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Orkney’s Skull Splitter & Thor

By Odin’s Beard! We’re back, Drinkers!

Sorry folks, I went to a screening of Anchorman last night night, so I’m feeling exclamatory.  But now that The Avengers has been out for some time, I figured this was an appropriately inopportune time to check out Marvel’s Avengers lead-up film Thor and Orkney’s Skull Splitter. So let’s get crackin’.

Let’s start with The God of Thunder. For an superhero action film, very little actually happens in Thor. An angsty, war-mongering and ravishingly handsome god disobeys his dad, gets cast out of Asgard, eats breakfast foods with Natalie Portman, fights a robot and then returns home a reformed hero. I’m actually impressed that they were able to drag it out to a 115 minute film. Part of that is due to director Kenneth Branagh’s (of Much Ado About Nothing fame) sweeping, operatic vision. The visual splendor of Asgard and its clothes ate a decent amount of screen time. And while the movie looks pretty, the acting is pretty stiff. But I guess that’s to be expected when half of your cast are gods from another region of space.

It’s not even fair.

Tom Hiddleston (Loki) does manage to steal every scene he is in by injecting true passion and rage into his character. For me, he was the real highlight of the film, a sentiment echoed by many viewers of The Avengers. And Natalie Portman also manages to stand out as well by simply being a fantastic actress and really good-looking. Unfortunately, they are exceptions to the rule. Our protagonist Thor, played by the inhumanly attractive Chris Hemsworth, manages to undergo a complete character transformation in about five minutes with little explanation. Apparently he and Natalie Portman fall in love but that’s more of a statement of fact rather than the conclusion to a meaningful character dynamic. Also, for no other reason than the studio wanting some explosions, a robot destroys a small town. That’s not even related to acting quality, but I wanted to point it out. Overall, I found this movie to be honestly be quite shallow. What I mean is that the film remains entirely on its surface. The narrative can be condensed into about 15 minutes and all of the actors seem to just be floating through it. When the credits began to roll at the film’s conclusion, I truly found myself wondering what had just happened. I actually thought that there might be more as I never felt that the stakes were particularly high. Not to be an Earth-elitist, but shouldn’t the fate of the planet be on the line? So Loki might have destroyed a nasty ice planet and illegitimately seized control of Asgard, but what does that mean to me? To us as silly mortals?  If you want another opinion on this film, and the other Avengers films, I suggest you head over to We Recycle Movies, where my friend Anne does a great job of breaking down the whole series in a way more befitting our film degrees.

But in an effort to prove that I have actually studied film, I do want to point out the use of canted (Dutch) angles in this film. Those are the shots where everything seems to be leaning to the side. While, at times, they do appropriately reflect the unbalanced scenario of our protagonist, I found the visual trick to be overused and occasionally unnecessary. Okay, I’m done.

Forged in Fire and Plaid, love is born between god and mortal.

And our Skull Splitter? (Yes, I know Thor has a hammer, not an axe, but you get the connection.) This UK brewed, Viking-inspired brew is actually far more subtle than a blow to the head. According to BeerAdvocate, this dark copper beer is classified as a Scotch Ale, meaning that it has a smooth mouthfeel despite its high ABV. And I think I have to agree. At no point did I feel this beer’s 8.5%. Rather, I got a smooth drink with some earthy, fruity malt flavor. I actually didn’t know what to expect from the Skull Splitter. With a name like that, I figured it would be knock me around a bit with big, robust flavor and overpowering booziness, but neither was the case. Instead, I found this beer to be smooth, relaxed and very easy to enjoy. Not sure how common this beer is here in the States, but if you come across it, I’d suggest grabbing a bottle or two.

And so, by the Hammer of Thor, I declare this 47th BAAM review to be complete! We had  fairly shallow movie with a surprisingly deep beer. The movie left me wanting for something more. More character, more action, more explanation; but fortunately this tasty beer helped carry me through the film and made the evening fairly enjoyable.

There’s only two more reviews to go before we hit our 50th. Coincidentally, the 50th review will match up perfectly with our one year anniversary here at beer and a movie. I’ve got some good movies and beers lined up, so stayed tuned. But until then, keep drinking my friends.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Orkney’s Skull Splitter:
Deep copper color
-Surprisingly smooth despite the high ABV
-Nice, layered maltiness

– Surprisingly little happens. Shockingly little
-Impressive set and costume design (kudos, Art Department!)
-Special thanks to Tom Hiddleston & Natalie Portman for making the film somewhat enjoyable

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