Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Review: Thor, in 3D

This is what happens when you have a Wee Girl who cannot be babysat by anyone, and a Great Girl who has only that one evening free to watch her sisters while you and husband go out to Alamo Drafthouse, the go-to place for all Austin parents who only have time for dinner-and-a-movie if they happen at the same time. You look at the listings, decide that Thor in 3D is the least bad offering, and off you go.

First, the 3D-ness. This was my first 3D movie of the new sort, and it was fairly cool at first (though glasses on top of my already necessary glasses isn't entirely comfortable); but after a while I just stopped noticing the effect. It was like when THX came out--remember "The Audience Is Listening"?-- and it sounded so fantastic compared to plain stereo ... for a while ... and now when I mention THX to people younger than me, they generally have no idea that the sound in the theater is anything special, because they're used to it. It took me about twenty minutes to reach THX-in-the-21st-century level with 3D. In fact, I only tended to notice it when it worked badly, as in the cavern-world scene, where foregrounded stalactites and stalagmites formed a flat frame at the front of the stage, very much like a theatrical set.

So. Plot? Caution: spoilers ahoy. Benevolent all-Father god sends his beloved Son to earth as a mere mortal. Son offers up his life to save humanity, upon which he is returned to life by his Father's decree, takes on his divine power, and defeats the very enemy that thought it had vanquished him. It's not a plot I remember from the Eddas and sagas, but perhaps it was in something else.

Now here's the thing that mesmerized me through the entire movie. Except for the CGI scenes set in Asgard and cavern-world, the whole thing was filmed in New Mexico. With, presumably, New Mexican extras. Now since the crew was actually in New Mexico, it cannot have escaped their attention that New Mexico is nearly 50% Hispanic (not to mention 10% Indian). I've spent a lot of time in New Mexico, and it immediately struck me that every single person on the screen was Anglo. Now it was northern New Mexico, which is a little more Anglo than the south, but still heavily Hispanic. Not a single Hispanic face, in the foreground, in the background, anywhere. One scene shows farmers from all around coming to see the thing embedded in the meteorite in the crater: centuries of Hispanic farmers in New Mexico, and yet somehow all the farmers in New Mexico-under-Asgard are Anglo rednecks, played for laughs. One extensive scene is in a hospital. Now medical work in New Mexico, from doctors to orderlies, is very Hispanic (see, for instance, the hospital my Opinionated Self was born in). Somehow Thor manages to be taken to the only hospital in the state with a completely Anglo staff.

What was up with this? Maybe they figured Asgard is going to be populated by Nordic types, reasonably enough, and they don't want to draw anyone's attention to this by providing alternatives on-screen. But then why film it all in New Mexico? Oh and by the way, not a single sign, street sign or advertisement or hospital sign, is in Spanish. Maybe it's not worth going on and on about, but it distracted me through the entire movie, and I still can't figure out the motivation.

So, Thor in 3D. Meh. And, ???

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