Blonde Viking dude, big hammer, God of Thunder. What else do you need to know about this latest installment in the comic book superhero pantheon that Marvel and Paramount have been building, movie after movie, for years? Oh, and sprinkle in plenty of eye candy from the lovely Natalie Portman and you have a formula for a great film, right?
In fact, I was pretty disappointed by Thor and even top dramatic director Kenneth Branagh couldn’t fix the tedious narrative and never-ending cuts between events on Earth and events back on Asgard, a planet far, far away in the galaxy, except for the blink of an eye it took for Asgardians to zip from their planet to Earth via the Rainbow Bridge. Or did the Rainbow Bridge lead to the bifrost, the link to the planet of the Frost Giants?
To be fair, Chris Hemsworth does a decent job in the title role, but while the film might be true to the Norse mythology, Thor is such a whiney, selfish brat in the first half that we never connect with him, a weakness that happens with other characters in this curiously distant film. Jane (Natalie Portman), Erik (Stellan Skarsgard) and Darcy (Kat Dennings) are an unlikely trio of scientists who quite literally bump into Thor in the New Mexican desert. Instead of wise old Erik sharing the Norse myths of his childhood, however, we cut to a 20-minute sequence back on Asgard that explains Thor’s fall from grace, a segment that, like all the Asgard sequences, seemed like it’d be more at home as a cut sequence in a video game. In fact, we’re so accustomed to fancy CG that I was frankly bored by the remote landscapes of the planet Jotunheim, the Frost Giants themselves, and the shiny look-we-have-reflections CG world of Asgard.
There’s a great coming-of age story embodied in the Thor mythology, of a self-centered prince being banished for defying the King, just to have his sneaky, malevolent brother Loki (played with insufficient malevolence by Tom Hiddleston) conspired to take the throne. Things go awry, as they often do, and Thor must quickly grow up and defend us puny humans against the evils of the Other Realms. Unfortunately, what we have with Thor is a film that feels like an overly literal adaptation of a graphic novel.
I was disappointed and bored. I didn’t particularly like Hemsworth, thought Portman was completely unbelievable as a scientist of any sort, let alone a driven, offbeat one, and didn’t see any chemistry between them on screen that would explain why Thor later pined for her as the film ended. Oh well. Still, Thor is another step on the road to the big Avengers movie, and for that alone, I can forgive everything.
Looks like our friends over at ComicBook.com agree. Be sure to check out their review as well.