By David Poland email@example.com
Review: Thor-y… But It Kinda Thucks
Thor is not painful. You just can’t think about it too much.
You can’t think about the Marvel movie cliche’ of “asshole finds inner goodness by having his power stripped or trumped temporarily.”
You can’t think about all of the really good actors slumming through leaden dialogue and characters that have virtually nothing to do.
You can’t think about why the film goes blurry every time you move your head more than 10 degrees off of a perfectly squared, screen centered 3D axis.
You can’t think about why the effects look so cheesy so often.
You can’t think about being stuck in an abandoned western town that has people filling every inch of the frame everytime there is a street shot and all disappear when people drive crazy or 3 of the 4 streets in the town get blown up.
And mostly, you can’t think about why you aren’t feeling more when you’re watching it. It’s not freshman lecture boring… it’s tv-series-that-you-used-to-like-but-now-watch-out-of-habit-because-it’s-still-on-your-DVR boring.
Chris Hemsworth is fine… but he’s playing a stiff, so no real challenge. He isn’t Downey in Iron Man because he is reading from the script, not riffing. His four sidekicks are okay… but not really memorable. Jaimie Alexander is gorgeous and in skin-tight clothes and yet, somehow, isn’t very sexy. Rene Russo looks like she was woken from a nap. Hopkins can’t fake it anymore. Stellan Skarsgård also sleepwalks. We know more about Natalie Portman’s skin than ever before, but nothing about her character. I love Portman, but she didn’t have anything much to play here and The Girl needed to be more interesting for the film to work better. And while Kat Dennings gets off a few smart ass lines, like so many other characters, she has no investment in the story. And Idris Elba, who works his voice and his contacts to within an inch of their life is, after all the talk about his godliness, playing the f-ing doorman!
I like all of these actors. Wasted.
Yes, Asgard works better than earth… because earth doesn’t work at all. Are we really supposed to get excited about “big guy wakes up in hospital and throws guards around?” Really? Did they do a 3 hour shoot of isolated close-ups with a bow with every actor who was up for Hawkeye in The Avengers? Did Marvel pay Fox for the CG foundation for Gort from the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still? Did they avoid paying Jim Cameron for making blue people by making sure we couldn’t see any expression aside from their eyes? And whatever happened to the idea that if you were really a god, you didn’t need to be surrounded by the trappings of false idols?
All that said, I didn’t really start getting bored until the middle of the film. And I was pretty good with some of the third act… until they tried to make it so complicated conceptually that Thor’s head would have exploded trying to figure out the angles. I like the Thor hammer effects, though often, just as they were getting cool, they cut away and lost momentum.
The biggest problem is the script. The idea of the film felt forced and contrived from the start. Even though Clark Gregg is doing his best Ryan Seacrest, walking you through SHIELD trying to figure out who Thor is, they never seem really surprised. There is a good joke in the film in which Gregg just assumes that something is something he is already familiar will. (Stay vague… no spoilers) There is a moment when Thor is shirtless and the girls objectify him. There is even a real dramatic moment between Thor and dad that feels like a real dad and his teen son. But these moments of actual human interaction are too few and far between.
There was one genuine surprise for me in the entire film. It’s just a beat and it actually got me to make a noise and pop up in my chair. But then, it is followed by a scene that, first, requires a character to not finish what they were doing for no other reason that the screenwriters wrote it that way (there is another one in the film… with one of those… almost… got… the… sentence… out, which is laughably bad and a key turn in the film), and second, takes an event we all know is about to happen and drags it out until your teeth hurt. When it happens, you still get that “big ending” rush… but oy.
I completely see how Thor could be a really fun character in an Avengers movie. With Downey Man cracking jokes he doesn’t get and feeling competitive with Hulk on strength and Black Widow wanting to get into his armor, he can be a lot of fun. And this film was not painful to watch… but it was no pleasure. There isn’t a single moment in the film that I feel like I ever need to see again. A big ass hammer flying into your hand to be used for mayhem is a really cool thing. But now that I’ve seen it, time to move on.
I like Joe Johnston and Chris Evans and a bunch of the Captain America actors too. Fingers crossed.