Tag Archives: Anthony Hopkins

Thor (2011)

All right, it was a short-lived vow. Still, I wouldn’t have broken it for something like Thor if it hadn’t been for the sake of company. Last weekend I went to a movie theater with DA, Jes, Sarah, Marck, Ed and Ryan. I didn’t even want to watch this, but I hadn’t seen these guys in a while and online reviews say it’s pretty good so I thought, why not? Turns out theater-going isn’t so bad after all, as long as you’re seated in time for some trailers and you have a strong bladder. About everything else, you can only hope that other people get there on time as well and don’t stand up too often.

Spanning the three realms of Earth, Asgard, and Yodenheim, Thor offers a cast of immortals: Chris Hemsworth as the god of thunder, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and Anthony Hopkins as Odin. Natalie Portman plays Jane Foster, an astrophysicist Thor meets after his father banishes him to the human world. In Thor’s absence, betrayals and racial conflicts rock his native Asgard, eventually exposing an unexpected opponent he must defeat in order to restore peace.

Superhero movies tend to follow a certain formula, we all know that, and recent mass production has made stereotypes of many characters. But I like the humans in Thor. Erik, Darcy, and Jane are quirky, funny, perhaps even endearing if given enough screen time. The gods, in striking contrast, fall into the easiest stereotypes: wise father, wayward son, loyal friends. Of all of them, Loki’s character has the most potential. He has an interesting background and a complex personality, yet all this is brushed aside in favor of the title character. Unfortunately, Thor is boring, predictable. Everything about him is unconvincing: his early decisions, emotional growth, even his romance with Jane. Then again superheroes are generally like this: maybe the entire franchise just doesn’t appeal to me (except for Iron Man, but we all know Tony Stark doesn’t really have superpowers).

All in all, Thor strikes me as average. I wouldn’t call it a waste of money, but I definitely could have gone without it. The special effects are awesome, and I actually like the ending—minus some cheesy lines between father and son. It’s entertaining enough, if that’s just what you’re looking for, but it’s not something I’d want to see again, or even remember for a long time.

‘For the first time in my life, I have no idea what I’m supposed to do.’

‘I have no plans to die today.’ ‘None do.’

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The Remains of the Day (1993)

Before the 2010 adaptation of Never Let Me Go, there was James Ivory’s The Remains of the Day. Released in 1993, this movie came out four years after Kazuo Ishiguro published the original novel. In the film as in the book, lifelong butler Stevens (Anthony Hopkins) receives a letter from a former housekeeper, Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson), expressing her desire to return to Darlington Hall. In response, Stevens asks for a weekend holiday from his employer and drives out to the country to meet her, twenty years after her resignation. While traveling, he looks back on his decades of service and comes to several realizations about his relationships in life.

Mostly a faithful rendition of the novel, The Remains of the Day fulfills all expectations. It is well-made, honest, and dramatic. Unlike other book-based movies, it does not fail to encompass the plot’s entirety. No essential scene is not dramatized in this adaptation. But precisely because it is complete, the film offers no surprises. Everything happens exactly in the way I had imagined it would, almost to the point of tedium. But of course that can’t be helped; it’s not like I can blame the movie for following the book. Besides, the actors embodied their characters so well it actually added another layer to my understanding of them. I did not expect to be affected by Stevens and Miss Kenton’s relationship since I had already read about it, but my eyes still blurred over during their parting scene towards the end. Compared to this, the actual ending is less poignant and more figurative. I am not sure how to feel about its symbolic quality. At first I thought it was a bit much, but the offhand way in which it was delivered made for an ending that was unflappably casual—not at all forced—and I liked that.

The Remains of the Day distinguishes itself as a good movie adaptation, a rare benchmark others should aspire towards. But honestly I do not feel much of anything towards it. Intellectually, I know that there is nothing wrong with this film, that it possesses all the necessary qualities, but at the same time I also know that I will never love it the way I love the book. But perhaps it’s only a matter of which you encounter first, and for me, as always, it just so happens to be the novel.

‘I don’t believe a man can consider himself fully content until he has done all he can to be of service to his employer.’

‘All I see out in the world is loneliness, and it frightens me.’