Some Summer Movies – Thor & Super 8

Summer is for mindless entertainment?  Not many serious films to select among over the past few weeks of releases, but some decent escapist fare has proved diverting.  A week ago, looking for some cinematic diversion, I found "Thor" was still playing in a handful of theaters in Manhattan and decided to take a look.  Anything that Anthony Hopkins is in is probably worth seeing, I thought.

"Thor" is directed by Kenneth Branagh, but don't expect Shakespeare.  I think the director was doing some dramatic slumming here, as was Hopkins as the pater familias of the ancient clan of Asgaard.  In fact, between the eye-patch and the wig, I almost didn't recognize him until near the end of the film.  Chris Hemsworth is the headstrong, arrogant Thor is decently suited for the rule, and actually seems to be having fun, and his sense of fun and adventure keep the film afloat.  Natalie Portman is fine as his human love-interest during his exile to earth.  Tons of CGI special effects – at times it feels like one is watching a computer simulation of a movie rather than a movie.

I could actually say much the same for "Super 8," which I saw last night.  J.J. Abrams also seems to be doing some summer slumming, as this is nowhere near the accomplishment of his "Star Trek" film, but I certainly had fun watching this.  Joel Courtney as the youngster struggling to cope with the accidental death of his mom and the ineffective parenting style of his dad is affecting, and Riley Griffiths as his chubby friend who is trying to make an amateur film to enter into a teen film-making contest is a hoot.  Elle Fanning practically steals every scene she appears in as the daughter of an offensive hick who ends up starring in the amateur film.  The thing starts off seeming like a typical gang-of-kids-make-a-movie summer film, then turns into a monster flick reliant on lots of CGI effects, but the pacing is good, the performances all decent or better, and the scenes from the little amateur film (hint, don't leave when the film seems to be over, stay for the final credits, because that's when they show you the film that Griffiths and Courtney and Fanning made, and it is a scream) are the highlight of the evening.

Actually, for mindless summer entertainment, these two aren't bad.  Or at least they're entertaining enough….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.