Posted on 5/25/11 07:03 PM
Long ago in the mythical kingdom of Asgard there lived a powerful but arrogant God by the name of Thor (from Old Norse Þórr), Thor is a God who lived for the glory, he lived for the fight, he lived for the the excitement and the pleasantry's that being the son of the king of all Asgard has brought him. But as fate may have it his arrogance and his lust for battle will ultimately lead to his downfall, on the day he is about to be crowned king of all Asgard, the vile frost giants of Jötunheimr have somehow slipped through the defenses and entered the Asgardian armory. In an attempt to steal back an ancient artifact, the Casket of Ancient Winters that once powered their ice covered home world of Jötunheimr. Out of anger and his unquenchable lust for battle, Thor disobeys his father's orders and with the help of his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), his childhood friend Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and The Warrior Three: Volstag (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (Joshua Dallas), and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) to take revenge on the frost giants for their treachery. But by doing so he has caused a rift between the two races which may erupt into a full on war between Asgard and the frost giants of Jötunheimr, for his insolence Odin(Anthony Hopkins) strips his son of all his powers and banishes him to the realm know as Earth so he may learn humility, kindness and honor. Little does Odin know that there is something evil brewing in the land of Asgard, something that will forever change the land of the Gods and the land of the mortals forever something that will cause an arrogant God to find the hero within and embrace his role as a hero of Earth and of Asgard? The hero we all know he is.
Kenneth Branagh's "Thor" is a glorious visual technical triumph, a stunning eye popping, hammer smashing spectacle that brims with Shakespearean gusto and comic book flare that leaps off the screen in a mix of sound and fury. It is with a heavy heart that I have to say that is where the appeal of this latest Marvel comic book blockbuster ends, "Thor" is an immensely appealing film and quite possibly one of the best looking action/fantasy adventures of the year. What it makes up with stunning visuals it lacks in character and depth it has no ebb no flow it's all just loud action sequences, lame one liners and dialogue that lampoon's Shakespeare's so baldy that it would make literary scholars cry. Now don't get me wrong, "Thor" is not inherently a bad film it just tries too hard to be good and it fails miserably at it. As I have said "Thor" is great to look at and it is great fun to watch as the story of an arrogant God getting his exactly what he deserves and learning a valuable lesson about the real meaning of being a God and the true meaning of power. Let me ask you this, what is the point if all there is is nothing more than just top-notch special effects and a few solid one-liners? A film is about story and characters it's about finding some kind of depth within the characters presented to you on screen, it's about the words a characters have to say. A film should have some kind of meaning to it more than just big, explosive, high tech action sequences and Shakespearean gusto and flare. What is the point? What is the point when everything you have worked for adds up to nothing more that a live action version of a bad animated film. "Thor" is profoundly silly and it has no shame in reveling in its all glorious silliness as it chugs along to its set up ending for "The Avengers" film slated for release summer of next year, in a film with this kind of talent (Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgård and Chris Hemsworth) should not be this bad if only this film had taken itself as seriously as its actors did.
One of the things that took me by surprise while I was watching "Thor" was how amazing the high level of detail and care was taken into designing the worlds of Asgard and the icy home world of the frost giants of Jötunheimr. Both worlds act as contrast to each other the world of the Gods, Asgard, is a beautiful utopia that resembles the architecture of Heaven described in The Holy Bible and the world of the frost giants, which obviously inspired by paintings, and descriptions of hell. There are some very minor biblical themes spread through out the story of "Thor", such as the look of the frost giants are based off that of demons and Laufey(Colm Feore), the king of the frost giants, has a strange resemblance to the devil with his blue skin, raspy voice and chilling presence. While The All-Father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) king of all Asgard has more of the mannerism of GOD himself in how he interacts with his people and disciplines his unruly son. Even though those biblical themes are presents in this languid superhero, film they are sadly the high points in the character's design and the design of the magnificent world that the special effects team has so gloriously crafted for this film. To see their hard work wasted on a production such as this is almost an insult to special effects teams everywhere and the abysmal screenplay by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz & Don Payne does nothing to strengthen the resolve of this film. In the scenes in Asgard we are introduced to his father, Odin, his mother Frigga(Rene Russo and the very likeable Warrior Three( Ray Stevenson , Joshua Dallas and the exquisite Jaimie Alexander). They introduce these fine characters and never give them anything to do or say they're just there to serve the film's plot and nothing more, and it is a real shame too because they are very likeable characters. "Thor" is a shamble of a film, a movie that has the style, the grace and the technical credits and strong cast to make it a slam bang, blockbuster summer fantasy/adventure it should be instead of the inadequate superhero film that it is.
Chris Hemsworth delivers sterling, rip snorting, and steal the show performance as the powerful God Thor. Hemsworth's performance as Thor is the key to the appeal of this film, without him this film would sadly fall apart at the seams by the finale he is the glue, the elastic in this films waistband without Hemsworth this film would be nothing more than a story about a God and his giant hammer of thunder. What I find most fascinating about his performance is how invested he is in it; he puts his heart and soul into this performance and makes the role his own. The way he spits out his words and bears his teeth at the screen gives him that fierce determination that he needs to make it in the cutthroat business know as Hollywood. Hemsworth emerges as a true talent amongst young actors who have gained fame because they have starred in a popular film series ( Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, just to name names) Hemsworth proves that he is a true star and a major new talent to watch. Let us just hope he makes better decisions than "Thor" in the future. The rest of the cast including Ray Stevenson, Joshua Dallas, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings turn in fine supporting performances in this rather dull superhero film.
"Thor" had the potential to be something more than just an entertaining film; it had the potential to be a truly great movie about the arrogance of man and the power of life. Instead this film decided to waste its potential and its stunning cast on illogical plot devices(an astrophysicist chasing storms?) dull action sequences(save for the fight with the destroyer) and a script that does nothing but serves the short attention spans of modern audiences. This film has a mesmerizing visual style and a story that should appeal to the kid in all of us instead of boring us to tears.