In the lead up to 2012‘s ‘The Avengers’ movie: Marvel studios has set out to establish the backstories or origins of the team that will consist of ‘Iron Man’, ‘Hulk’, ‘Captain America’ and ‘Thor’. We’ve already had two of them (‘Iron Man’ and ‘Hulk’) with ‘Captain America’ around the corner in July.‘Thor’ establishes itself as another tie-in for ‘The Avengers’ movie. Unlike ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Hulk’; it fails to serve as a movie of its own.
The film, directed by Kenneth Branagh, tries to be a superhero film about an Asgardian Prince; with high flying action and over-the-top visual effects. What results is a two hour long endurance run where the action becomes mundane and characters bark at one another for reasons in which we either don’t know of or don’t care about.
Very little is understood about the characters or what the stakes are. The film throttles along scene by scene explaining the mechanics of Asgard and how Thor must learn the values of humility and patience but never explaining what the dangers are to us humans on Earth. Thor resides in his home on Asgard, a mythical land far beyond the stars (excuse the pun) while we’re stuck on Earth. So how do we relate to something that is so far and disconnected as a God? Thor just proves that high-flying action and visuals alone are not enough to make a film.
First I’d like to say that I haven’t read ‘Thor’ comics; but I’ve been aware of it for a while. In my early teens I used to read comic books – and out of ‘The Avengers’ crew I gravitated towards ‘Captain America’ and ‘Iron Man’. ‘Thor’ seemed a bit out there, even for a comic book – but he was appreciable and from my understanding it was a unique and awesome series.
looking at Marvel’s recent track record with movies: ‘Thor’ seemed like a sure hit: ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Hulk’ were great – and I liked ‘Iron Man 2’…even considering that film’s insistence on building up to an ‘Avengers’ film.
Amongst a shit ton of reasons; the main issue with ‘THOR’ is that it is nothing but a bridging picture to introduce ‘Thor’ to audiences – so that he can be in ‘The Avengers’. It does nothing else beyond this: there is no drama; zero characters and worst of all Kenneth Branagh loses all sense of pacing and how to stage a simple sequence.
An inordinate amount of time is spent with characters yelling at each other: “This is madness!”; “you are nothing but a fool!” – the furthest that Branagh goes with the characters is to have them state exactly what they are feeling: “I now have humility” – there is no progression of character; the film just limps from scene to scene.
You become aware of an awful script in any film when nothing is shown to you through visuals: where every feeling and emotion is just said to you with no organic reason: When Thor undergoes his big “transformation” it isn’t shown as much as it is told.
I’m not too familiar with the comics myself either, though I do remember watching quite a bit of the 1980’s cartoon series. What strikes me as astounding about this film is how each scene drags from place to place with no real sense of purpose: The lack of proper stakes is only part of the problem.
There is very little conflict that takes place, and the conflict that matters does not impact the characters on Earth. What occurs between the Asgardian’s and the Frost Giants is completely irrelevant because whatever the outcome, Earth still remains unaffected. Yes, you could presume that: should Thor be destroyed; Earth would be placed in jeopardy.
But when you have a robot that’s five stories high that can destroy anything in its path, humans become irrelevant. Add that the character of Thor is written as a God, and we’ve learned from reading comics that superheroes as big as Thor never truly die.
Despite the fact that this is a film about a superhero, let alone a God of Thunder, there always needs to be the connection that us as humans can make to someone like Thor. In the case of Kenneth Branagh’s film, we’re supposed to relate with Thor through Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). But Jane herself doesn’t really understand or connect with Thor as her main purpose and goal is to satisfy her own scientific curiosity.
Telling is all the film does. Endless scenes of excessive exposition attempt to explain these magical gods as something scientific. Endless pseudo scientific information that serves no purpose but to ‘force’ Thor into a reality.
It’s like every decision made during production was based on whether or not ‘Thor’ could fit into the established reality that Marvel set up with ‘Iron Man’. It is such a crock; that the movie has to begin with a ten minute voice over by Antony Hopkins to explain the history of Asgard et al. So poor is the construction that scenes begin with phrases like “Tell me more about where you came from?” or “Now you’re ready to know about me” and for fuck’s sake one of the first lines spoken in the whole damn film is “Where did he come from?”. Show don’t tell.
