Night Moves
MCN Columnists
Heather Havrilesky

By Heather Havrilesky hhavrilesky@gmail.com

Thor: The big, the blonde and the arrogant

Arrogance is bad. Arrogance is particularly bad when you have super-human strength and a hammer that flies around knocking off the heads of evil ice giants at your beckoning. And if you’re a big, flaxen-haired Adonis who loves to fight and is about to inherit the throne of the glorious kingdom of Asgard, arrogance is downright unacceptable. Powerful, good-looking people in charge of wealthy planets (or nation-states, or hit sitcoms, or start-up religions) should never be arrogant. A whole herd of bad examples – from The Donald to Charlie Sheen to Tom Cruise to Barney the Dinosaur – have already taught us that Big, Important Lesson.

But every superhero blockbuster must have its moral, so here’s Thor‘s Anthony Hopkins (as King Odin, Thor’s father) schooling us on the costs of arrogance once again. Hopkins has played the hot-tempered but sage patriarch so many times he really must sigh and roll his eyes whenever he comes to the scene where his character’s thoughtful lessons (“A wise king never seeks out war, but he must always be ready for it!”) are replaced by outraged bellowing. Still, Hopkins gamely retreads old ground, donning funny-looking royal hats and pointing jewel-encrusted royal scepters at his smug blonde son, who looks like he just got back from performing lap dances at a Chippendale’s “Norse God Fantasy”-themed bridal shower.

Sadly, instead of having twenties tucked into his man-panties, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) was just out breaking skulls on Jotunheim, home of the aforementioned blue ice giants. Although his slender, haunted-looking brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) warned him not to pick fights (“You know not what your actions will unleash!”), Thor didn’t listen. Or rather, he listened at first, then one of the blue guys jeered, “Run back home, little princess!” And Thor took offense. Because, fine, maybe he does wear his blonde hair all long and loose and pretty, and maybe he does favor a flowing red velvet cape not unlike those embraced by a number of Disney princesses. But that doesn’t mean he’s a girl, damn it!

As if to emphasize this point, King Odin tells Thor, “You are a vain, greedy, cruel boy!” Instead of naming his son the new king as planned, Odin sends Thor down to our scrappy blue marble, where life will surely be much more humbling for him. After all, who likes cocky blonde men with perfect abs on planet Earth?

Lucky for Thor, he doesn’t land in the middle of the Amazon or a Mumbai ghetto or a World Wide Wrestling Federation ring. Instead, he’s tossed into the hinterlands of New Mexico, where a gorgeous astrophysicist with incredibly long eyelashes immediately finds him. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is out trolling the desert with her older mentor (Stellan Skarsgard) and her snarky female assistant (Kat Dennings), gathering information about some mysterious cloudburst that’s been occurring in the area.

Like most astrophysicists, Jane lives in a stylish, round building surrounded by big windows that lies in the center of an idyllic 4-block-wide New Mexico town, the likes of which might inspire those passing through to exclaim, “My god, this place is just like a movie set!” Although we don’t know a thing about Jane, she does seem pretty damn passionate about… whatever it is that she does, which isn’t entirely clear. She’s also starting to develop a big crush on Thor himself, who has by now yanked off his shirt, and in so doing, rendered Jane, her assistant and even her gray-haired mentor speechless at the sight of his deliriously well-formed body. Even a rowdy IMAX audience in Los Angeles fell silent as Thor’s gigantic man-boobs and superhero six-pack molested our eye sockets in all of their 3D glory. Apparently this reaction isn’t uncommon: A quick Google search on Chris Hemsworth elicits the suggestions “Chris Hemsworth workout,” “Chris Hemsworth married” and “Chris Hemsworth gay,” and countless other exercises in wishful thinking. “You know, for a crazy homeless person, he’s pretty cut,” the wisecracking assistant mutters to Jane, and we all laugh a little too loudly and wipe our sweaty palms on our pants.

