First, allow me to apologize for the absence right after returning. MTAC was a blast – mostly. Some crap went down that ruined the last day for me, but that’s a long story we won’t deal with. With that out of the way, on to the good stuff:
I must give Marvel and Kenneth Branagh credit for successfully realizing the world of Thor on the big screen. It has been stated around the Internet that Thor may have been the most difficult of Marvel’s major properties to port over for the masses what with all the magic and mythology involved. The world of Iron Man was established as a realistic, near-future boasting very believable, though still stereotypical, people. How would gods and a magic hammer fit in?
Well, if you make the gods an advanced alien race and make the hammer a hybrid of technology and mysticism, you’ll find that the world of Asgard works quite well in the established Marvel Movie Universe of Iron Man and Incredible Hulk. And Asgard doesn’t just work well, it looks amazing, too. The sequences in Asgard are the best in the film, filled with eye-candy and, in early scenes, a few cool easter eggs. I’ll note that here as well: easter eggs there are, but the constant barrage of Avengers set-up and fan service that was Iron Man 2 this is not. What little bit of set up for next year there happens to be (Hawkeye’s cameo, S.H.E.I.L.D., and the after credits coda) is welcome, but non-obtrusive. This means the whole film is devoted to cementing Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Asgard in our hearts.
See, about half the movie takes place in the heavenly/spacey realms of which Asgard is a part, and the other half is set on Earth. The problem with the Earth sequences are the lack of spectacle. I understand that there is a desert in New Mexico and deserts are kind of drab places by default, but this is supposed to be where Thor learns how not to be a dick. In the space of a weekend at most, Thor goes from kicking serious Frost Giant behind to falling in love(?) with a random astrophysicist (Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster) that can’t drive to pledging an alliance with Earth without ever so much as learning the names of any of its leaders to lecturing his brother (Tom Hiddleston as Loki) on the finer points of the value of life – which Thor was not so inclined to listen to himself not but two-and-half days earlier… And in all of that, the most exciting thing to happen on Earth is the Warriors Three being blown through a diner’s front window? I suppose that’s okay for the Warriors Three since they do nothing else in this movie, but that just makes the Destroyer sequence even more of a letdown.
However, don’t let my rant give you the wrong impression. As I stated earlier, Thor is a success. Not just at the box office, but as a film. Iron Man it is not, but it certainly has the legs to stand on its own and provide the ground work for a franchise. Most of this due to how wonderfully Asgard is presented. The rest has to be in the individual performances. Anthony Hopkins nails Odin, and his scenes with Hemsworth and Hiddleston are the highlights of the proceedings as the family tension is the driving force behind the narrative. Hiddleston becomes a Loki willing to do all the things you would expect Loki to do, though he lacks the flare I’m accustomed to seeing in the comics. This Loki a bit more interesting to me here though as there are some complications and grudges involved here, and I’ll admit I’m not too terribly versed in Thor’s Marvel mythology. Hemsworth is Thor, and Portman is cute. Marvel is doing a great job landing just the right big name stars for their films and in just the right number.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie. The Asgard scenes, especially the ones involving the brothers and their father, are the best parts of the film. Earth is a bit lack luster, but the humor and exposition are good. Like each Marvel film to date, the cinematography was well done, and what few real action sequences there are were presented very well – with the exception of the Destroyer attack which suffers from being set in a desert town.
Final score – 3.5/5