After searching for a theater with a 2-D showing of Thor, we watched what turned out to be a very enjoyable movie. Melisa surprised me by saying she too liked it.
Let me preface the rest of this write-up by saying I am not familiar with the comics, so I did not know what to expect from this movie. I knew he was to be a superhero, joining other superheroes at a later time in what is to be the Justice League (Edited to correct: I meant The Avengers. The Justice League is from another franchise. Again, outside my sphere of knowledge). I knew a little from actual Norse mythology, but of course that did not fit into a modern retelling other for the use of the names.
The set-up was nicely handled, given the audience (and me) the necessary knowledge to establish the Thor universe, and it segued effortlessly into the development of the characters as the plot unfolded. Overall it was an enjoyable ride.
Still, there were some minor quibbles (this is, after all, me writing). Odin’s battle with the Frost Giants was said to have taken place in 900AD Earth time, and at that time Thor was still a child, and hence not involved in the fray. Yet, half-way through the movie one of the human protagonists gets a book showing a depiction of both Thor and his Hammer.
The Asgardian warriors returned to their realm, and did not visit Earth again, so how could Thor be known, and become part of the mythology? How would humans have been able to guess what he looked like? Plus, presuming the book was about Norse mythology, it would be in conflict with events in the movie.
I would have been happy if the humans had been ignorant of Thor, his Hammer, and if they would have cut that scene. I say that because the humans seemed both knowledgeable and ignorant with regards to the Asgardian heir to the throne, and I would have preferred one or the other.
The other slightly annoying part was the heavy-handedness with which the writers and director presented Loki as the bad guy. You would have to be a moron not to see through Loki’s transparent words and actions. Fine for making the audience feel smart, but not so fine for the other characters from Asgard. My opinion of them is rather low, as they seemed to be little more than show puppets. Yes, full of honor, good intentions, and living life large, but really, not big in the astute department.
And that ties in with the only weakness of the movie; the supporting characters. I thought Chris Hemsworth carried the film, and he had to. He conveyed the presence of a character that is larger than life, whereas the others were, by comparison, mere trappings. Odin, played by Hopkins, came close to living up to the image, but he too fell short. The characterization of Thor’s warrior friends was so shallow, as to leave me nothing to wade into. I mentioned Loki above, and that leaves the Earth-side characters, which were particularly unimpressive.
Initially I attributed this to writing and directing, and in part it’s understandable. The movie is called Thor, not Thor and Friends. Even so, Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Jane Foster, Thor’s love interest, presented as vapid a heroine as Dunst’s Mary Jane, and just marginally better than Paltrow’s Pepper Potts. To be fair, there’s only one Portman role I’ve liked, that of Mathilda in Leon, The Professional. In everything since she brought the same flat characterization as we see in Thor. To that end, she does not come across as a force of nature worthy of Thor’s love.
But this may be due to Hemsworth’s portrayal of Thor. I was impressed with the range of his performance in the movie, reflecting the growth of a brat into a man, and maybe some of my criticism of the other characters is due to the disparity in the performances between the lead and the other actors, and not solely to writing and directing of said characters.
But those are all minor points. I liked the movie, and I will own it when it comes out. The effects and visuals were outstanding, and the plot certainly offered up a better superhero story than I’m used to seeing. As I said, I don’t know if this followed the comics, so I don’t know if the praise should go to the scriptwriters, the comic writers, or a combination of both, but the result is I found yet another candidate to add to my small collection of movies that merit multiple viewings.