I’ve seen Thor and it’s what you’d expect. A towering hunky blond Viking who flies with the aid of his towering hunky blond hammer. He is cast from Valhalla by his father for an impetuous, bullheaded action that nearly causes a war. He lands on earth and is promptly clobbered by a Hummer full of scientists studying… we are never really given any suggestion what they study. Something about the cosmos, or earth, or paranormal experience. Suffice it to say, these folks are credentialed. One of them even majored in science (social science, she later admits).
As seems to happen in movies like this one, The lead scientist is a young beautiful woman full of intelligence and not much else. That’s not true. She also has breasts, and she’s Natalie Portman. Thor inevitably falls in love with her, and she reciprocates (as seems to happen in movies like this one) against the advice of her crew, who think they’ve simply run over a stoned homeless kook in the middle of the New Mexico desert, which is where stoned homeless kooks seem to congregate in movies like this one.
There are a lot of movies like this one.
The special effects and foley track were what you’d expect, with the requisite number of fireballs, exploding cop cars, shattering glass, and the like.
The relationship between Thor and the young hot science is predicated on him removing his shirt, of course. He is a bad-mannered grunt who asks for another beverage by flinging the first cup to the ground and shouting “ANOTHER!” to the mead-wenches. Of course, he’s in a small-town American diner, where they frown on such behavior.
The main plot centers on the conflict between Valhalla and the land of the Frost Giants. Odin Allfather (played by Sir Anthony Hopkins) and his two sons, slightly-too-destructive Thor and the saturnine Loki, are embroiled in a battle of succession, and war with the Frost Giants seems inevitable.
The storyline is rather obnoxious, in that we meet the scientists, who clobber the Big Guy with their car–this takes approximately five minutes–then we’re treated to 30 minutes of backstory in Valhalla. We find out *why* Thor was flung to earth, and who the main players are in Valhalla.
The film misses its chance at being funny and self-deprecating. I only laughed twice during the film, both times at it, and not because of it. The two biggest “laughs” in the script were also in all the previews. I was disappointed in Kenneth Branagh. Since his production of Henry V, I’ve watched his career, mostly enjoyed his work. Thor fell flat. It feels like the script itself was hit with a Hummer, and maybe backed over a few times, in case it wasn’t dead on arrival.
I have to make brief mention of my sons, who twice made me snort with laughter during the film: first, a 20-foot-tall laser-eyed guardian of Valhalla makes it way to earth to destroy everything on earth shaped like Thor. A lot of random violence ensues… cars exploding and flipping, gas stations combust into fireballs the size of, well, a gas station. My son Daniel leaned to me and whispered, “That robot sure does hate cars.” Later, as is the case with movies like this, somebody falls from a precipice and we follow his descent until the victim is nothing but a dot in the screen. Daniel mumbled, sotto voce, the line that you’d expect to be in the script at that moment: “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.” I snorted with delight.
The effects were fun. The story was weak as lukewarm gruel. The love story was thoroughly ineffective. The actor who played The Valhallans were believable in their roles as super-deities, and did the best job they could with a lame script. Chris Hemsworth is enjoyable as Thor, and has a smile that makes the audience like him immediately despite being an obnoxious boor.
My sons are Nordic mythology nerds. I didn’t know this. They knew the names of all Thor’s relatives. They knew the names of the weapons carried by Loki, Thor, and Odin, and probably others. They knew not only the Nordic name for Realm of the Frost giants, but also the Realm of the Fire Giants, and a couple other other realms that did not appear in the film. They were upset that Odin’s ravens didn’t appear in the film. They were also upset that Ygdrassil (the World Tree) was pronounced so strangely. Kudos to my kids and their nerdy ways. I was profoundly impressed.
I can’t leave this review without a few words about 3D technology in general. This was my first 3D experience since Disney’s Honey, I Blew Up The Kids, back in the 1990s. I left the little Disney mini-theater with a massive headache and a silent promise to never do that again. I figured the technology had matured to the point that my headaches would vanish. I was wrong. I spent over half the film adjusting to the stupid glasses. The multidimensional effects added nothing to the enjoyment of the film, in fact, it distracted me from the story. Several shots seemed gratuitously placed for the 3D technology itself, rather than for the story. This is a dangerous trend in storytelling on film, in my opinion. I don’t want to stare at a church steeple because I want to “oooh” at the depth shot. I want to stare at it because the steeple will mean something later in the film. 3D is now ubiquitous, but my feeling is soon, audiences will stop going. The silly tickets cost $12, and this was at a 11:30 AM showing. I got to keep the glasses. I might pop the lenses out so I can dress like Drew Carey this Halloween.
I can’t say the movie was awful. I didn’t hate it. It was simply okay. The actors, and possibly the director, did their best with what they were given to work with: a boilerplate script where Nordic names were inserted wherever [superhero] appeared on the wordprocessor. I may see a sequel, but chances are high that I’d wait for it to come out on Netflix.