Jeromy's Movie Review: THOR
Published: May 2, 2011 - 9:18am
Like many of the sequel and prequel films that will follow over the next few months, Thor has the burden of living up to a staggering amount of hype. In some ways, it succeeds. In several ways, it fails.
Visually, the movie is beautiful; especially the stunning world of Asgard. When we are first introduced to it, an overwhelming sense of wonder and excitement exudes through the screen. Accompanying this opening salvo is Patrick Doyle’s lump-in-the-throat inducing score. The musical composition for Thor is spot on; part superhero fanfare – part medieval epic. Doyle has clearly outdone himself with this score. It is also my sincere hope for anyone who sees this movie is that you see it in a theater with good sound. The sound effects are incredible. You feel every unique blast, punch, window smash and hammer pound right down to your toes.
Moving from technical achievements to acting, all that can be said is Chris Hemsworth IS Thor. Tom Hiddleston IS Loki. Anthony Hopkins IS Odin. It's as simple as that. They were all a joy to watch. While the entire cast embodies their comic book counterparts to near perfection, for the shared cinematic universe that Marvel has created, they ARE perfection. One standout performance has to be that of Idris Elba as Asgard’s ever-vigilant gatekeeper, Heimdall. The intensity and quiet composure he brought to his role made it impossible to take your eyes off him whenever he was on screen.
Another pleasant surprise was finding out that the S.H.I.E.L.D. elements which detracted from Iron Man 2 were not obstructive in Thor as some have speculated. S.H.I.E.L.D being incorporated into the story as an initial adversary made them relevant to the story rather than an addition to it. Happily, not much time was spent setting up future Marvel endeavors.
Once we're brought inside the world of Asgard’s gleaming spires and golden architecture we never want to leave. Unfortunately Thor, in his arrogance, had to go and accidentally reignite a war with the their old adversaries, the Frost Giants. In an intense scene, Odin banishes Thor to Midgard (Earth) in order to force him to prove his worthiness to wield the hammer, Mjolnir and lead Asgard as its king. It’s when we follow him to Earth that the film begins to fall apart.
The juxtaposition of the sci-fi fantasy realm of Asgard with the familiarity of plain old New Mexico, US of A is inherently amusing and a welcome respite at this point in the film. A superhero film surely needs several moments of levity to avoid getting bogged down under its own weight. Thor, as a misplaced god on Earth, will naturally produce these moments just by the sheer nature of their absurdity. The problem is that aside from a few action sequences, there is nary a scene until Thor’s return to Asgard in which that absurdity is not capitalized on. The comedic elements, while they do add to the fun, could have been dialed back a touch in order to give more gravity to the story elements.
As for those story elements, this is where Thor’s shortcomings become more apparent. There is almost no depth to the plot at all. There are no surprises, no real subplots. Even the plot twist towards the end was foreshadowed early on rendering it a bit shock proof. There is one layer to this movie. True, it’s a great layer, but for those hoping for more than one continuous linear plot it’ll leave them short.
This brings me to Thor's one fatal flaw. The premise of the entire movie is that Odin banishes Thor to Earth in order to teach him humility, compassion, courage and all those other qualities which would make him fit to be king. Until then he is powerless and unable to wield his mighty hammer until he is deemed worthy. The impetus for him finding this quality comes in the form of a battle with the Asgardian war machine, sent by Loki, called the Destroyer. Without revealing too much, I'll say that this scene plays out as more of a "loophole" discovery for Thor than a dramatic -- and heroic -- character turn; the result of which undermines the entire premise of the film.
The love story between Thor and Jane is a bit forced. The final showdown between Thor and Loki was surprisingly anticlimactic. Though there is no doubt in fans minds that Loki is ultimately the villain , it would have been nice to have that revealed towards the end of the film rather than the beginning. The effect would have been allowing us to see Loki manipulating and moving the chess pieces around the board which there really isn’t much of after the first half hour.
I guess the best compliment that I can pay Thor is that it feels like possibly the first real superhero movie I’ve seen. Moving between realms, in addition to Thor’s truly super powers, make Thor the first comic book movie that has felt truly fantastical. For that, the superb job by the actors as well as the sheer beauty of its production, it should be applauded. It boils down to this: If you want to like Thor, you will like it. The film will give you very little reason to dislike it. It's fun, entertaining and a treat for the senses. For those who require a little bit more depth and demand more than just visceral stimulation, you’ll probably find it lacking.