Loki who had fully embraced his frost giant heritage and become giant and blue, covered in ice.  This showdown would have wrecked either Asgard, Earth, or both and the final blow would have taken the last erg of Thor's strength.  Thankfully, this movie is smarter than that, and instead we get the intelligent ending we should have gotten in those other films.

Big Hollywood Ending.  art by Stan
Thor is a lot of fun, it has great reverence for its source material, but it is not confined to it.  Solid performances by a powerful cast create two very distinct and believable worlds that successfully coexist.  Thor succeeds on all levels.

Aimee's Take:

I think Thor is a perfectly awesome film. It hits all the right notes and does all the right things. I'm not even annoyed by the Earth-bound love interest subplot, because it's pretty minimal. Thor never really does make it seem like he's all gaga for her. I honestly think Thor just feels bad about getting all her lab stuff confiscated/wrecked up, and as a plus she's pretty. They have a few moments together. He wants to visit her again but he doesn't make a big deal out of it. It's not like they have hot, steamy Norse god sex in the desert. Seems pretty benign, actually. I viewed it more as Thor was struck by her as a representative of what Midgard has to offer, and gave him someone to typify his connection with the people.

But honestly, Stan is right. You want him to have Mjolnir the entire time. I could have spent the whole movie in Asgard with Thor having various adventures, no need for Earth at all. 

I went into this liking Thor already but I really wasn't prepared for the character to be this much fun on film. I had a blast with it, enjoying all parts pretty evenly and equally. While it might not have the overall appeal of say, Iron Man, it makes up for it in terms of being incredibly solid and thoroughly fun. The subject matter never gets too hard nor does it hit close to home, but at its heart it manages to make a great story.

Loki is a surprise for me, but a pleasant one. I am glad they managed to keep him a trickster. It would have been easy resort to the big Hollywood thing, as chronicled by Stan, above. I managed to avoid being off-put or distracted by his ridiculous hat, also.

And now, the only review necessary: I have a huge celebrity crush on Chris Hemsworth. It started with Star Trek and continues despite Snow White and the Huntsman. Did this movie have to be good for me like it? No. Is it good anyway? Absolutely.

And before you give me a lot of crap over it, remember--this is possibly the first conventional celebrity crush I've had (outside of c. 1980 Harrison Ford). Highlights include:

    Craig T. Nelson, before the Coach era

John Astin as Gomez, second only to crush on Caroline Jones
Dick York. You're lying if you don't think he's weird-looking.
Younger but still old Tom Skerritt

Bruce Boxleitner. Every era, including today, which is scary, because I'm only 28.