The summer movie season is finally underway and Thor is a worthy jumpoff. It’s an entertaining popcorn flick, bookended by some absolutely fantastic action sequences in Asgard and weighed down regrettably by a “Thor loses his powers and then gets them back” storyline in the middle. It’s not enough to ruin the film though, as the situation is played for laughs pretty well.
It really is a tale of two movies. The bits in Asgard are amazing: the costuming is great and the visual effects are terrific. The battle sequences are everything you could hope for. My only gripe is Loki’s emo whingeing. The bits on Earth, though, are just wacky/boring. SHIELD is a prominent player in the film and, just like in the Iron Man movies, they’re a pratfall short of being straight bumbling, instead of the most elite intelligence gathering and threat response organization in the world. And half the movie is spent watching a powerless Thor stride around learning life lessons, which is not what I signed up for; I want to see him smash shit in the face. They do squeeze a lot of laughs out the portion of the movie that takes place on Earth, but at the expense of making all the characters seem pretty silly.
The lack of a genuine bad guy is an issue in the movie as well, as there’s no one to really root against. Loki is the villian, but he’s fuelled by jealousy of Thor and the desire to win the approval of his Dad; which is not something you really bodyslam a guy over, just send him to therapy. Plus this dude is supposed to be the God of Trickery but, aside from one extraordinarily dangerous prank, mostly what he does in the movie is fight back tears and feel sorry for himself and sometimes yell at people. He reminded me of Joaquin Phoenix’s villian in Gladiator, in that I wanted to shake the shit out of him.
I haven’t mentioned the other characters yet because it’s a popcorn movie so the characters are almost expected to be flat. These guys are no exception. Skaarsgard is textbook fatherly and mainly a vehicle for exposition, Natalie Portman and Kat Denning’s characters are mousy-librarian hot but fairly useless, not having a lot of time to do anything between swooning over Thor and throwing science tantrums when Skarsgaard or SHIELD tells them their theories are rubbish. Slightly less useless are Thor’s trio of sidekicks. Actually, they’re pretty bad ass in the beginning of the movie but that badassery peters out at the end.
There were a lot of fun moments in the movie aside from the Asgard action, although I can’t mention most of them without ruining the fun. While the credits roll they play a scene that’s just the camera zipping through the cosmos, which pretty breathtaking in 3D. The cameo by Clint Barton (Hawkeye, who’ll be returning as a member of the Avengers) was great. And stick around for a short scene after the credits that teases the Avengers movie.
All in all, the movie overcomes its pedestrian plot and flat characters to be pretty enjoyable, if you’re like me and enjoy a good action flick. It also got me incredibly pumped for the Avenger movie next year.
Suspend Abandon your disbelief, sneak in your snack of choice (for me, jellybeans) and enjoy the show.