Reviewed by: Daniel Thompson
|Featuring:||Chris Hemsworth … Thor
Natalie Portman … Jane Foster
Tom Hiddleston … Loki
Anthony Hopkins … Odin
Stellan Skarsgård … Erik Selvig
Kat Dennings … Darcy Lewis
Clark Gregg … Agent Coulson
Idris Elba … Heimdall
Colm Feore … King Laufey
Ray Stevenson … Volstagg
Tadanobu Asano … Hogun
Josh Dallas … Fandral
Jaimie Alexander … Sif
Rene Russo … Frigga
Samuel L. Jackson … Nick Fury (uncredited)
Stan Lee … executive producer
|Distributor:||Paramount Pictures / Marvel Studios|
“Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of…”
The phrase “second rate” is usually used to describe something that is not very good, but that’s actually incorrect. In reality, we’ve all enjoyed a minor league baseball game or a frozen dinner, right? In fact, without the experience of a major league game or a freshly prepared five course meal, one would consider those things to be supreme. The point is, when you’ve had excellent, sometimes good seems like a letdown. Such is the case with “Thor”, the latest installment from Marvel comics. While a technical wonder, the rest of “Thor” is entertaining, but does not live up to many of its Marvel predecessors.
The film takes place simultaneously on planet Earth as well as the realm of Asgard, home of King Odin and his son Thor, the god of thunder. It is explained at the beginning of the film that there was a time long ago when humans believed in these gods, and they inhabited Earth. The time has since past, and Odin is preparing Thor to take over as king of Asgard, while also protecting the world from the Frost Giants of Jotunheim.
Thor disobeys his father, and is banished to Earth to live powerless among the humans, while Thor’s brother Loki takes over the throne. While Thor is away, Loki proves to be less than trustworthy, leaving both Asgard and Earth in danger. While on Earth, Thor meets a physicist named Jane, who realizes she has just discovered life other than that on Earth. Along with her two friends Darcy and Dr. Erik Selvig, Jane tries to help Thor find his power and get back to his realm.
While there are problems, “Thor” was clearly made with a steady technical hand. The effects on display are anything but second rate. The creators of the film clearly took great care in crafting the worlds of Asgard and Jotunheim. Even though these worlds are clearly digital, the attention to detail and costume design keeps the viewer entranced. Filmed in eye-popping 3D, the action sequences that take place in Asgard, Jotunheim, and Earth all dazzle.
Unfortunately, the rest of “Thor” does not live up to the stunning visuals. The script is poorly written, and the film is not paced correctly. As the viewer watches the story shift back and forth from one world to another, he or she is not left wanting more, but instead feeling shortchanged. The time the movie spends on Earth feels like a waste, and mostly inconsequential. The viewer is, also, supposed to believe that a strong romantic connection is made between the two leads with only about 20 minutes of screen time together.
There are a few genuinely funny moments in the film, especially the requisite cameo by Stan Lee.
As a whole, the acting is average, even though the cast features some talented actors. Virtually unknown actor Chris Hemsworth does a serviceable job in the title role of Thor. Fresh off her Oscar® win, Natalie Portman does what she can with the role of Jane. Unfortunately, there is only so much that can be done with so little screen time, a forced romance, and fake physics jargon. Kat Dennings plays Darcy and is mainly along for comic relief, so it really is a shame when the script doesn’t give her anything humorous to say. Sir Anthony Hopkins effectively plays Thor’s father Odin. Hopkins clearly knows he’s dealing with camp and delivers his lines accordingly. Tom Hiddleston gets the most out of his character as Thor’s shady brother Loki.
The story of “Thor” is, also, quite different from most Marvel comics. This is mainly because the protagonist is an immortal god, and, aside from his time on Earth, is almost undefeatable. While this provides some great action, it also is the reason for the lack of requisite heart that make some Marvel movies go from good to great. It’s the humanity, the struggle of Peter Parker, Tony Stark, and Bruce Banner that make their superheroes so accessible. While it’s easy to root for the good guy, when that good guy is struggling with lost love, narcissism, or identity, there is a much stronger resonance.
From a content perspective, “Thor” continues the tradition of Marvel movies by having very little content issues. The film earns its PG-13 rating with intense battle scenes that include some vicious monsters. The battles are almost completely bloodless and, also, not realistic, considering that most of them take place in the fictional realm of Asgard. The movie contains a few mild profanities and several instances of God’s name taken in vain. Aside from a shirtless Thor, there is nothing to speak of in the category of sexual content, dialogue, or situations. Also mentionable is the fact that “Thor” takes place in a fictional universe where gods exist, but God apparently does not. For kids, this might be confusing, but for teens and adults, it will be easily discernible.
There are some positive messages to be found in “Thor”. As with most Marvel movies, “Thor” promotes positive character traits like selflessness and sacrifice. While the emotions are fully developed, there is plenty of redemption to be found in the main character’s growth, as well as his relationship with his family.
While an entire movie may have been a little much for the character, Thor will make an exciting addition to the cast of “The Avengers”, which comes out next year. This film dazzles technically and definitely has its moments. Without “Spider Man” or “Iron Man”, “Thor” would be much more satisfying. But alas, those films do exist, and “Thor” just does not compare. If you’re looking for a major league hit that is a filling movie experience, then this probably isn’t the film for you. However, if you’re in the mood for some clean, second rate summer fun, then “Thor” is just the ticket.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Minor
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