In the past decade since Bryan Singer made superhero flicks a marketable comodity with the first installment of the X-Men franchise, I have only been disappointed three times. The first was Hulk, the second was Superman Returns and the latest comic book movie, Thor (AKA Thor: The Mighty Avenger) has become the third. Please, do not confuse disappointed with dissatisfied. I didn't hate any of these movies, but in every case I was left with the notion that they could have done better. NOTE: Catwoman was not on my list of disappointments because I knew before hand it was going to be a crapfest, thus there were no hopes to be dashed.
First and foremost allow me to state that I am not a Thor fan. I don't know what it is, but I just don't dig on Thor. In fact, in my collection of thousands of comic books, I don't own a single Thor. I own comics featuring Thor and I've read Thor, but I don't have any. So, with that said, if I make any mistakes or get anything wrong, please, Thor fans, let me know.
Thor begins in Asgard, one of the nine realms of the universe and home to the gods of pagan Viking mythology. Asgard is not to be confused with Valhalla, the Viking equivalent of Heaven. Valhalla is where the dead live, Asgard is where the gods live. Valhalla is located in Asgard, and is not one of the nine realms. We are told of a great war between the warriors of Asgard, led by Odin (the king of the gods, or the Viking equivalent of Zeus or Osiris), and the Frost Giants from the realm of Jotunheim. Odin and his warriors defeat the Frost Giants and capture the source of their power. Fast forward hundreds of years later, and we are about to witness the coronation of Odin's eldest son, Thor, as the new king of Asgard. The coronation is interrupted, however, when a detachment of Frost Giants invade Asgard on a raid to reclaim their power source, the Casket of Ancient Winters. The raid is a failure and the Frost Giants are defeated. Thor is not happy with this and, against his father's direct orders, invades Jotenheim to learn the answers to why they invaded Asgard and how the Frost Giants were able to breach Asgardian security. Another battles ensues, initiated by Thor when the leader of the Frost Giants, Laufey, calls him a "little princess" and much blood is shed. Finally, Odin intervenes and orders his warriors back to Asgard. For his disobedience, and for the sin of arrogance, Odin strips Thor of his powers and banishes him to the realm of Midgard (Earth). Odin then places onto Mjolnir, Thor's war hammer, the enchantment "Whosever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the powwer of Thor" and tosses it, as well, to Earth.
On Earth, we follow Thor as he goes from being an arrogant a$$ to being a mopey, whiney little biotch to finally becoming a humble hero. This, is where the story seems to fall apart. OK, so it does a great job of character development, and we are treated to a great Excalibur-esque scene where many rednecks, including J. Michael Straczynski and Stan Lee, try to lift the hammer. Thor, himself, is unable to lift the hammer (cuz, uh, he was stripped of his power, duh). The entire middle act of the film is a powerless Thor learning how to not be such a pompous jerk. That's handled well, but nothing happens. I was reminded of the Matt Salinger Captain America movie from the early 90's where he is Captain America once at the beginning and once at the end, but the majority of the movie is Steve Rogers running around Europe. This is the same thing. Thor is "Thor" long enough in the beginning to get in trouble, mopes around on Earth for most of the film, then finally learns his lesson, gets his powers back and goes back to Asgard for one last battle. Perhaps a good mythology movie, but not a very exciting superhero movie.
As I said in the beginning, I didn't hate it. There were many good things in the movie. The design was great. Sets, costumes, make-up were all magnificent on Asgard and realistic on Earth. Ray Stevens' (Punisher: War Zone) Volstag was great. The films main villain, Loki, was very well written and performed. The acting was wonderful all around. The special effects were good and the action, when there was any, was well staged. Also, many homages to the comic book were made, including Thor using the alias Donald Blake, even if he never actually turns into a crippled physician working at a free clinic.
The lack of actually being a superhero movie. It was almost as though Kenneth Branagh was trying to do the Shakespearean version of Thor, and it just doesn't work as a comic book flick. Now, if Branagh had done this exact same movie but based it on the actual Viking myths instead of trying to say it was based on the Marvel comic, it may have seemed better. Basically, I was expecting a comic book movie and instead got a mythology movie. Again, I don't read Thor so maybe I was expecting it to be something even the comics aren't. But it seems to me in the comics Thor was banished to Earth, and bonded to Dr. Blake, with all of his powers and forced to be a superhero to earn the brownie points to get back on Odin's good side. I was expecting more of that sort of approach. Another down point was the capes. The costumes were great, but the capes looked dumb. They gave the characters a cheesey padded shoulders look. Much like Kirk Alyn's Superman cape from the 1940's serials. Also, the 3D wasn't that great. This isn't a knock on Thor, really, but a knock on 3D in general. There wasn't any need for it. Save the extra cash and see the standard version. You won't miss anything cool.
WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS MOVIE?
There is nothing political about this movie. Neither Conservatives or Liberals are likely to be offended by anything.
Overall I give Thor a C. It wasn't a bad movie. I'll probably buy the DVD (I'm a completist. I own Catwoman) and I recommend it, especially if you're a Thor fan. Just don't expect a superhero movie in the traditional sense. Expect a character study of a god in disgrace and his journey back to divinity, cuz that's pretty much what this is.
SheldonCooper is an avid comic book reader and follower of DC Comics. He does our movie reviews, cuz frankly we couldn't get anyone else. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org