by Bret Dorman
I’m going to start this preface by saying contrary to what a lot of people assume about me, I do not know a lot about comics. I don’t know what it is, but people always just assume I am some sort of comic geek. I didn’t really get into comics until late teens and then it was only The Punisher.
Most of my knowledge of my favorite childhood superhero, The Amazing Spider-Man, comes not from the comic books, but the animated show that I would always catch after school. I must of seen every episode, which is a pretty big accomplishment in the times before Hulu and Netflix.
So no, I don’t know much about Thor or his origins or what a Thor movie should look like. But I do know action movies. In particular what makes one action movie more badass than another. Thor may be a good Mindless Summer Blockbuster. Thor may be a good comic book movie. Thor may be ‘funnier’ than I would have expected (before seeing the previews). But Thor is NOT a good action movie.
The Story: Chris Hemsworth is Thor. His dad is Anthony Hopkins/Odin and his brother is Tom Middleston/Loki. Thor gets banished to Earth to ‘learn a lesson’ and meets super sexy scientist Natalie Portman and her crew. Together they joke around and goof off until they realize they probably need to start doing stuff and there’s some ‘drama’ and ‘action scenes’. Also, midway through is a pretty cool Upcoming Marvel Cameo…
People seem to have confused (Comic Book) Superhero Movie with Good Action Movie. I can understand. Spider-Man set that bar pretty high. But even the action in Spider-Man isn’t terrific. Its good and fun. Spider-Man works because the tone of the movie fit the tone of the character.
Ever since Iron Man, it seems like Marvel wants to make every character like Tony Stark (which one could say is just a slightly more cynical version of Peter Parker… at least the movie version). Now based on my limited knowledge of Iron Man/Tony Stark from the comics, I would not have picked Robert Downey Jr to play him or the way he played him. But the movie worked. Everything came together just fine. And it killed at the box office.
But Marvel has to watch out. If they start making every movie like Iron Man, every movie will blend together and people will tire of it quick. Plus, the movie might be fun, but it won’t be unique. Every Superhero is different, so every movie should have a different tone. A different style. And then in The Avengers we get to see them all together and go nuts.
So what does all of this ranting and raving mean?
Thor starts out with Thor falling to Earth. Then immediately without any prompting we go into an overly long backstory of what Asgard is and why Thor fell to Earth. Why not just start from the beginning? Plus, all the family drama is really phoned in and pretty childish.
Another pet peeve of mine is that in the movie (again, I don’t know if this is true of the comic or even the Norse Mythology) is Thor is from Asgard. And Asgard is just another planet in the solar system. So Thor isn’t really a God so much as an alien. That kind of peeved me.
Once Thor’s backstory gets ‘fleshed out’ and he lands to Earth, Natalie Portman comes to his rescue. The movie turns into a series of ‘misunderstanding’ jokes that would get stale after a while but the cast does pull them off. I will say I was pleasantly surprised to find out Kat Dennings role is not much more than what’s in the trailer. She gets her jokes in then disappears for a while and has a couple more later.
Chris Hemsworth does a really good job with the charming side of Thor, but is never given a chance to be super angry. Which is good because most the movie he is charming Thor, so most the movie he does a really good job. I just would have like to have seen some more badassery in there. NatPo as always was beautiful and terrific.
So while we go from Earth comedy to Asgard royal family Sub-Shakespearean drama, we never really get an action scene to showcase what exactly makes Thor a God. The best one of the movie comes in at the beginning when Thor tries to take on The Ice Giants. It has some cool moments here and there but ultimately is just a decent opening action scene.
From there we move on to Thor fighting some people on Earth, a giant fire spitting metal thing, and the final fight. But as I mentioned, none of these fights showcase what makes Thor a God. He gets hit a little harder than most people could survive and flies through the air once or twice. Some lightning effects flash around and that happens. Movies like Terminator 2 have people absolutely wrecking eachother and getting up to do it again. This movie had poorly staged fights that seemed more like its characters slapping than full throttle punching.
Director Kenneth Branagh has been known for his directing Shakespeare Movies, yet in this movie, all of the family drama seems to lack any real motivation or momentum. Bringing Branagh on to direct this movie, now that the final product has come out, does not look to be the right choice. If they were trying to catch some of that Shakespeare Mojo they failed. And the action scenes seem placed in just because its a superhero movie, not because anyone wanted to have fun with them.
Before I conclude, I would also like to say all this controversy over Idris Elba (A Black Guy) playing Heimdall (A ‘white’ God) is bullshit. No one threw a fit or seems to care that Tadanobu Asano (An Asian Guy) played Hogun (A ‘white’ God, as I am assuming they all were in Norse Mythology). Asano arguably gets just as much if not more screen time than Elba. Also, Ray Stevenson as Volstagg was underused. But I’m a huge Ray Stevenson fan.
In Conculsion, like I mentioned in my preface, Thor is fun. Its also pretty funny at times. And sometimes its even laughably cheesy. All that’s fine. But when your posters are as badass as they are and promote ‘THE GOD OF THUNDER; THOR’ you HAVE to have good action in your movie. And this movie just doesn’t.
Final Grade: C-