“I need sustenance,” growls Thor, by which we can only assume he means pancakes and eggs instead of, say, pig fetuses or handbag dogs. You never know. And really, it might be nice if Thor could do something a little unexpected, like eat the head off a live rat. Because as it stands, we feel like we’re watching a weak imitation of General Zod’s trip to earth from Superman II. (“Is there a renaissance fair tonight?” one federal agent asks another when he spots visitors from Asgard strutting through town in shiny warrior clothing.) But where Superman II featured some interesting characters and a lot of action and just generally kicked ass, Thor is alarmingly plot-free and action-free and outdated and the stakes are hypnotically low from start to finish. In fact, Thor should consider trading in his magic hammer for some Hammer Pants and calling it a day.

And while Chris Hemsworth is certainly pretty enough to recall Brad Pitt‘s turn in his own girl-porn flick, Legends of the Fall (which also starred Anthony Hopkins as a wise/temperamental patriarch), Hemsworth really has far less flair or charm than Pitt. This lack of affect isn’t helped much by a series of scenes on planet earth that look like repurposed fiery sequences from RoboCop 3.

So what does Thor have to offer summertime movie-goers that’s new and fresh and exciting? Well, let’s see. The kingdom of Asgard is quite beautiful at sunset. Hmm. When Portman and Hemsworth kiss, they really seem to mean it – to such an extent that one wonders if Thor might be better reworked as a romantic comedy. What else? There are a handful snappy lines in the script. (When your budget is $150 million, they tend to spring on a few script doctors to punch things up.)

Aside from a few hearty laughs, though, Thor is astonishingly clunky, predictable and lackluster from start to finish, with almost no character development, very little action, not much romance, and basically next to nothing to keep audiences invested. Compared to any of the Batman, Spiderman or Iron Man movies, Thor doesn’t even rate. How this screenplay got made into a huge-budget summer movie is quite a mystery indeed. The lesson, for directors and producers and studio heads everywhere? Arrogance is bad. It might make you rich, but it’s still bad. The rest of us should remember King Odin’s words: A wise summer movie-goer never seeks out a mediocre movie, but he must always be ready for it!

2 Responses to “Thor: The big, the blonde and the arrogant”

  1. Somaya says:

    When I came out of the cinema, I turned to my comic book geek friend and asked if we could watch ‘Pretty Woman’ now, since I felt like following up a bad rom-com with a better one. By the time I sat down to review ‘Thor’, I was foaming at the mouth and, therefore, my review is nowhere as brilliant as yours…in fact, it’s an opinion piece, exactly one paragraph long, which just says how pissed off I am. Reading your review was like someone had given a voice and words to my fumbling anger. Thank you!

  2. jepressman says:

    I do believe that Thor is intended to appeal to this or that market sector.This film isn’t meant to be taken seriously,right? However, Thor has a higher Rotten Tomatoes rating than several Oscar BP’s and a bunch of nominees.

