The plot was a little spare, even for a superhero flick. Most of the movie felt like a prologue to the actual movie, but then again they had to squish quite the epic origin saga into it and still turn out a decent flick. As it was they still cut out a decade or so of Dr Donald Blake. But if Thor only gets one more movie turn in The Avengers it’ll be a disappointment next to this excellent starter.
The only place the story really suffered was in the love department, which wasn’t the fault of either Chris Hemsworth as Thor or Natalie Portman as Jane Foster. Portman, fan-geek royalty already for her roles in Star Wars and V For Vendetta, especially played the infatuation well, but somewhere between the beginning and the climax they fell in love and no one bothered to tell the audience about it.
But the acting. This cast was wasted on the sparse script – bad Brannagh, bad! Hemsworth pulled off the cocky asshole to the tee, with just enough nobility to sell it. My countryman Colm Feore was unrecognisable as the king of the Frost Giants and Anthony Hopkins was suitably Shakespearean as Odin Allfather. My favourites to watch, however, were Eric Northman Sr, Stellan Skaarsgaard, and Kat Dennings of Nick and Norah as sceptics-turned-believed by the sheer force of Thor’s abs (and alcohol tolerance).
As usual, the script was littered with Marvel nods and in-jokes. S.H.I.E.L.D.’s agents mistake Asgardian tech for Stark Industries, Nick Fury makes some ominous phone calls, and Stan the Man gleefully does his required cameo. I swear, if after The Avengers they do a whole movie about Stan Lee as some kind of Fringean Observer, I would buy ten tickets to opening night. True geeks will also recognise the touch of J Michael Straczynski on the film. Not only does he get his five minutes of dialogue as the redneck who first finds Thor’s abandoned Mjolnir, he also co-wrote the story and is one of the lead writers on Marvel’s latest reboot of the Thor title. There are shadows of Babylon 5 and Jeremiah in the dialogue, story, and even some of the visuals.
Note to those going to see the movie in theatres: Try not to gasp and squeal “Great Maker!” when the credits roll. It’s generally frowned upon.
And of course veteran direct, actor, and Shakespeare aficionado Kenneth Brannagh keeps things epic but grounded. While there are a couple of scenes seemingly designed entirely for the lulz, the movie manages to balance solemnity with the inherent comedy of a guy walking around acting like a Norse god. Hemsworth’s goofy grin seals the deal.
All in all, I give Thor three and a half Mjolnirs out of five. A fun movie that its source material proud, but coasts on the knowledge that it is a prequel. Amazing cast, concept, and costumes stuck in a lacklustre plot. I only pray that there is an extended director’s cut coming. Preferably the length of Brannagh’s last Scandinavian epic, Hamlet.
Go see it. Excelsior!
What did you think of the movie? Are you looking forward to the continuing Avengers film saga, or are you ready for them to be over? Discuss!