I didn’t go into Thor with high expectations. I’ve never really followed the comics and wasn’t expecting a Shakespearean masterpiece — even with Kenneth Branagh directing. From the beginning of the film, it was clear that I was getting myself into a cheesy popcorn flick and I was mostly OK with that.
The movie starts out with Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, and Kat Dennings schlepping around the desert with a bunch of scientific equipment, researching wormholes. Natalie Portman plays Jane Foster, the horny young scientific ingenue/quirky love interest, while Stellan Skarsgård fills the role of the sane fatherly mentor type, Erik Selvig. Kat Dennings, of course, provides comic relief as Natalie Portman’s plucky assistant Darcy and doesn’t have nearly as many lines as she should. Jane prattles on about how she’s on the verge of a big discovery and how everything that’s been happening is interconnected. Just as the group is about to hit the road, a sudden light show happens. Darcy does not want to drive into it, but Jane does. After a steering wheel fight that could have ended tragically (or preferably in a more saucy cat fight), they drive right into that light show and end up hitting the titular character. They get out of the car to inspect the body and when they do, we are treated to an overly lengthy origin story.
It’s your typical origin story, especially typical for a combo superhero/mythological background. Sir Anthony Hopkins plays Odin, who wages war against the mildly creepy Frost Giants of Jotunheim so that the Ice Baddies won’t conquer the Nine Realms, starting with Earth. He also manages to nab the source of their power, the treasured Casket of Ancient Winters, which looks more like it could be a prop in a Polar Ice chewing gum commercial more than anything.
Sometime down the road, dumb blond prince Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is getting ready to ascend the throne when everyone’s favorite Ice Assholes show up to steal their minty fresh artifact. Even though Odin tells Thor it’s a bad idea to go to Jotunheim, he does it anyway, with his eccentric band of scrappies; there’s token warrior chick, Sif (Jaimie Alexander), Gimli-esque bearded dude Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), pretty boy Fandral (Joshua Dallas), snot-nosed conniving trickster god Loki, and a token Asian guy, Hogun, who is surprisingly played by Tadanobu Asano, whom some of our readers might remember as Kakihara from Ichi the Killer. An epic battle ensues and breaks the truce between the two races, leading Odin to strip Thor of his godly powers and banish him to Earth with Mjolnir, the hammer of legend, which has now been rendered useless until someone worthy enough to use it can wield.
And from there on, you can imagine how the plot develops – I won’t give it all away for you. There are some zany antics as Thor tries to reconcile being a powerless god in a human’s world, while Jane drools over him and Loki schemes in Asgard.
There are a few very predictable plot twists along the way that won’t shock the average viewer. The thing I was most surprised at during this film weren’t the actors’ performances or the CGI effects; it was the lack of action. While it wasn’t a Shakespearean masterpiece, there was entirely too much dialogue and too much forced plot development to seem comfortable. It didn’t fit in with what my idea of an action movie should have been. There were about five fight scenes, tops. I’d gone in expecting a long string of ass kicking and nothing else. I realize that as a female movie-goer, I’m probably supposed to like the romantic subplot that was so rudely forced upon us. But honestly? I didn’t. I was expecting to see guys kicking the fuck out of each other, not Natalie Portman smiling coyly for an hour and a half and playing badly at being bumbling and socially inept. Her performance as Jane seemed like she was trying all too hard to make it a more serious performance than it needed to be. Chris Hemsworth was decent as Thor and managed not to make the role too silly, but there was nothing stand out about his acting either.
The thing that did stand out about the film positively was that a few of the actors, given what they had to work with, did a superb job of having fun with their roles. Sir Anthony Hopkins and Stellan Skarsgård ham it up admirably without going overboard. The real breakthrough performance for me was that of Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki. He seemed to be channeling Matthew Goode as Adrian Veidt in Watchmen for a large portion of the film in the best way possible, until the end of the film, where he came into his own. I hope to see him in more things in the future.
The special effects were passable and did everything they needed to do, but nothing was super great about them. All in all, it’s an average summertime, no-thinking-involved sort of flick. Fans of edgier comics are going to be disappointed if they come in expecting a non-stop action romp as I was. The fighting that was in the film was good, but there wasn’t nearly enough of it for this reviewer and it was very PG-13.
I wish I could add more about if the movie had stayed true to the comics or not, but I’m going to leave that to our faithful readers to fill in for me down below. What did you guys think? Leave a comment below to let us know what you thought of yet another comic book adaptation coming to the big screen!
Thor (2011) Trailer
Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
2 May 2011
Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings