Thor Movie Review
Thor is the latest from Marvel’s increasingly long line of superhero flicks and an introductory story for his character in the much anticipated Avengers movie next year. The film makes for a perfectly satisfying popcorn flick that has all of the elements that we’ve come to expect from the comic book genre. Thor is an efficient film that holds a steady pace broken up with light hearted humor, a romantic interest, and engaging action set over large set pieces all within a 2 hour running time. Thor really shows off Marvel’s filmmaking prowess as the studio has now become a well oiled machine turning its comics into well produced screenplays and has came a long way from the days of Daredevil and Elektra.
The movie starts off strong in the first 30 minutes as Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), and next in line to be King of Asgard is set to be coronated but things don’t quite go as planned. The frost giants have snuck into Asgard to steal the Casket of Ancient Winters and while their plan is foiled, Thor decides to go against Odin’s orders and confronts the frost giants in their own realm. This leads to an all out battle in which Odin interferes and the truce is broken between the Asgardians and the Frost Giants. Odin banishes Thor to Earth as punishment and after a series of events, Thor’s manipulative brother Loki becomes the new King while the aging Odin falls into a coma like “Odinsleep.”
On Earth, Thor is found by Natalie Portman’s scientist character Jane Foster who along with her two associates is exploring the atmospheric anomalies over the desert of New Mexico. Much of the next 20-30 minutes of the film now revolves around Thor’s adjustment to human life and his quest to reclaim his magical hammer Mjolnir. Meanwhile, Loki is unfolding a master plan back in Asgard which could see the destruction of the realm by the Frost Giants. Tom Hiddleston’s snake like performance as Thor’s half-brother is well done in the movie and shows a stark contrast against Hemsworth’s acting chops as the thunder God. The action is mostly limited in this part of the movie until a showdown on Earth with the Destroyer occurs, which steals the show from any action that is later shown in the climax. The movie even sets up some future teases with a brief glimpse of Jeremy Renner’s character Hawkeye from The Avengers and a quick mention of Tony Stark as well. In fact the theme of something larger looming on the horizon is carried through most of the film, especially with Thor’s interactions with the SHIELD agent on Earth. Predictably the climax has Thor returning to Asgard and saving the day although the ending action scenes and the death of the Frost Giant king seem to pale to what was seen earlier in the movie.
If the purpose of this film is to whet the appetite for next summer, than Thor does a good job of doing just that. Thor will not be remembered in the upper echelon of comic book film’s such as X2, Iron Man, or the Dark Knight, but does make for a family friendly and entertaining action film with some familial plotlines. There was some discussion on twitter earlier this week about the film and the superhero genre in general. Personally, I am sensing a bit of burnout from these movies as the themes are being recycled and it’s no longer a singular story but a build up for future cash cow franchises. The reason that Batman Begins, Spider Man, or the first two X-Men movies were critically acclaimed was that they provided depth to the genre while many comic based films have came out to mainly capitalize on nostalgia and fan devotion rather than to do anything to break the status quo. With 2 more major comic book related releases set for the summer, I can see the love for this genre start to wane from oversaturation, especially when movies like Cowboys & Aliens and Super 8 have the chance to breathe some originality back into Hollywood. I recommend checking out Thor in a matinee, don’t bother doing 3D as the movie was shot in 2D and upscaled to the 3D format, so there’s nothing special done for 3D viewers and it’s worth saving the extra money.