Thor’ is two films in one: The first focuses on Thor being banished to Earth; and the second is set in Asgard; dealing with Thor’s jealous ‘brother:’ Loki. Who is trying to figure out a way to become the future king. To do this he has to take care of their father Odin (Antony Hopkins) and also deal with the threat of another race.
It’s all Shakespearean and that’s the most obvious reason as to why Branagh was hired. The studio should have known better. Branagh renowned for Shakespeare adaptations (‘Hamlet’ and ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ for example) is just as well know for mangling Shakespeare. He is also known for taking the supposed excellent script for ‘Frankenstein’ and turing it into a shit fest.
I was concerned with Branagh because of his “theatrical” direction. When directing theater it is natural to create over the top performances because it’s in an auditorium and the people in the back row have to hear the dialogue as well. But when you have a camera close up in an actor’s face this becomes nothing but melodrama. And in ‘Thor’ he allows every actor to ham it up – it goes to the nth degree here – with everyone just shouting terrible dialogue and growling and all that crap. It is far from subtle. On top of all this; Branagh is intent on shooting the ENTIRE FILM in tilted dutch angles and wild camera moves. It not only distracts from the over the top acting; but from every single other aspect. It’s a fucking mess: I cannot stress this enough. He even jams the most unfortunate humor into the movie: Kat Dennings playing Darcy. She serves no purpose but to play comedic relief, and every one liner she has (of which there are many) falls flat – I was reminded of Jar Jar Binks every time she was on screen…
‘Thor’ was never really a comic series that I delved into but I felt as though I knew enough about it to understand who Thor, Odin and the Frost Giants were at least. I walked into this film hoping that I might not only be entertained but that I would also be educated in the more minute areas and details of the mythology.
Yes, me too. Exactly.
The film disappointed me in that respect. The film churns out these ideas about Asgard, as existing as a part of a network of worlds, in which Thor and his Asgardian company can travel to using some gateway but it never explains who Thor’s companions are.
It’s all very ‘Stargate’. They don’t even try to make sense of anything. It just is. And we learn nothing about Thor’s family and friends. Like the team of three that come to Earth to help him. Lady Sif.
We never learn the proper nature of the Warriors of Three, not even Lady Sif…nor of their connection with Thor. In fact, most of what we learn about them can be explained through a line an extra in the film has “There goes Xena, Robin Hood…”, the rest escapes me.
It’s indicative of the whole film. A character or a piece will be set up; then not be mentioned again. Branagh and Company just focus on whatever the individual scene demands and we wonder why the film crumbles as a whole. Even the most obvious choices aren’t made: Thor is known for wielding the Hammer: “Mjolnir” – and yes Kat Denning’s can’t pronounce it – we get one or two scenes where the hammer is used. It’s not only wasted opportunity; it’s just laziness.
Yes, Thor’s hammer Mjolnir. It’s a legendary weapon that is explained to have been forged within a star. During the first act of the film, the full potential and power of the hammer is unleashed as Thor twirls and throws it around; knocking down frost giants left and right. Every action sequence after that that includes Mjolnir is incredibly underwhelming and mundane as its power almost appears to have been dubbed down.
Yeah. In the climactic action scene it’s used as nothing but a plain hammer paper weight. Boring. But saying this I liked the climax. The action in ‘Thor’ is generally very good, it is just underwhelming and misses these very glaring opportunities.
I agree, and I’ll say that there were more than one or two interesting shots in the film. The huge one being the main reveal of Asgard where the camera travels across lightyears and rotates upside down to reveal Asgard. Beyond that, most shots were either incredibly uninspired or distracting. It is surprising that the post-conversion 3D worked rather nicely in this film though there weren’t that many shots that required it.
The 3D was good. I didn’t notice it that much.
Watching the film in 2D would have made little difference, as the film’s lack of subtlety and its abundance of strange framing would have made the film too distracting to even bother.
The film is incredibly over the top in terms of its action. Debris flies everywhere and when there’s an explosion, it’s usually followed by another explosion. There’s an interesting point in a review by Drew McWeeney where he explains that an average 10 year old would enjoy a film such as ‘Thor’ very much.
I don’t agree with that at all. I think kids are smarter these days. If they’re old enough to enjoy ‘Indiana Jones’ or ‘Transformers’ then they can enjoy ‘Thor’. And as for the real young kids, if all they enjoy is pretty colours: then does bad dialogue and acting really make a difference? If anything ‘Thor’ would confuse children because of its sloppiness and unintentional ambiguity.
