Never have super heroes and action figures been larger than life than in recent years at the box office. Some of them I’ve seen, others really don’t interest me and others still I really want to see but have as yet to rent. Don’t ask me how, why or when an interest in this came about, but ever since its media hype, I’ve been intrigued by it. As usual, I feel like I am the “last” person who has yet to see it, but nevertheless, I am still going to insist you all read about my thoughts – just kidding. *grin*
Ancient history cloaks the fated battle between the Norse gods and their immortal enemy, the Frost Giants in sworn secrecy. The Frost Giant's army took over the multitude of lands and murdered hundreds of innocent people – mere mortals. The King of Asgard, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) along with his mighty army saw that the Frost Giants were never a threat to mankind again by driving them back into their own world, and removing the power that drove them. Odin’s two young sons grow up knowing one day one of them will be king, but from their father’s perspective the crown will fall to the son who will rule with the most wisdom. Now, years later, Odin is preparing to pass his throne onto the god of thunder, his eldest son Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Thor is the cocky son, the one who is ready to charge into battle at a moment’s notice. When his coronation is thwarted by a rebel few Frost Giants, Thor is ready to declare war, but his father forbids it knowing it will shatter the delicate balance he struck with the near extinct tribe leader. Disregarding his father, Thor rallies his tight knit circle of warrior friends and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and wages a small war against the enemy. Arriving in the knick of time, Odin saves the young warriors… and then banishes Thor to earth and strips him of his powers, never to allow him entrance again... unless he becomes worthy of his title.
Thor awakens in man's world in a remote field on the edge of a small New Mexico town. What’s more he quite literally collides with a team of dedicated scientists doing research. The trio is led by the driven and dedicated Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) who knows she is on the verge of breaking through to something big. She flew in her mentor Eric Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and is assisted by college student Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) - a political science major who was the only applicant. When Thor falls into their hands, she is sure he is an answer to all her questions, but his claims that he has an other-worldly power and lives in another realm keeps Jane at arms length… unaware that a battle is about to be unleashed right on her front doorstep.
To be upfront, I really enjoyed this movie… and having said that, it is a bit silly. Since I kind of expected that it didn’t affect my viewing experience and isn’t that what super hero movies are anyway!? – the silly costumes, the constant special effects, the cool gadgets and powers (if it weren’t so, we might all be a little disappointed). The first fifteen minutes of the movie, and again the last fifteen or twenty is a little corny because of its special effects. In all other regards, the movie is actually an impressive piece of cinema. The acting is good and the story is decent, I just wish they’d plotted it a bit better. It clocks in at close to two hours, so it isn’t that it is lacking in screen-time, but still so many of the gestures and/or emotions felt a bit too fake. From Thor’s perspective, I can accept his being enchanted with Jane because that is the kind of world he came from, but seriously, is Jane going to be so smitten with him after two days? On the other hand, I thought the two scenes that threw them together were well-written and sweet. Basically, in the end everything came down way too quickly. We wanted to be thrilled with its ending and it is exciting (in a Terminator-like way - sorry, guys, those movies look… well… too silly), but it might be construed as something of a let-down when we realize the entire movie built itself around this one face-off. In that regard, I think the movie could have been staged differently or written to a better end. The script has “just enough” humor not to be thought cheeky but as regards the plot involving two very different brothers, nothing is spun differently.
Thor has a magnificent score, marvelous camera-work and angles, and the set is magical – especially as regards Asgard. Unlike The Clash of the Titans, this isn’t a film that has a Christian parallel, or I didn’t see it, but the movie is one of the most entertaining I’ve seen in a good long while. The only distinction that can be made to Christianity is the two very different worlds - one above the clouds, the other below ground; one paved with gold, the other a dark, dingy world of misery. Such things won't alter my view of truth vs. fiction, and I can definitely see myself watching this on multiple occasions and am among the thousands of people who think it will be way cool to see four superheroes sharing screen-time in next summers highly-anticipated Avengers. He may have started out with selfish motives, but Thor ends up a noble hero worth cheering for. For those of you already familiar with Marvel, you’ll smile at the reference to Tony Stark and maybe even pick up on things that I missed (because I am most definitely not a Marvel know-it-all). Basically, Thor follows tradition where sci-fi superhero flicks are concerned, but I’ve a feeling this will be one of my favorite summer blockbusters from the year. I admired its reflective, somewhat “brave” ending and will look forward to Thor’s triumphant return in The Avengers and, eventually in Thor 2. Until then, make sure you catch the origins of his story here – and don’t forget to let the credits roll for a one-minute scene setting up The Avengers.
(PG13 Cautions: several warriors are impaled with spears. The one battle scene isn’t all that graphic; various hand-to-hand combat scenes are interspersed through the movie. Nearer the end a man is killed by a giant metal dude as are various cars flipped and flung through the air. Profanity is basically non-existent, but there are likely a few scattered in the script. Darcy and Jane check out Thor’s “hot” physique while he changes his shirt.)