As I think I successfully established in my Green Hornet review, I’m a big fan of Superhero movies. More than that though, I’m a fan of Marvel Superhero movies.
I must admit, I’m not much of a comic-book reader, so my interest in them is mainly down to the concept of the Marvel/DC Universe, the colourful characters and their translation into films.
Despite that though, I think I’ve managed to pick up on the origins of most of the main Marvel characters. Spiderman was bitten by a radioactive spider, the Fantastic Four were involved in a cosmic ray accident in space, Bruce Banner became the Incredible Hulk because of a Gamma Ray explosion in his lab, and the spirit of Thor came about when the disabled Dr. Donald Blake found his hammer in a cave in Norway.
And in each of the Marvel films, the origins have been accurately reflected in the film.
But not in Thor. Donald Blake doesn’t appear at all in this film, and instead Thor himself is banished to Earth where he lives as Thor.
To me, that seemed quite a contentious issue, but did it harm the overall feel of the film?
Plot (As Spoiler Free as Possible)
Without ruining the film, Thor (played by Australian Hoss, Chris Hemsworth) is set to be crowned King of Asgard in place of his retiring father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). But before the coronation can be completed, Asgard is attacked by the Frost Giants of Jutenheim, with whom there had previously been an uneasy peace.
Before the coronation can resume, Thor leads a party of warriors (including his soon-to-be-villainous brother Loki) to Jutenheim to exact revenge upon the Frost Giants. This doesn’t go to plan though, and Odin has to intervene. He’s also royally pissed of with Thor because he’d previously told him not to go. Believing him not to be mature enough to be crowned King, Odin banished Thor to Earth to live as a mortal, and sends his magic hammer (and source of his power) –
Mjolnir – there as well, with the instruction that only the one who is fit to be King shall be able to pick it up. A bit like the Sword in the Stone if you like.
On Earth, Thor meets up with a team of three scientists – led by Natalie Portman – who have been examining the rift in space that the people of Asgard have been using to get to there. They seem bemused by Thor, who openly discusses who he is and what he is doing on Earth. When they all hear of the immovable hammer stuck out in the desert, they go there to try and extract it, but by that point, S.H.E.I.L.D. have cordoned off the area. Despite that, Thor manages to break in but cannot extract Mjolnir from the ground.
Meanwhile on Asgard, Loki (for reasons which I won’t spoil) has turned on Odin and forcibly taken over as King. And he’s not willing to let Thor’s banishment end, nor will he let Thor’s warrior friends go to Earth to help him.
But they do, and so Loki sends The Destroyer – a seemingly indestructible automaton – to Earth to destroy everything.
It won’t come as much of a surprise to find that just at the point where all hope looks lost, Thor manages to take back Mjolnir and save the day, culminating in a showdown with Loki in Asgard (including a twist that I won’t spoil),
When I watched the film and when I see the plot written down, what comes to mind is that there isn’t that much to this film. It’s basically a plot of Thor gets banished, fights a big robot and then goes home.
But that’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable.
In the absence of a plot, two things come to the fore.
The first is the humour. For the ‘middle act’ of the film when Thor gets to Earth, there are some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments involving his new-found mortality (he thinks he’s invincible when he’s not) and his ‘foreigner abroad’ attitude to how things work.
The second thing is the special effects. I wouldn’t be indulging in hyperbole if I said this is one of the most visually impressive films I’ve ever seen. Everything on Asgard looks spectacular and it’s just amazing to think this sort of thing is possible now. In particular, the realisation of Bifröst Bridge (the Rainbow bridge from Norse Mythology that connects Asgard with the gateway to Earth) is absolutely incredible. Unlike my other reviews, I don’t have screen-caps available to show you, but I have included some concept art. Even that doesn’t do it justice though.
Really though, that’s it. That’s what makes the film.
The biggest problem with it is that it seems to be a continuation of the theme of setting up the Avengers movie. S.H.I.E.L.D. plays a heavy part in the Earth parts of the story, but there’s an assumed knowledge of the events of the two Iron Man films that preceded it. I’ve seen those films so I knew what was going on. If I hadn’t seen them, I don’t think there would be enough information for me to fully appreciate and understand their involvement.
And also, because the film does seem to exist to set up the Avengers, it doesn’t have a satisfying conclusion. It’s a bit like the end of Empire Strikes Back. That had an inconclusive ending, but because you knew that Return of the Jedi was coming, it wasn’t that bad. With Thor though, it felt like it just cut off. His romance storyline with Natalie Portman was rushed through and didn’t culminate in anything, but I suspect we’re supposed to believe it will in the Avengers.
The problem there is that the Avengers isn’t about Thor – he’s just a small part of it, so it’s not like it’s a sequel.
What it felt like was a ‘webisode’ of a TV show. Something to bridge the gap between the end of one series and the start of another. And it shouldn’t have. It should have been a film about Thor and his origins. Yes, leave the door open for his return, but at least be conclusive in the film called Thor about Thor. But sadly it wasn’t, and that was disappointing.
Even then though, as I detail above, they don’t actually deal with Thor’s origins properly. Having read an interview with Kenneth Brannagh (the director) he felt like it would make the film a bit too complicated. He might have a point, but it’s not as if there was that much to it anyway, and by missing that information out it isn’t like an ‘origin’ story at all.
Similarly disappointing was Marvel’s insistence of including yet another Post-Credits scene. These are a pet hate of mine because waiting for the credits to end is something that will annoy the people who have paid to see the film. Nobody cares who the Second Grip to the Best Boy’s Wardrobe Assistant’s Gaffer is. Plus, you only know about them if someone has told you about it going in. And even then, it’s not enough, because I know someone who went to the film, sat through the end credits in the hope of seeing a post credits scene since he missed one in a previous Marvel film and yet he still missed this one because the lights came up and the credits finished with THOR flashing up on screen.
Bottom line is – put the fucking scene on at the end of the film, or if you have to have a post credits sequence, make it a bridging scene between the cast credits and the crew credits like some films do.
My final complaint about the film is the 3D. Don’t get me wrong, because it was filmed in 3D, it did look very good. It wasn’t reliant upon gimmickry like throwing the hammer at the screen like it’s coming towards you or anything like that. It just looked 3D.
While that’s all well and good, it’s a bonus that brings nothing of real significance to the viewing experience and yet it costs more. On top of the glasses you have to buy (unless you’re thrifty and have kept an old pair) you’re paying an extra 20-40% on top of the normal admission ticket just to see it.
My advice; stick to the 2D version. I don’t think it will make any difference overall. It’ll still look great.
I’ll try and be positive here.
Despite the flaws that I have pointed out, I still enjoyed Thor. It wasn’t too long, it made me laugh, the acting was decent, it kept my attention and it looked spectacular.
It’s just that it seemed to be an advert for The Avengers first and foremost, and you got the feeling coming away from it that you’d have to come back and see that film to find out the rest of Thor’s story. So basically, the film didn’t feel complete.
As I say though, it’s not a bad film and it’s worth seeing for how good it looks, and you should certainly look it out if you’ve seen either of the two Iron Man films.
Unfortunately though, it wasn’t as good as either of those films.
Oh and remember, if you are going to go, save yourself the money and see it in 2D.