[The Social Opportunist]: Movie Review – Thor (2011)

Written by Phil May 03, 2012

Thor (2011)

In preparation for the release of The Avengers this weekend, I decided that I needed to catch up on the semi-prequels for this mash-up of superhero prowess before I could really enjoy it. I had already seen all of the Iron Man movies and The Incredible Hulk, but I still needed to watch Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. These movies were released when I was in the height of my school work, and so I really couldn’t make the effort to go to the theatre and see them. But since I’m currently enjoying my week of vacation between school and work, I decided to turn on my Netflix and watch each of these back-to-back. This means that you guys are going to get not only one, but two reviews of superhero movies! The first of the two reviews is for Thor. I really hope you enjoy my review better than I enjoyed this movie…

Check out the trailer below before reading the review, just to give yourself a little context (or if you’ve already seen it, a little reminder).

***WARNING: The following review may contain spoilers.***

I’ve taken a few courses about classical mythology, but none of them contained any content regarding the character of Thor (given that they were mainly focused around Greek mythology). Regardless, I doubt Thor, or even the comic book that the movie is based around, stays very true to the mythology. The film is centres around the Asgardians, who are ruled by Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and his sons Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleson). After a centuries-long truce between the Asgardians and their war rivals, the Frost Giants, is seemingly broken, Thor retaliates. Having gone against the wishes of his powerful father, Thor is punished by Odin and is banished to Earth without his powers or his trademark hammer. Thor has a difficult time adapting to his limited powers on Earth and he is eventually taken in by a team of scientists led by Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). However, once Thor’s family drama from Asgard begins to spill over and threaten his new home, he has to find a way to regain his powers before things get out of control.

I expected a lot from this movie going into it, but I was given so little. It’s difficult to explain, but there seemed to be something very important missing from the plot of this movie that could have made it a million times better. While the backstory for Thor and his Asgardian family was adequate, there was absolutely no backstory given for any of the human characters. This meant that they were largely uninteresting, shallow and basically served as placeholders to fill in an already anemic plot line. I’m not sure if this was recognized when Thor first came out, but the movie seems like it was rushed. It’s as if they simply pushed this movie through production without any effort in making it a quality film because they wanted to have it ready before The Avengers came out. I don’t even think this movie was long enough to substantiate being released in theatres. Maybe they should’ve considered a made-for-TV movie or direct-to-DVD, because it doesn’t seem like the big-budget blockbuster it was made out to be.

Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Natalie Portman (Jane)

However, that isn’t to say that there wasn’t good aspects to this movie as well. The cast themselves actually did a great job with the roles that they were given, but they just had to deal with a mediocre movie. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) did a great job of playing the arrogant, inspiring and courageous title character with a charm that, while nowhere near the calibre of Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man, made him watchable. Tom Hiddleson (Loki) is an actor that I’ve never heard of or seen before in anything else, however he pulled off the role of a mischievous and cartoonish villain so well that I’m excited to see him reprise the role in The Avengers. And who wouldn’t be excited to see Anthony Hopkins in anything, let alone as Odin, the father of Thor. As for the human characters, Natalie Portman (Jane) and Kat Dennings (Darcy) were the only ones that made any real impact. The dramatic scenes that Portman treated us to were definitely not her best, however her and Dennings did provide a comic relief that made the movie somewhat watchable.

I wish they had given a little more time and attention to this movie. Usually these superhero movies are trying to teach the audience something (most often a moral lesson of some sorts). It makes me think of the X-Men movie franchise, which were effective superhero movies that really will stand the test of time. Those movies usually taught me something about brotherhood, responsibility or acceptance. However, when it comes to Thor, I don’t think I left the experience knowing anything I didn’t already know. The conflict didn’t seem real or severe enough for its ending to feel gratifying; the climax of the film felt more like a bump in the road than a roller coaster. The movie seemed more like the introduction to the story, which is the main reason why I feel it didn’t live up to its potential. An epic character like Thor deserves an epic storyline; a storyline that sticks with its audiences and teaches them something special. However, what we’re left with is a mashup of cliche and laziness.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) tries to reclaim his trademark hammer.

This may have been an unexpected by-product for the producers of this movie, or maybe it was completely planned, but Thor actually had a significant comedic aspect to it that helped to entertain me while being utterly bored. Kat Dennings, from the movie Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist and the hit-TV show 2 Broke Girls, gave the audience some brilliant one-liners as Jane’s assistant that actually made me chuckle out loud. And I found myself smiling each time Jane hit Thor with her car (it actually happened more than once). In a movie that didn’t seem to impress me at all, these funny moments were a ray of sunshine and were something that the director would have been well served to use more often. They were also just another reason why I believe that Thor could have been a better movie if the story have been a little more developed. These jokes shouldn’t stand out in a movie of this kind. Instead, they should supplement and buttress an already entertaining film.

There doesn’t seem to be much more that I can really say about this movie. It didn’t live up to the hype and was a huge let down in terms of superhero movies. When we’ve been so privileged to watch movies like X-MenSpiderman and Iron Man, there really is no excuse for Thor to be as disappointing as it was. There was so much potential here for this to be an epic movie that could spawn sequel after sequel, but they just didn’t take the opportunity (I know that Thor 2 is in the works, but why even bother?). However, I hold out hope that they will continue to flush out this story line in The Avengers to a point where I can somehow rescind on some of this review. As I said previously, the casting of this movie was well done and, as long as there is more substance behind these actors, Thor can easily be salvaged.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10

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