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Scene 9: Jotunheim

The Jotunheim battle scenes are shot with such fast cuts and in such darkness that they are really hard to follow.

I read an interview with Tom Hiddleston in which he talks about him throwing knives. And I had already seen the movie several times, but had never seen him throw any knives. So I watched again, perhaps the 9th or 10th time, and lo and behold I see him throw a knife! It was not until another couple of viewings later, I think when I watched it on frame-by-frame, I realized he’s shown throwing a knife twice! I mentioned the knife-throwing to a friend I later watched it with who was watching it for the first time, and her eyes went wide and she said, “Really?” She hadn’t caught it either. At least I know it wasn’t just me! What Hiddleston said about it in the interview was that after one take he went looking for the knife and he couldn’t find it for a while; it had gotten embedded in one of the fake rocks he had thrown it so hard.

Similarly, I read about Sif‘s double-sided blade before I actually managed to see it. I get that the point is to show that the battle is fast and furious and chaotic…but I’d just really like to be able to see the battle!

In frame-by-frame, BTW, you do catch a lot of nice detail. Loki looks pretty cool throwing his knives, with his hair going a little loose and free and his coat swirling. And finally I could see where those little ice pellets came from that Sif blocked with her shield! (A Frost Giant splashed a puddle at her and froze it.)

My favorite fight bit is a Thor moment. It’s a nice, iconic Thor moment, when he throws his hammer and it smashes a Frost Giant, then the hammer slows and returns straight to his hand. I love the look of it, the way you feel it’s heavy and not some boomerang, and I love the sound effect too.

My second favorite bit is a Loki moment, the “fake Loki” moment, specifically when the camera swings around to reveal the real Loki and he withdraws into hiding again.

I’m curious about Volstagg‘s costume. He had on long sleeves earlier, but when the Frost Giant grabs him for that important moment, he doesn’t have on long sleeves. Hmmm…Maybe his sleeve got ripped off, like Loki’s later kind of disintegrates under the Frost Giant’s grip. In any event, I bet he’s learned a lesson — always wear sturdy long sleeves when going to battle Jotuns!

So the best moment overall, of course, is the Loki’s-arm moment. The FG has a vice grip on Loki’s arm, shatters his armor, Loki looks down in fear, but his arm isn’t being blackened by frost bite, it’s turning Jotun blue before his widening eyes. The FG is staring too, not expecting this, and lifts his eyes to Loki’s. Loki looks back to him, gets over his shock, stabs the FG again, finishing him. Is it just me or are his knives shining, even glowing? Loki looks at his hand as it returns to his normal color — what is he thinking? Does he suspect yet?

Yup, then Loki throws a knife, second time we see him do it. It was only in the viewing for these notes that I caught the second one. Loki with unruly hair, nice!
It’s cool that that monster thing goes upside down, I remember being surprised at that on my 2nd viewing…but…how??? Jotunheim is also not a planet? Does it not have normal gravity? Does it not have, I don’t know, anything solid beneath the ice/ground? Weird. But, okay.

(But…ahhh, maybe it’s a “ringworld”? Check out this article from a Discover Magazine blog by Sean Carroll, a CalTech physicist who provided some scientific consulting for Thor, along with some colleagues. And if you like that one, you might like an earlier one also about Thor. I was glad also to hear a physicist say Asgard basically makes no sense, whew, I thought it was just me. Very much non-physicist. 😉  )

Another moment I love is when Thor swings Mjolnir, then calls lightning, and brings the hammer down, going into that one-knee-down position. It just looks really cool. It’s swinging really fast at his side and he puts it up and it just stops, like instant deceleration. Nice angles, arm straight up. But, I guess he didn’t realize he could have killed all his friends as the ground crumbles around them?
And at last, when Thor turns around from that precipice to see all those approaching FGs, the arrogrant and war-hungry expression fades as he, too, finally realizes, “Uh, okay,this could be a problem…”

(I wrote this on an airplane in Sept. 2012!)

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