All they would understand is the action. After all it’s basically Shakespeare when the movie is in Asgard – and if you’re ten year old kid loves Shakespeare then congratulations. Kids and Adults enjoy movies; it does not mean that you can give a pass to shitty movies because kids would like them. It’s such a nerd thing to do: see the ‘Star Wars Prequels’ and ‘Batman And Robin’ for examples of this.
I agree with the notion, but only to a certain extent. In this day and age where kids are exposed to cartoons such as ‘Ben 10’ and ‘Sym-bionic Titan’, most of the action would be rather enjoyable but the level of violence within the film is probably more than a 10 year old could handle. Nevertheless, I digress: The film feel much closer to a ‘Power Rangers’ film with higher production values and we’ll leave it at that.
Yes, on more than one occasion ‘Power Rangers’ came to mind. It’s all so mind numbing in its pointlessness.
And then there’s the humans in the film; who literally have no real purpose. They act as spectators for some cosmic battle, and that’s it. Darcy, played by Kat Dennings exists as the comic relief, while Eric (Stellan Skarsgard), is the mentor figure; guiding light into Jane Foster’s journey- if you could call it that.
Darcy occasionally throws out witty lines that are just plain annoying and incredibly unfunny. If you’ve seen the trailer and seen some of her lines, that is the extent to which her intellect is portrayed throughout the film. Even at the most dire of times; Darcy still manages to insert some remarks. Eric’s character is no real different. As the so-called mentor, Eric tries to talk Jane out of the situation and though he is incredibly persistent, he still falls into the trap of helping her out.
Every scene Natalie Portman is in takes place on Earth and it’s these scenes that are so integral to the film working. Branagh stuffs all of these scenes up: then the whole movie falls on its ass.
So little time is spent with any of the characters, even Jane who is meant to be the primary love interest gets maybe twenty minutes total.
‘Iron Man’, ‘Hulk’, ‘Spider-man’ - all of those flicks work because the main characters are Human; or they once were. It allows the viewer to connect with what is going on. It creates a window into which we can see a perspective.
Because our main character ‘Thor’ is a God – he is initially un-relatable. A being who grows up in a world so alien to any viewer. Because of the source material -and maybe ‘Thor’ is the best adaptation possible – The film has to hinge on how the human characters react and view Thor, Loki and Odin.
The human characters; Instead of coming to understand Thor (besides nodding when he goes on a massive exposition monologue) need to connect with him. Instead of anything resembling motivation or development the characters just crack stupid jokes like “this one is for Facebook”…at one point a character realizes that Thor is in fact a God and exclaims: “Oh my….God?” It does not pass for humor and it’s embarrassing. The movie is just wrecked by focusing on the crap that doesn’t matter.
As for the performers Stellen Skarsgard, Kat Dennings and Natalie Portman are completely wasted – to the point that half way into the movie Branagh and the writers forget about them. They disappear from the whole movie for a good forty minutes. You see; they are not worth the films time; none of them will appear in the ‘Avengers’ so who gives a shit- they only exist to listen to Thor’s exposition and to act as a crappy love interest.
Branagh focuses on Hemsworth’s “cut” body so often that we don’t need shots of Portman and Dennings staring at it and saying crap like “oh he’s so cut”. And on this note, Kat Dennings and Natalie Portman stay 100% covered up the entire movie; while Hemsworth walks around half naked the whole time. It’s just like they were doing it on purpose; just finding every single reason they could to piss off the audience – and lets be honest guys; the audience is %97 dudes. The core audience is men, and what we get is Shakespeare and a dude walking around with no clothes.
‘Iron Man’ had a smarter director. Put in Scarlett Johansson. Done. And thank Odin that Natalie Portman has already won her Oscar- because her work in the film is not memorable or half decent either. She doesn’t even share chemistry with Hemsworth, she looks frightened and intimidated by him. But as with all the human characters. I can’t blame the actors; the characters are just paper thin.
The writing for them is just so lazy and half assed that – no joke- Stellen Skarsgard ACTUALLY pulls out a Children’s book from the shelf and uses it (and its very large and easy to understand pictures) to explain Asgard and Thor. At another point Thor draws a picture in the ground…it’s all so fucking lazy that it’s infuriating.
