You are unworthy of your title, and I’ll take from you your power! In the name of my father, and his father before him, I cast you out!
-Odin to Thor
Thor is Marvel’s next film in their ongoing Marvel film Universe that so far consists of Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and The Incredible Hulk. What makes Thor different is that more than half of the movie doesn’t even take place on earth, but in Asgard or on one of the other planes. Along with that Thor has a young cast(lead by Chris Hemsworth; Tom Hiddleston)and director(Kenneth Branagh) who has made his career out of doing Shakespearean films. Thor also has the task of introducing the audience to Asgard; a world that is a combination of magic and technology. Can Thor overcome all of these shortcomings and make Thor yet another building block to the Marvel Avengers universe or will it fall flat and give audiences another lukewarm movie to start the summer (looking at you Iron Man 2)?
Thor begins showing us the wonders and powers of the Asgardians lead by Odin(Anthony Hopkins) as they battle the Frost Giants(that’s another race of inter-dimensional beings for those of you not well versed in Thor). The movie shows the triumph of Asgard over its enemies. After the battle Odin steals a sacred relic from the Frost Giants; the casket of Ancient Winters. After we see this we see that Odin has two sons, Thor and Loki. It is clear that Thor is the overzealous one while Loki stays calm and collected, even when they are just children. The movie then flashfowards to present day with Thor about to be crowned the next king of Asgard. Things go wrong as a small group of Frost Giants come and try to take back the Casket of Ancient Winters. Their plot is foiled but Thor is outraged because the day of his glory was stolen. Odin tells Thor to calm down and not worry about it, but Thor insists that the Frost Giants must pay. Odin forbids that anything be done. Eventually Thor gathers with Loki and some of his other friends in Asgard; Sif, Volstagg, Fandral, and Hogun and they go into the world of the Frost giants and start a battle. They eventually get overcome and almost die, but Odin shows up just in time to rescue them. The frost giants then declare war on Asgard. Odin returns all of them to Asgard and is furious with Thor. He then proceeds to banish Thor from Asgard; sending him down to earth with his hammer sent down after him for Thor to retrieve when he’s ready. From here the film unfolds in some really cool ways.
The movie ends up becoming a redemption story for Thor that shows how he learns to humble himself and a story of the rise of evil for Loki. What I really like about the movie is the dynamic between Thor, Loki, and Odin. Its a story of two sons who both want the throne and both want their father’s approval. These characters are really what made this movie for me. On a personal note I really don’t like the character of Thor; he’s cocky, arrogant, stubborn, headstrong, and selfish. He thinks he’s better than anyone else and he thinks the throne belongs to him. I find him unlikable. I’ll give him this; he does change by the end of the end, but those traits won’t just go away I’m sure we’ll see them reemerge in some form in The Avengers(in 2012). Thor ends up developing in the film into someone who had some legitimate honor and he does learn to humble himself by the end of the movie. He learns to care about someone and something other than himself which is great. I thought the development felt a bit forced at times, but it worked well enough. The other character I loved watching was Loki. Loki plays the cool, calm, and collected brother who is always watching and formulating a plan. He is smart, strategic, and overall a much better leader. In the film he has a legitimate plan(that I won’t spoil) that he wishes to use to please his father an win the throne of Asgard. I personally thought he deserved the throne; in the end he may not be a good guy but I thought he would have been a far better King than Thor. Personal notes on the characters aside I loved watching the scenes with the characters interacting with each other; the dynamic between Thor and Loki was extremely well written and terrifically acted by Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. The movie nailed the characters and I think the credit goes to Kenneth Branagh for being able to bring his Shakespearian touch to these actors. Aside from the three leads we had Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, and the returning Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson from the Iron Man films. The acting and directing for this movie is top notch.
This movie certainly delivers visually as well. The world of Asgard is beautiful as we get vast shots of the cities in all of its glory. The shots of the desert are cool and the overall look and cinematography is pretty solid. Visuals are great(although I’ll say that the 3D in this film certainly doesn’t contribute to this) and they generally impress all of the way through. There were a few times some of the flying effects or the the fight scene with the destroyer felt were a little weak, but generally I think everything looks solid. Costume design is also solid; whoever was the designer had quite a task making costumes that look believable on earth, but also magical in a way. The entire movie does a great job at balancing a realist look and also a fantastical look. The look meets somewhere in the middle and manages not to look cheesy but somehow believable. The entire ascetic of the film is great and it shows in little things like costumes, cinematography, and stage design.
