CliqueClack Flicks

Thor takes a backseat to the supporting cast

Thor - Theater Review
Release Date: 05/06/2011 - MPAA Rating: PG-13
Clacker Rating: 3 Clacks

Guest clacker Daniel "Mini" Meier chimes in from England to review the latest member of The Avengers to make it to the big screen, with Paramount's 'Thor.'

Superhero films — which are what we call superhero movies in Britain — are notoriously hit and miss. Iron Man was a hit; Hulk was a miss. The Dark Knight was a hit; Hulk was a miss. What we know from this — other than that I seriously need to get over Hulk, considering it was eight years ago — is that superhero films can be good or bad. Which is very appropriate, given the Good vs Evil nature of the whole superhero idea. But Thor was neither good nor bad; it was just, average. Rather like Thor himself.

I’ve not read any of the Thor comics, but lack of informed evidence has never stopped me from passing ill-advised judgement before. Thor just seems like a bit of a rubbish superhero. In the film, he starts out as an arrogant, simple-minded, war-mongering idiot, and as a result is utterly unlikeable. This meant that, when he got banished from Asgard, I didn’t care. Over the course of the film he learns the errors of his foolish ways, and by the end he’s a changed man/god. The problem is, by no longer being the egotistical idiot, he’s lost the only vaguely interesting thing about him. He ends up as such a boring character that I actually found myself longing for the time that I hated him. He has none of the charisma of Superman, nor the humour of Iron Man, nor the darkness of Batman. He’s just muscular.

In fact, the choice of Chris Hemsworth as Thor is clearly based purely on physicality. His constant shouting in a deep, booming voice was reminiscent of Russell Crowe at his worst. However, the acting wasn’t all bad. As I said, this film was average, and that’s mainly because of the strong performances of the rest of the cast. Anthony Hopkins made a great Odin, and Academy Award Winner Natalie Portman (that’s her name now) was sensitive and likeable as Jane Foster. Best of all was Tom Hiddleston‘s Loki; he was a complicated and interesting character, which unfortunately served to emphasise the simplicity and dullness of his brother Thor. The supporting cast did carry this film … but only after the first hour or so.

The first hour consisted of a lot of very annoying exposition, poor fight scenes and the introduction of fairly useless characters; I think Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) only had one line, and all Fandral (Josh Dallas) does is chortle away while having a ridiculous moustache. It isn’t until about an hour in that the film gets vaguely interesting. Once Thor gets to Earth things pick up, and the scenes on Earth are all ten times better than the scenes on Asgard. Having said that, the scenes on Earth still leave a lot to be desired.

There’s more bad plot exposition, particularly the line which went something like, “You’re an astrophysicist, not some stormchaser!’ Sorry, what’s her profession? Could you make that any clearer? Could you patronise the audience any more, by implying that they won’t work out that she’s an astrophysicist despite the fact that it becomes self-evident over the course of the film? I think that’s how all characters should be introduced from now on. They may as well have said, “You’re the God of Thunder, Son of Odin, not an … insurance salesman.”

But it’s not just the poor exposition, it’s also the “comedy.” Jokes are repeated, so you see exactly the same visual gag twice. There are two instances of this. They don’t do them once, where we could acknowledge that it was meant to be funny but wasn’t, and then just move on with our lives and forget any of it had ever happened. And they don’t do them three times, where they might become funny through repetition — they do them twice. The genuine comedy comes from Thor’s lack of knowledge of modern Earth life, which though derivative of films like Les Visiteurs (The Visitors), provides some actual laughs. However, this isn’t taken nearly far enough, and becomes a waste. Thor actually seems to become acclimatised surprisingly quickly. Personally it takes me a while to get used to a new country, never mind an entirely new planet. And also, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog set a precedent; any script which involves a hammer should include the line, “The hammer is my penis.”

The final annoying thing about the film was some of the visuals. I saw it in 3D, and I know it’s irritating to complain about 3D, but if I only did stuff that wasn’t irritating I’d be inactive for most of my life. It might be the same in 2D — I’m not sure — but the fight scenes were all blurry and difficult to follow. Also, all the scenes in Asgard were stupidly dark. Not in a cool Christopher Nolan’s Batman way, but in a “I can’t see anything” way. Asgard itself looked like something from a computer game, with people often looking like Sims. Every time a piece of furniture got in their way I expected them to just stop walking and start shrugging.

So, overall, Kenneth Branagh‘s failures as director — and there were many — were made up for by most of the supporting cast, particularly Tom Hiddleston. Providing you take Thor in the fun spirit in which it’s intended — and perhaps just ignore the first hour — it’s enjoyable enough. Essentially, this was an average film for an average superhero.

Daniel “Mini” Meier is a politics and philosophy student, a blogger, and a comedy and television obsessive from England. You can see more of him on his blog and on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Paramount

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