Prepare yourselves for summer, ladies and gentlemen, because Thor is the first out of an entire boatload of superhero movies to come out, and the first in 2011 to tie in with the upcoming mega-tie-in installment The Avengers. And I will say, despite the fact that it does feature a much different kind of superhero (Namely because he is not so much a superhero as he is a Norse god), I was probably the least excited of this one out of all of them coming out, when seeing the trailer, namely because of how generically it was presented. After seeing it, however, I will definitely say it’s certainly one of the more original comic-book films to come out in a while. Is it good, though? Kinda…
Thor is the fourth film made from Marvel’s independent subsidiary “Marvel Studios”. First was Iron Man, then The Incredible Hulk, then Iron Man 2, and now we have Thor, and the next to release is Captain America: The First Avenger. Sure there were other Marvel films, obviously (Spider-Man, Daredevil, Elektra, X-Men, Blade, etc.), but these films are important because they are leading up to the big mega-tie-in movie mentioned earlier.
It’s certainly something no one else has done before and it should be interesting how the aforementioned Avengers ends up being, considering it is being directed by nerd legend Joss Whedon.
But enough about that, let’s talk Thor.
Long, long ago, the Asgardians and the Frost Giants engaged in a brutal war. Years later, the two have decided to not bother each other again so long as no one cocks their little treaty up. That is until, Odin’s (Anthony Hopkins) son Thor (Chris Hemsworth) pops in to wreck their shit up after some Frost Giants were seen snooping in the their relics vault. Because of this, Odin banishes Thor into the realm known as present-day Earth, where he is forced to live as a human. There, he meets the implausibly hot astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her friend Darcy (Kat Dennings) and her mentor Erik (Stellan Skarsgard), who help him associate with this unfamiliar territory.
Meanwhile, Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) takes over the Asgardian throne after Odin suffers from a heart-attack and a coma (How norse gods can have heart-attacks and comas, we will never know). Loki, obviously, ends up cocking up the relationship with the Frost Giants further and threatens to annihilate their entire race. Now, Thor must learn to become a real hero without his god-like powers before he can return to Asgard and save the Frost Giants and his family’s legacy.
Probably the best thing I can say about the film is their bold choice of director. Kenneth Brannagh is an incredibly well-renowned interpreter of Shakespeare, has made films based on Macbeth, Henry V, Hamlet, and the like, and is also a stage-actor to boot. He directs the scenes taking place in Asgard with the operatic energy of a Shakespeare play and considering how crazy the material is, it’s pulled off quite well.
The visuals, despite still looking like obvious CGI, still look really good because of its unique design. Everything is so faithfully adapted from the books, and it all makes for a rather striking art-style is quite unlike anything else you’ll see (Yes, they manage to make the Rainbow bridge look cool).
To me, where the movie falters is the plot, which isn’t bad, it’s just that I never really once cared for Thor’s plight, his relationship with Jane Foster, or most of the action sequences. The actors are all rather good, with special mention to big-budget-newcomer Chris Hemsworth, who will surely become a big name soon enough, the characters are given room to develop, and Brannagh does employ that Shakespearean vibe to the picture. And yet, it never really grabs you until the climax involving Thor and Loki.
The climax actually works because that’s when they decide to employ actual stakes to the action, as the characters are finally given enough room to develop enough to the point that it actually matters whether they live or die. But then it all ends before it transcends to greatness and what you’re left with is an enjoyable, but forgettable superhero film.
One thing I will certainly commend Marvel Studios for is that their movies don’t take themselves too seriously. I actually liked the bits with Thor trying to get himself accustomed to our world much more than any of the other stuff because it was actually rather funny, and it showed growth in the characters. Too many comic book movies today are being shoved into the front gate expected to be gritty and grimy hoping that doing so will receive it with the same universal acclaim as The Dark Knight without any actual effort. So it’s nice to see Kenneth Brannagh actually finding his own style and pace for the genre.
Final Verdict: There isn’t really much for me to say about Thor. It’s well-acted, well-directed, well-presented, and all of that good stuff. Fans of the comics will certainly love it, while I had, at the very least, an enjoyable time. Think of it as a so-so starter for what looks to be a largely so-so summer.
That is all.
See ya next time, now if you’ll excuse me, I’m still anticipating what looks to be the only summer blockbuster worth seeing this year, and that’s Super 8. Can’t get enough of that trailer…