tobacco Knights presents
Installment 4: Thor
2011 Directed by Kenneth Branagh
I like Thor.
Maybe it’s the mythological aspect, a hero in an epic tale of family, betrayal, and redemption. Maybe it’s that he’s from some other fantastical world altogether, where the magic and science intertwine. Maybe it’s that he’s the one pre-existing figure borrowed from a historical fiction dating back a millennia before any other member of the Avengers was conceived. Maybe it’s because he has a cool dad, and an even cooler mischievous brother. Maybe it’s the hammer.
Maybe it’s that the Norse gods were the coolest of all the Deities & Demigods. (Yes, even more so than the coveted first-edition Cthulhu pantheon… now put your dice away.)
Whatever it is, Thor is definitely my favorite of the Avengers. And this movie is my favorite so far in the MCU series. I think a lot of it has to do with the filmmakers and the actors really doing justice to the central characters and the alternate worlds they come from and travel to. Not that the story itself isn’t pretty good – it is. But I have to say the portrayals of Thor, Loki, Odin, Laufey, and Heimdall and the way Asgard looked was what I found most entertaining. The only consequence to this was perhaps Kenneth Branagh felt this way too. There seemed to be much more attention paid to the screen value of those characters and the mythological realms they come from than those of Natalie Portman and Stellan Skarsgard and their earthly environment. In actuality, it’s probably for simple reasons of editing / time constraints, and not necessarily the intention of Branagh (so as to give an elevated credence to the characters with literary history, which he does have a strong affinity for…). But there does seem to be a noticeable difference in movie quality between the two world and their characters. And I don’t think it was the actors trying to outdo one another, or under-performing, or miscast.
In fact, the casting was really good, and to this I credit Branagh himself for being able to pool together such an accomplished group. Chris Hemsworth is a perfect Thor. He looks and sounds the part, and of course the chics dig him, but I think he pulls off that rare ability in such Hollywood Hunks to actually live up to the looks with actual acting ability and, well, likability. I want to have a tankard of mead with Thor. Not so much with other recent shirt-off ornaments (I’m looking at you meh of steel Henry Cassanova-whatever. And he’s probably looking back, with heat vision. Yeah, well I hope Affleck wins).
I’m convinced Tom Hiddleston can do anything and I’ll like it. We’ve already seen him do F. Scott Fitzgerald in Midnight in Paris and we’re about to see him do Hank Williams in I Saw the Light, and I can’t wait. Little Orphan Annie? He could do it, and I’d pay to see it. If they ever re-make A Clockwork Orange (and I’ll quit movies if they do), tell me who would be a better Alex… Enough said.
Anthony Hopkins of course does a great Odin doing a great Anthony Hopkins doing a great Odin. And Heimdall the all-seeing, all-hearing gatekeeper was probably my favorite character even before I realized he was the all-seeing, all-hearing Stringer Bell.
The One Thing: It’s definitely got something to do with the whole mythological thing, with the greatness of Hemsworth’s Thor and Hiddleston’s Loki leading the charge through Branagh’s awesome looking Asgard and Jotunheim (yeah I had to look that one up). I think this somehow works to transcend what is stereotyped (by me especially) as the “comic book” world, and take it somewhere else a little more appealing to my imagination’s comfort zone. Don’t worry, the whole MCU thing is definitely growing on me, but having Thor there gives some familiarity and sense of nostalgia that really makes it enjoyable. He’s “one of these kids that’s doing his own thing”, and doesn’t have to be all Ironman clever on dialogue and technology to do so. Thor is just cool. Along with all the other Norse gods that I used to read about in my coveted first-edition Deities & Demigods, for which I searched long and hard, and paid good money for…
Just Blowing Smoke: So in keeping with the theme of Thor, I wanted to smoke the new AJ Fernandez Man O’ War Immortal, but I haven’t got my hands on one yet. Hopefully by Thor 2. So I went with the Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur (get it?), and it’s no slouch. This mainstay Honduran brand gets commonly overlooked by most cigar snobs as an unimpressive go-to for amateur smokers new to the game that simply go by name recognition (see also Macanudo), but the Excalibur deserves checking out if a good quality, mild change of pace is what you’re after. Plus it’s pretty easy to find and the price is reasonable. If you like a stronger smoke, Excalibur does come in a maduro, and it has a 92 rating if that means anything to you, but I’ve never had it. After 20 years of cigars, I still prefer the mild to medium, and avoid the maduros and ligeros, unless I plan to sit in one place and not move for the rest of the day.
To read The Nerdling’s review of Thor click here