Monday, September 5, 2011

Thor (2011) - 3/5

Of all the popular Marvel superheroes and those included on The Avengers, Thor was easily one of my least favorite. The tale never connected with me and the odd parallel of having an ancient myth god as a superhero just never sat well. Thusly, "Thor" is one of the Marvel films I was least interested in. I don't care if you get a great director, a solid cast, and give it a modern visual feast - it's still fucking Thor. Turns out the film isn't near as horrid as it could have been and contains a certain lightheartedness that sells the whole thing nicely. Not to mention it has all of those things listed above to its benefit. Still not great and one still has to leave the brain checked out to enjoy it, but it is fun.

Thor (Hemsworth) is a brash and arrogant soon to be king in the science fiction/alternate/space/ancient realm of Asgard, who after instigating a bit of a fight with their arch rivals the Frost Giants, gets banished to Earth where he must earn the power of his hammer back. With the help of an American scientist Jane (Portman), Thor must regain his composure, retrieve his hammer from S.H.I.E.L.D., and uncover a larger plot involving his brother Loki (Hiddleston) and aging father Odin (Hopkins).

Let's be honest, compared to the likes of both of the "Iron Man" films, "Thor" is a bit of a disappointment. It's obvious that Kenneth Branagh understood many of the flaws of the script and its ridiculous plot points and takes the focus to the right directions: visual grandeur and tongue-in-cheek moments to alleviate the awkwardness. This is truly "Thor"s saving grace and prevents it from falling too far into modern B-movie drivel. The settings and combination of classic Norse mythology done with the science fiction twist transfers well to the look of the film and Branagh ably captures the ridiculousness of the action in all of its cheesy glory to the film's benefit. Partnering this with the rather charming performance of Hemsworth (who owns the 'stranger in a strange land' humor to its fullest) and some stellar supporting cast work - including a very well portrayed Loki - and "Thor" has some solid things going for it.

Unfortunately, the film suffers from a bit too many cliche's and some lacking logic to its plot. Thor's powers seem almost unmatched (he can fly, make tornadoes, shatter ground to the core, magically boomerang his hammer around, and of course throw down like it was nothing but play time) to the point where if he didn't win it would be asinine and the rather poorly developed romantic sub-plot with a horridly used Portman does nothing to really convince the audience of Thor's magic redemption. This knocks the film down from its mighty myth pedesta.

All in all, "Thor" is a fun, the action is well crafted (if not too ridiculous - like the big ice lizard), and the humor is pretty spot on. This makes it an entertaining watch with its charisma, but below the surface of this film "Thor" suffers from poorly scripted sub plots and horridly used supporting cast members like Portman. I'm sure that the series will strengthen now that the 'origin' plot is out of the way so I am looking forward to "Thor 2", but for now this entry remains an entertaining film but not much more beyond that.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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