Weekend Review – “Thor”

The spoiler-free version of this review: go see the movie, and don’t leave while the credits are rolling.

Cast and Crew Information

Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Natalie Portman as Jane Foster
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Anthony Hopkins as Odin
Stellan Skarsgard as Erik Selvig
Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis
Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson
Maximiliano Hernandez as Agent Sitwell
Idris Elba as Heimdall
Colm Feore as Laufey
Ray Stevenson as Volstagg
Tadanobu Asano as Hogun
Josh Dallas as Fandral
Jaimie Alexander as Sif
Rene Russo as Frigga

Cameos under spoiler guard:
J. Michael Straczynski as the townie who finds Mjolnir
Stan Lee as the guy with the truck
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton / Hawkeye

End cameos.

Written by J. Michael Straczynski, Mark Protosevich, Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne. Joss Whendon did an uncredited rewrite to make sure it aligns with his plans for The Avengers.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Premise

Thor is about to ascend to the throne of Asgard when he makes a mistake and is exiled to Midgard instead.

High Point

This is a superhero movie that understands subtlety. There are no shortage of superhero movies these days, and this is as loaded with comic book Easter eggs as Iron Man 2 was. However, these feel far more natural. Like many who will see the movie, my sister hasn’t read the source material. After watching Iron Man 2, she could easily point out the Easter eggs, though she couldn’t explain what they meant. I don’t think she’ll be able to do that with this one. Quick poll for those who have seen the movie: how many of you noticed the tourism billboard in New Mexico that encouraged people to “Journey Into Mystery” when watching this?

Low Point

Agent Sitwell, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent surpassed only by Nick Fury himself, did jack squat. I’m actually surprised they create Coulson instead of using Sitwell in the original Iron Man, and they finally introduce Sitwell and he does nothing. Check out “Tales of Suspense #93-99” to see what I mean. Sitwell’s introduction to “Iron Man” planted S.H.I.E.L.D. in Marvel continuity and transformed the types of stories told using Iron Man.

The Review

This is an original type of superhero film. Rather than having a regular guy gain powers, we see a superpowered individual transformed into a regular guy. While there is certainly huge scope and spectacle involved, there are numerous subtle points to help map the hero’s journey. (Watch things like fighting styles throughout the film, expectations of servitude, and Loki’s manipulative dialog for the best examples.) I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects were well done. The 3D version is nice, but I don’t know that much would be lost by seeing the 2D version instead. For starters, it’s the first 3D movie I’ve seen that keeps all action and objects in the plane behind the physical screen instead of coming out at the audience. I kept expecting them to save the “out at the audience” effects for impact with something significant later in the film, but that never happened, which came across as a bit of a distraction for me. That’s really the only nitpick I have, and give the film 5 out of 6.

The story is well formed and constructed. If anything, the only real weak point is the lack of definition for Jane Foster. She’s a dedicated researcher, but she goes from “driven at work” to “puppy love outside work” with next to nothing in between. She’s the classic 1960s “love interest for the sake of a love interest” with an excuse to get involved before she falls in love. I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting is solid all around. The casting agents were definitely on the right track when they put this group together. Everyone involved both looks and acts the parts as written. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production is well done. Branagh’s Shakespearean background lends itself well to the Asgardian scale, and his attention to detail is fantastic. We see Thor, Loki, Hogun, Fandrall, Volstagg and Sif in battle, and each fights with a unique style. Thor’s fighting style actually changes as his character arc progresses throughout the story. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response is very good. I’m not a huge Thor fan, as I find it hard to feel concerned about a god who is up against a mortal threat. This handles that very well, and pulls me into the story nicely. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a strong movie that follows the tight throughline to The Avengers without distracting the audience along the way. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Thor receives 35 out of 42.

8 replies on “Weekend Review – “Thor””

  1. JD DeLuzio says:

    Certainly a fun superhero movie, better-directed than most, but I’d have given it a slightly lower rating. As usual, they cram too many things into too little time and character receives short shrift as a result. However, we did enjoy it.

    Save for the space scenes, the 3-D, IMO, serves no purpose. Some films are born for 3-D, some films achieve 3-Dness, and Thor has had 3-D foisted upon it. Unless you really like 3-D, I wouldn’t pay the extra for it.

    • A friend of mine said it best: “3D is the auto-tune of movies.”

      Of course, if he’s right, that means 3D isn’t going away anytime soon.

  2. hussein says:

    While I loved the movie, I really wished they had spent more time on Thor’s character from arrogant prick to redeemed hero who learns humility. The change didn’t come off convincingly enough for me, it was too fast.

  3. I forgot to include a comment: I’ve been asked about how appropriate this would be for a seven year old in terms of violence. It’s about as violent as the source material. There are stabbings, and one particularly violent act at the beginning, but most are relatively bloodless. Honestly, I’d be more concerned about Thor bonding with Erik in a bar than I would be about the violence.

  4. rickyjames says:

    Saw it and enjoyed it. Not a Thor fan and was terribly afraid that it would end up looking stupid because how can you project the concerns of gods in a mortal tale? Yet they did very well, primarily because the depiction of Asgard in general and the rainbow bridge in particular were A+. These had a sense of spectacular grandeur that was crucial to “willing suspension of disbelief”.

    Hopkins and Hiddleson were spot on as Odin and Loki and Hemsworth was quite good as Thor. Interesting to me that you have a Brit Shakespearean director and two key Brit actors (I’m assuming Hiddleson is a Brit, sure seemed like it) and an Aussie actor in the key roles – they lend a gravatas that I feel sure an all-American crew could not have pulled off.

    Interesting comment about why 3D for Thor when all the visual effects stayed in the plane of the movie screen. The do it to minimize visual fatigue but even in moderation like Thor it’s still exhausting. I saw it in 3D and have a headache the morning after. I’ve read in several places that 3D will never catch on commercially ecause of that effect. The brain is constantly having to override your reflexes to keep visual focus on the plane of the screen even as the “action” and “motion” is triggering subconscious learned responses to shift visual focus to follow the three D cues. There are a growing number of studies showing this is really hard to do and eye motion of people watching 3D is vastly different than watching a 2D version of the same film.

    Overall, a solid movie. Make mine Marvel!

  5. PuppetSocko says:

    Kat Denning as Darcy makes for pretty good comic relief.

  6. prentice says:

    I wasn’t a consistent comic book reader when I was a kid…I read a lot of comics, but random titles, and never really kept up with any particular series. That said, I remember reading Thor comics, but not much of the storyline or history of the character, so I cannot really comment on how close to the comics the movie was.

    However, if you’re a fan of mythology, or ever read much of Norse mythology, there are some things that didn’t quite sit well. But then, it is a comic book movie, not a movie based on Norse mythology. There were things that were definitely part of the Norse mythology, and they were done very well (Odin’s horse, for example).

    I don’t agree with the “lack of
    So, if you’re looking for an insight into Norse mythology, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for some great entertainment based on a neat comic, you’ll enjoy it!

    I don’t completely agree with the “lack of definition for Jane Foster” comment. There really wasn’t all that much character development, so I agree with that part overall, but since I read this review before seeing the movie, I was expecting her scenes to be far worse than they were. The ‘“driven at work” to “puppy love outside work” with next to nothing in between’ didn’t really bother me, and when I asked my wife about it afterward, she said something along the lines of, “He’s very exotic and handsome, and did nice things for her…she’s human and had a believable reaction!”

Comments are closed.