- Gods are so godlike and clean that they don’t change their clothes, except when conning someone. Even when they are just standing around, nothing to do, they are in FULL ARMOR! They must not have sweat glands.
- Norse Gods keep pretty good tabs on Earth, since they know that English is the most used language and speak it flawlessly.
- George Lucas created Asgard.
It is a good thing Thor didn’t land somewhere like New York in this day and age. He would have been deluged with all kinds of good ‘hammer’ jokes!
This review is the first part of my Epic Road to the Avengers Trilogy which will feature Thor, Green Lantern, and Captain America: The First Avenger. And yes, I fully realize that Green Lantern is from the ‘other company’ and has nothing to do with the Marvel films. It came out not long after Thor and serves as a good comparison. Before I continue, I do want to say that I am an old-school comic book nerd, so I knew a lot about these characters and stories before I saw the movie. Nuff’ Said!
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the Norse god of thunder, son of Odin in Asgard, and honestly few would know any of this without the Thor comic books. Thor is set to take over ruling Asgard from daddy, but he does something expressly forbidden out of arrogance and, both as a punishment and hopefully a lesson, he is banished to Earth with his great power taken away. However, not all is as it seems on Asgard, as someone there is manipulating events for their own nefarious purposes (Mwa Ha Ha!).
I’ve read some other reviews for Thor and I understand that there are quite a few folks that say it is too slow, not enough action going on. You know, I’m older and some of my favorite movies, considered classics, build very slowly. A slower film can be great as long as there is a payoff for the build. In Thor, I thought this was done brilliantly. There is a big action sequence at the beginning, smaller one in the middle, and then BOOM at the end. And in between, we get several characters, including our hero, painted as more than one dimensional cypers. I liked how the slower parts built the characters, and when I saw this in theaters and Thor reclaimed his abilities, I was pretty hyped and anticipating the battle that was coming. That didn’t disappoint either.
In my opinion, Thor was done about as right as you could for a ‘godling’ on Earth and powerless. I mean, it sounds like a plot for a bad comedy, probably starring Jack Black. And I loved how the story plays out with the eventual nemesis. With powerful characters, it is so tempting to have a villain so big, a threat so massive, that it really tests the hero’s powers. Here, however, there is definitely a threat, but Thor does not save the Earth, Asgard is not under threat of destruction (well, not immediate destruction), and much of the conflict is of a more personal level. I thought that was a great path to take for the filmmakers. A sequel can be taken anywhere, really. They don’t have to try and ‘top’ this one, because they didn’t make the threat so huge that it would be impossible to top. I always thought they did that in the original Superman franchise. After the three Kryptonian villains in Superman II, they couldn’t really top that without spending huge gobs of money and creating an even bigger threat. Since they didn’t have that kind of budget, we got Richard Pryor. Thor is NOT facing that kind of situation yet, although I have to admit, summer blockbuster sequels do not tend to lose funding the way they used to.
The acting in Thor isn’t Oscar worthy, but it is pretty good compared to many hero films. Natalie Portman is not really challenged as Thor’s love interest, but she does a good job in the role. Tom Hiddleston is Loki, Thor’s brother, and he plays a wonderfully subtle character until the end of the film. Even some of the secondary characters have good lines and decent acting ability, and that brings the whole to a higher level. And, of course, the special effects are fantastic! When the action if focused in Asgard, it is hard not to just stare at some of the backgrounds (which another viewing on dvd is really good for!). The film has funny moments but doesn’t get bogged down with comedy, and no one character does all of the jokes to the crowd’s displeasure (yes, I mean you Jar Jar). Thor may not be the equal of Iron Man or The Dark Knight, but it is better than many, many of the super hero films I’ve seen.
The biggest downfall for me was just the timing of everything. They don’t expressly state that the film happens in just a couple of days, but it does not feel much time passes, either. There is nothing to denote seasons passing or anything. With that Thor is supposed to learn a lesson in arrogance AND he supposedly falls in love with a ‘mortal’, I want to see/feel that months have passed. The way the film shows it, it could have been just a week or so. Some of the accents in Asgard are funny, too. I mean, shouldn’t they all speak the same basic dialect? Do the Asgardians go to Earth regularly to learn new accents? And, do they learn a different language just to speak English with that accent? What in the world is an Asian doing in the Warriors Three? I didn’t know the Norsemen were THAT well- traveled. Also, I think Anthony Hopkins as Thor’s dad Odin is a bit misused here. He is good, make no mistake, but he is not used much in the film as Odin is in a coma for most of the film, a role Hopkins could play in his sleep (Boooo! Sorry about that one, folks!) But honestly, those are the worse things I caught on to, and that isn’t bad at all.
Now, I expect this to not be a spoiler at all as I discuss the build towards next year. As fans of these films know, we will be seeing The Mighty Avengers super hero team in film form, with Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man all played by the same actors as their respective films (The Hulk will be there, too, but different actor). Add a handful of side characters and Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury, and you have a lot of comic book and recent hero movie fans waiting impatiently to see how it works. And we’ve seen this in the recent films. In The Incredible Hulk, Tony Stark (Iron Man) speaks to General Ross at the very end of the movie. In Iron Man 2, we see Captain America’s shield prominently displayed on the wall of Stark’s laboratory. Here in Thor, not only do we hear another mention of ‘The Avenger Initiative’, we also have one of the film’s characters brought in by a research group to study what appears to be a power source from Asgard. The Earthly backstory of this device is prominent in Captain America, The First Avenger. For those of us who like this sort of thing, it has been a fun ride. As I recall, DC comics had this idea first with their Justice League, but they have had many problems getting their character’s films off the ground. Both Wonder Woman and The Flash have been in development for years. DC has not been able to capitalize on the huge success of the recent Batman films. Marvel, on the other hand, have crafted the sub-plot in a way that has never been done (DC did something similar with their animated tv shows in the nineties, though) in a film franchise. It has been really fun for me to watch these movies knowing they are in a shared universe and the possibilities that this creates. They did have several instances and a couple mini-series in the comics where the Avengers and the X-Men met and sometimes fought. Can you imagine THAT really happening in digital media? It could! Heh heh heh.
As far as Thor itself, about the only thing I feel that could have made it better is fixing that time thing. Otherwise, I’ve enjoyed Thor both times I watched it and will watch it a few more times along the way, particularly when The Avengers film is about to come out.
[xrr label="I give Thor" rating="5/5"]
Though if you just don’t like hero movies, you probably still won’t appreciate this one. It is still one of the better films of the genre out there!