I feel like this film succeeds on many levels; its well acted, directed, filmed, and looks great. Despite all of this I am just having a hard time calling this a great movie. I still don’t think it succeeds like the original Iron Man does, but Thor certainly succeeds at doing what its trying to do. I suppose my biggest problem is with the story which within itself isn’t bad, or at least not all of it is. I understand that Thor needed to be sent to earth to learn a lesson, but most of the scenes that were on earth weren’t nearly as interesting as the scenes done in Asgard. They were missing something; maybe it was the Thor/Loki scenes or maybe it was the fact that it didn’t look as cool, but I know that the scenes on earth just didn’t seem that great. You had Natalie Portman who is a fantastic actress who hardly did anything in the movie. Sure she was there for romantic tension, but she really didn’t do a whole lot in the movie. It was mostly Thor doing things while she followed him around. Along with that the stakes never felt super high for earth. Sure the people in that town were in danger, but the only reason they were in danger was because Thor was there. I didn’t hate the story, but I could definitely tell which parts of the movie the film makers enjoyed doing more and it certainly wasn’t the scenes on earth. I will say that the scenes on earth were generally funnier than the ones in Asgard, but again that goes back to the fact that Asgard always felt like things mattered. Overall I definitely think the story works its just that I didn’t think it was consistent in quality.
Overall I would say Thor is a great film to check out and does a great job as serving as the first blockbuster of the summer. There is great acting, directing, action sequences, funny moments, and just plain old fun. The movie succeeds as a blockbuster. The film just really struggles making the plot consistent and the supporting cast relevant which I think keeps it from being a great movie all around. The movie doe s a great job at setting up for the Avengers without the little tie ins getting in the way(like Iron Man 2) which is great. If you’re not a fan of Thor I would still highly recommend you check this out if you have any intention of watching the Avengers or if you’ve watched the other Marvel film universe movies. Make sure to stay after the credits; as most of us know by now Marvel loves sneaking those tie ins at the very end just give fans something to get excited for. I should probably make a quick note about the 3D. The 3D in this movie is not poorly done, in fact I’d say they did a pretty good job converting the film; the thing is that the 3D really doesn’t add anything to the movie. There were only a couple times I saw something that looked sort of cool, but in general it really wasn’t worth the extra money. I’d stick to the 2D and not because the 3D is bad, but pointless. Overall Thor is a great blockbuster and a good movie; however it fails to live up to the original Iron Man in making itself a great movie overall. Thor is good, not great but still worth a look.
Thor starts off with a great story about two brothers who both want to please their father and rule over Asgard. As things unfold their relationship changes as Thor is banished to earth and Loki begins to embrace evil. The story that takes place in Asgard is terrific and the entire plot that involves Asgard is very interesting. Unfortunately the part of the story that takes place on earth is far less compelling. Thor essentially learns to humble himself and has to become a better man to fight the growing threat from Asgard. The biggest problem with the earth storyline is that the stakes never really feel high and most of the characters who are only in that storyline are underutilized and never really develop. The set up for The Avengers is really cool; its great getting to see this universe come together and this film does a great job at moving some of the pieces into place.
I found that the characters in this film were well done even if I did not always like them. Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, and Anthony Hopkins all do excellent jobs in the film and watching their characters interact is easily the highlight of the film. The lead characters are well written and fleshed out and none of them is made too unlikable, not even Loki. Unfortunately there is some wasted talent in this film as Natalie Portman really doesn’t have a while lot to do. She plays a pretty flat character which is unfortunate because of the talent that was being wasted. Aside from her most of the other characters who are exclusively on earth are also pretty flat. At least they are funny.
Kenneth Branagh had a very difficult task of making these supreme God-like beings relatable to modern audiences. This movie could have gone wrong in so many different ways and it was Branagh’s direction that really pulled this movie together. He brought his Shakespearian style to the film and it is felt in the scenes in Asgard. He is able to draw terrific performances out of the actors and gives the movie its own unique flavor among the Marvel films that have come out so far. The look of the film is unique and it captures the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe, but it also never comes across as too cheesy which was a huge risk this film could have run into.
Overall Effectiveness of the Film: 8.0
This movie delivers on the blockbuster side of things giving us interesting characters, cool action set pieces,eye candy(good special effects), and some great laughs. In this it succeeds, but for those of us who were hoping for something greater we may have been let down a little bit as this movie fails to be something great. Due to an uneven story and some very underdeveloped characters and underutilized talent this movie just can’t stand on its own as great. The film does however do quite a bit of set up for The Avengers which is due out in 2012 and depending on how that movie ends up, it could make Thor a better film. If you have any interest in seeing The Avengers or like the Iron Man films I would highly recommend that you check out Thor.Good movie, but not great.
Overall Score: 8.0