In Asgard; things fare a little; but not much better. The cast of the Gods is good, Chris Hemsworth as ‘Thor’ is great, and Hopkins (Odin) and Hiddleston (Loki) are excellent too. Problem is they aren’t given that much to do either…
There might be cool looking (and often gorgeous) visual effects; but I don’t give a crap about a ‘Rainbow bridge’ or a ‘Worm-gate’ or how ‘Frost people’ work. I want to know about character. Alas all I’m given is just endless scenes of people shouting at each other.
Antony Hopkins does provides some gravitas in the beginning- but he is soon missing from the movie once they introduce the following bullshit plot device: Loki places Hopkins in a kind of ‘suspended animation’ chamber – So we have to wait through the whole movie to see him again.
It’s shit like this that fills ‘Thor’. It makes me think that the screenwriters just didn’t know how to deal with the character and just copped out. All the exposition and all of the zero characterization combined with the terrible humor; amount to a cinematic experience akin to walking through a desert without water whilst dragging a huge boulder on your back. Oh the missed opportunity!
It’s such a ploy for ‘The Avengers’. There is a half an hour sequence in the middle of the movie that is devoted to SHIELD that does absolutely nothing in terms of Character and Story. I’m not joking. It serves zero purpose other than to set up elements of ‘The Avengers’. It’s disgraceful.
This film exists as a tie-in for ‘The Avengers’. ‘Thor’ calls attention to itself with cameos by future Avengerer: Hawkeye – and a little easter egg at the end. Save but a rather awesome cameo by Stan Lee. Most of the production values within the film are either absurd and outrageous or simply distracting.
The costumes look great when Thor is on Asgard but as the suits of armor and capes walk across a small south western tow; I can’t help but cringe. There are some amazing effects nonetheless.
Yeah the visual effects and the design is pretty good. It’s a pretty movie for sure; but Branagh just insists on ruining all of the good will by filming everything in a tilted angle; and other distracting things like bad acting/dialogue…
The first battle displays some nifty sequences where Thor goes up against frost giants and a large creature that looked like an oversized beetle. Most of it was inconsequential as the shots become too distracting or unusual, like the Dutch tilt Dave is talking about. Shots throughout the film look decent as long as their kept indoors. The design of Asgard and its hallways are astounding with its grandeur pillars and carvings. Its color scheme bright and resembles something of a grand and proud civilisation.
In the end those were the only good points I could pick out from the film. The battle against the Destroyer comes out as a bad remake of some Power Rangers episode and even the final battle against Loki felt rushed and emotionless. Forget about score as the only music that I could hear throughout the course of the film was heavy rock music or grand melodramatic rhythms.
That’s one thing that got on my nerves quite a bit: the absence of a score. None of the Marvel movie’s have had a decent score (except the first HULK) – ‘The Avengers’ better have John Williams or Michael Giacchino. Visuals aside; the movie doesn’t get much right.
Yeah, and the film tries to address too many myths and concepts but results in this mess of cold and heartless product. Instead of focusing on the characters and the story, Thor was merely a showcase how studios are able to create heavy effect sequences and over the top action scenes. It cannot exist as a film of its own because there is no discernible plot or conflict.
We can’t relate to the characters because they’re too detached from reality and we don’t care for them because everything that happens will have no consequence to Thor or the humans. We know that Thor will be in the Avengers and that in itself says that either way; Thor will survive this film. Thor the film in itself is inconsequential and is another example of a soulless Hollywood product with no other purpose than to cash in on the hype.
And on top of all that there is no way Natalie Portman, Stellen Skarsgard and Kat Dennings will appear in ‘The Avengers’ - you know all this from before the credits. As Merwyn said; it’s soulless and it’s the same plot you’ve seen before; except in this case done poorly.
So that’s our review, It went on a bit long and it’s rambling. There you go; give ‘Thor’ a watch, as it’s an interesting failure – ‘The Avengers’ will still kick ass; as Hemsworth’s Thor works. I’d be remiss to tell you to avoid the film because it’s kind of essential in understanding ‘The Avengers’ – because of that half an hour in the desert.
That’s the problem with ‘Iron Man 2’ and it’s the problem with ‘Thor’.
Marvel is trying way to hard to please everyone – I’m hoping they don’t end up pleasing no-one.
I overheard one critic in the lobby after the press screening saying: “If that’s the future of visuals; great. But if that’s the future of storytelling then we are pretty fucked!”.
I couldn’t have summed it up better…
2 out of 10.