Review: Thunder of “Thor” is good, not earth shaking

May 6th, 2011 at 12:50 am by under Entertainment

“Thor” is not the easiest comicbook character to transcribe to the big screen… and that’s why some moviegoers will want to wait to rent this one… and others could make it a date movie.

If this is a movie you’ve been eager to see since the reference to Thor’s hammer at the end of “Iron Man 2″… then by all means go out and see it… maybe even in IMAX 3D.   And if you and your significant other are both interested, there’s just enough action and romance to keep both men and women interested.

But for the less die hard fans or average moviegoers, set this one aside as a good rental, or required viewing in preparation for “The Avengers” before its release in May 2012.

ATTENTION MARVEL FANS: If you see “Thor” its worth your while to stay through the credits… because of the scene at the end of the credits with a certain SHIELD agent really sets up “The Avengers” movie coming next year.

 (My spoiler-free review)

Its important to point out that bringing the character of Thor and his backstory and home to the big screen is quite a challenge for the filmmakers… and the modern audience.

Previous entries by Marvel Studios or other companies making movies about  superhero characters – whether it was the 2006 reboot of ”Superman Returns” or 2004′s “The Punisher” - had one big advantage of making their character watchable on the big screen – just set them in the modern world.

Director Kenneth Branagh doesn’t have that luxury, his title character is from another “realm” – like a different universe, but slightly more complicated.  His hero is called the God of Thunder – a Norse God – an immortal.   Thankfully, Branagh didn’t just make it a fish out of water kind of story – he embraced the fact that he had to tell the backstory of a superhero that comes from another world (Asgard) and is banished to live on Earth.  That shouldn’t be a spoiler if you’ve seen any trailers or know anything about Thor.  Also lucky for the audience, we don’t get a backstory like “Superman” where he’s a baby raised on Earth and has superpowers.  He’s a young man that has issues with his father Odin (played powerfully by oscar winner Anthony Hopkins) that ends up on modern day Earth.

Branagh blends Olde English style of Asgard dialogue with words and phrases similiar to the Shakespearean influenced movies of his past and drops it into modern dialogue when on Earth.  Its one of many ways he tried to keep the traditions of Asgard but make it digestable for the modern audience, especially for the average moviegoer.

The rainbow bridge, the bifrost, Thor’s hammer mjolnir (myol-neer), and his traditional outfit in Asgard are nice elements that those who know the Asgard story will enjoy.

The costumes and set pieces look really good – capturing the visual spectacle of the realm and the rainbow bridge.  Unfortunately, many of the early scenes are all happening in this otherworldy place that may be confusing for some of the audience.  The good move is that Branagh establishes the connection between Earth and Asgard early and tries to explain (although not too overtly ”dumbing it down” that could be insulting to die hard fans).

The filmmakers also add some very human elements in the movie that people who are not Norse Gods of Thunder can relate to – Ipods and Laptops and cars and tasers.  The last two add several of many moments of comic relief that the Marvel Studios’ movies (like “Iron Man”) have been good at adding in without overdoing it.

We also have the very relatable characters of Jane (Natalie Portman), Eric (Stellan Skarsgård), and Darcy (Kat Dennings) who find Thor as they deal with this very strange phenomenon.  Branagh also works to make the story more approachable as townies gather to try to pull the hammer out of ground, making it an event with trucks and a barbeque.  Later a character looks at a fairytale book of Norse legends – bridging the gap once more between Thor/Asgard/Bifrost and reality.

In addition to the visual elements, die hard fans will enjoy that this movie does justice to the character of Loki and the references to SHIELD, and the upcoming “The Avengers” with an appearance from Hawkeye (a brilliant casting move that is subtle, but enough to catch even the least knowledgeable viewer’s attention).

This story, although it could lose parts of the audience at times, does entertain and we do get one of my most important things – character development.  Both Thor and his brother (played very well by Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston) progress through this movie to the level that the die hard fans wants leading into the next movie. 

I am curious to hear about how die hard fans feel about some of the creative liberties taken in this story, I wan’t bothered by the explaining of “immortality” and the connection between Earth and Asgard, but I’m not as conservative with the story like I was bothered with some of the creative liberties taken in “Wolverine” (2009). with the X-men characters and storyline.

Some of the action and some of the acting involving Thor’s warrior friends Volstagg, Hogun, Fandral, and Sif may be over-the-top and borderline campy, but its not enough to bring down the whole movie.

THE BOTTOM LINE: 

“Thor” is enjoyable and entertaining, but not in the same class as superhero classics “The Dark Knight”,  ”X-Men”, or “Iron Man”.  It establishes the character and world of Thor and sets up well for sequel – “The Avengers” (May 4, 2012), but the realms of Asgard/Jotunheim/Earth may be hard to digest for all viewers… but I think its still watchable anyway I give it 7.9 out of 10.

“Thor”

(2011) (rated: PG-13)
(1 hr, 55 min)

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings, Clark Gregg, Idris Elba, Colm Feore, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Josh Dallas, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo,
Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner

Director: Kenneth Branagh  ["Hamlet" (1996), "Frankenstein" (1994), "Henry V" (1989)]

Genre: Action/Comicbook/Supehero/Sci-Fi

The Plot: The powerful but arrogant warrior Thor is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard and sent to live
amongst humans on Earth, where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.

So what did you think?  Please post a comment!

.
“Thor” poster courtesy Paramount Pictures

Laff at the Movies

 ** CLICK HERE FOR MORE THAN 100 MOVIE REVIEWS **

Follow my updates on twitter: http://twitter.com/aaronlafferty
Check out my YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/user/LaffattheMovies

Add me to your RSS feed: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/woodtv8-blogs-laff-at-the-movies?format=html

My Top Movies of the 2000s: http://blogs.woodtv.com/2010/01/08/best-of-00s-my-favorite-movies-of-the-decade/

My votes on IMDB:
http://www.imdb.com/mymovies/list?l=43558226&s=uservote&s=reverse_uservote

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply