50- Thor [6.0]

The epic adventure spans the Marvel Universe from present day Earth to the mystical realm of Asgard. At the center of the story is The Mighty Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. As a result, Thor is banished to Earth where he is forced to live among humans. When the most dangerous villain of his world sends its darkest forces to invade Earth, Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero.

When it was announced that Kenneth Branagh was to direct Thor, it seemed to be a perfect match of director and material. With his background as actor and director of many Shakespeare adaptations, Branagh would be able to get the best performances from his actors. Considering he’s never worked on a project with such a large budget and expectations, the only worrisome factors were whether or not he’d be able to handle the fight sequences and find a way to make the Asgard sequences and costumes not look cheesy. For the most part, he succeeds.

The fish out of water trope has been used many times before, but it’s necessary for the portions of the film in which Thor is on Earth. Chris Hemsworth handles all facets of Thor (the arrogance, humility and charm) with ease, proving that his star-turning performance in Star Trek was no fluke. Tom Hiddleston was the highlight of the film, with his layered portrayal of Loki. The reasons for his actions, coupled with his intelligence and playfully mischievous side make Loki the best villain to appear in a comic book adaptation thus far. Idris Elba does a fantastic job as Heimdall, the guardian of the rainbow bridge (which is exponentially more awesome than it sounds).

Thor is not without its faults– the romance with Jane Foster, Thor’s personality change and the third act are all rushed. Though the film speeds along without losing its momentum, an extra few scenes to pad the Earth and Asgard sequences could have gone a long way to fleshing out some of the character development (it’s obvious that the majority of Renee Russo’s lines ended up on the cutting room floor). Depending on how you feel about Kat Dennings, some of the humor on Earth may feel unnecessary (though Thor gets some great lines– “I need sustenance!”).

I would have liked to see a Thor film that solely takes place in the nine realms, but perhaps that will occur in a sequel. I took most issue with Branagh’s incessant use of dutch angles (achieved by tilting the camera off to the side so that the shot is composed with the horizon at an angle to the bottom of the frame). The vast majority of the films’ shots appear sideways, and though I understand how it could be used to make Asgard feel more alien-like, Brannagh chooses to frame a lot of Earth sequences that way as well.

It’s frequently said that summer blockbusters should be mindless entertainment that allow the audiences to turn off their brain for two hours. On top of that sentiment being insulting to film viewers, it perpetuates the notion that there should be a four month lull of intelligent filmmaking. Thor challenges this idea by rooting the central conflict in Shakespearean themes. Though the film has an abundance of special FX shots and the origin tale of this nature has been done before, Thor is a step above the rest of its class by pushing what is to be expected of a comic book film.

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7 responses to “50- Thor [6.0]”

  1. Dirtywithclass says :

    I actually got around to seeing this in theaters with my dad. I think i liked it a bit more than you tho.

    And i actually liked Darcy. I realize that for some people her one-liners probably came off as annoying, but they didn’t bother me at all.

    And i liked what the movie did with Jane. I particularly liked how(in the beggining at least) she was as headstrong and reckless as Thor himself, and i’m happy her character took a different path then the usual kidnapped by villian route most writers go with for love interests of super heroes.

  2. Kyle Simonsen says :

    Haven’ t seen the film yet, but even the flaws you describe seem Shakespearean; the bard often rushed his final acts (IMHO) and couldn’t stay away from his guilty pleasures even when they were actively working against his text, although it may be for the individual reader/watcher to determine whether puns or dutch angles are more distracting. Good review, btw, probably one of your best here so far.

  3. rtm says :

    I haven’t written my review yet but I know I’ll give it a higher grade than you. It’s funny, I had been VERY skeptical because of the trailers (despite initially excited about it) but I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed with the movie. In fact, I can honestly say I love it. It’s not as daft as I thought it’d be, it’s an enjoyable origins story w/ decent performances all around. I also enjoyed the production design and the music by Patrick Doyle is highly affecting, no surprise there as I’ve been a fan of his work.

  4. jarwatchesfilms says :

    Ruth, I’m going to have to see it again to get my mind right on Doyle’s score. I thought the ‘humility’ theme or whatever it’s called (when he can’t lift Mjolnir and it appears again towards the end) was an interesting choice– it has a ‘graduation song’ type feel that definitely affected me upon initial viewing, I just can’t determine what that feeling was. I’m glad he didn’t go for being overly bombastic overall

  5. Hunter says :

    Cool review, but I’m with a previous commenter in that I liked it maybe a “little bit” more. I really can’t think of anything negative to say, and I agree that I would love to see a Thor sequel that has as little of Earth in it as possible, although I’ll also say that I didn’t think there was too much Earth in this one. It was a great balance between them. An all around good film to start the summer off with.

    I also wrote a review for Thor (7/10) that I would love for you guys to check out and comment! It’s linked through my name.

  6. Kyle Simonsen says :

    Having finally watched this today, I now appreciate the sustenance line, which will no doubt be a wonderful joke for my brother and I for several weeks. I thought the humor from Kat Dennings was fine, and I found her character to be more interesting than Natalie Portman’s, frankly.

    [SPOILER]
    I really enjoyed the Hawkeye cameo, and I just wish there had been a bit more to it.
    [SPOILER OFF]

    Overall, I was pretty disappointed in this. I felt like it was two awkward, underdeveloped storyline held together somewhat tenuously. The changes in Loki and Thor happen abruptly and superficially. There are too many supporting characters, some of whom have almost no function to the plot.

    Elba, Hiddleston, and Hemsworth were all wonderful actors for these roles, but their roles just weren’t as dynamic as I would have hoped. I certainly don’t think this was better than Iron Man, and it probably wasn’t even better than Iron Man 2.

  7. jarwatchesfilms says :

    Well, I think the biggest problem is SHIELD’s involvement. Same thing happened in Iron Man 2. Story development for any of the characters (Jane and Thor, those up in Asgard) could have very well been in place of all the unnecessary Marvel Cinema Universe tying together stuff. I remember how cool it was to see that Nick Fury cameo at the end of Iron Man– people had been wanting easter eggs and whatnot like that for years. Now, unfortunately, it’s too much and the movies are suffering because of them.

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