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Leonard Klady's Friday Estimates
Friday Screens % Chg Cume
Lucy 17 3173 NEW 17
Hercules 11 3595 NEW 11
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 4.7 3668 -55% 160.4
The Purge: Anarchy 3.4 2856 -65% 44.8
Planes: Fire & Rescue 2.8 3839 -57% 28.6
Sex Tape 1.9 3062 -68% 22.8
And So It Goes 1.3 1762 NEW 1.3
Transformers: Age of Extinction 1.3 2476 -54% 233
Tammy 1.1 2562 -54% 75.8
22 Jump Street 0.8 1613 -46% 183.9
Also Debuting
A Most Wanted Man 0.71 361
The Fluffy Movie 0.51 432
Kick 0.37 179
Magic in the Moonlight 0.12 17
She's Dating the Gangster 70,000 46
Alludu Seenu 29,100 86
The Divine Move 13,000 11
Happy Christmas 4,150 4
A Master Builder 3,100 2
Thirumanam Ennum Nikkah 2,800 13
Eyjafjallajokull 1,800 4
Come Back to Me 1,500 8
A Letter to Momo 1,100 1
Very Good Girls 1,100 9
3-Day Estimates Weekend % Chg Cume
It was supposed to be a horse race (notwithstanding Belmont) but at the finish line the singular teen romance The Fault in Our Stars left the competition in the dust with an estimated $48.1 million debut. Conversely, the frame’s other major release Edge of Tomorrow proved disappointing in a distant second at $28.9 million.
Exclusive newcomers were strong, including a solo Manhattan campaign of $9,400 for Citizen Koch. Much-ballyhooed abortion-themed rom-com Obvious Child proved fertile with $84,100 at four dispensaries.
In the niches, Indian import Holiday partied fair at $373,000 while Pinoy romantic comedy Maybe This Time grossed an impressive return of $552,000 on a trifling 51 screens.
Revenues for the session exceeded $160 million and ebbed 3% from last weekend’s tally. It was 8% improved from 2013 when the debut of The Purge posted $34 million and holdovers of Fast & Furious 6 and Now You See Me duked it out for place position with respective box office of $19.6 million and $19 million.
Industry tracking pitted The Fault in Our Stars against Edge of Tomorrow with the former demonstrating a slight edge as it picked up momentum toward opening day. The adaptation of John Green’s YA novel of teens who strike sparks in a cancer support group had a prognosis of $35 million.
The tide truly turned when Fault generated $8.2 million and Edge took in $1.8 million from Thursday previews. Crystal ball-gazers upped the ante to $55 million but the picture took another surprise turn with an unexpected 31% drop from Friday to Saturday business. Strong WOM in exit polling bodes well to broaden the opening weekend crowd, a predictaly 82% of women and was 79% aged 25-years and younger.
Edge of Tomorrow appeared to suffer from the amusement park factor with the movie crowd opting to skip this particular fun ride. Tracking had pegged the pic to open at between $32 million and $34 million. Reviews were upbeat for the futuristic mayhem with a Groundhog Day twist that opened a week earlier in 27 international territories to $18.7 million.
Exit demos also indicated that the sci-fier wasn’t particularly stepping on Fault’s toes with a 61% male tilt and 73% of the audience aged 25-years and older. A studio spokesman expressed confidence for a strong second weekend hold but history and upcoming competition definitely have the picture bucking considerable odds. International prospects are already ahead of Edge of Darkness’s likely final domestic tally with a second weekend estimated at $82 million that included a $25 million bow in China, $16.6 million in South Korea and Russia with $8.6 million.
Open Road's Chef expanded effectively again, prepping $10 million domestically.
Weekend (estimates) June 6 - 8, 2014
Title
Distributor
Gross (average)
% change *
Theaters
Cume
The Fault in Our Stars
Fox
48.1 (15,160)
NEW
3173
48.1
Maleficent
BV
33.6 (8,520)
-52%
3948
127.5
Edge of Tomorrow
WB
28.9 (8,280)
NEW
3490
28.9
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Fox
14.9 (4,090)
-54%
3639
189
A Million Ways to Die in the West
Uni
7.2 (2,270)
-57%
3160
30.1
Godzilla
WB
6.0 (1.920)
-50%
3110
185.1
Neighbors
Uni
5.2 (1,940)
-36%
2674
137.8
Blended
WB
4.0 (1,370)
-51%
2928
36.5
Chef
Open Road
2.5 (1,940)
32%
1298
10.3
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Sony
1.9 (1,290)
-46%
1481
196.3
Million Dollar Arm
BV
1.8 (1,120)
-49%
1643
31.4
Belle
Searchlight
.75 (1,580)
-40%
476
7.6
Rio 2
Fox
.72 (1,030)
-35%
702
125.6
Maybe This Time
ABS
.55 (10,820)
NEW
51
0.55
The Other Woman
Fox
.48 (980)
-65%
489
83.2
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
BV
.43 (1,360)
-31%
317
255.9
Holiday
Big Pictures
.37 (2,590)
NEW
144
0.37
Heaven is for Real
Sony
.37 (830)
-54%
446
88.8
Words and Pictures
Roadside Attractions
.29 (2,940)
269%
98
0.54
Grand Seduction
eOne
.28 (3,020)
-13%
97
0.82
The Lego Movie
WB
.26 (960)
-5%
274
255.8
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Fox Searchlight
.24 (1,280)
-37%
185
57.8
Ida
Music Box
.21 (2,540)
-10%
84
1.3
The Immigrant
Weinstein
.19 (1,320)
-39%
145
1.4
Divergent
Lionsgate
.19 (650)
-43%
298
149
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films)
$156.60
% Change (Last Year)
8%
% Change (Last Week)
-3%
Also debuting/expanding
Fed Up
Weinstein Co.
83,600 (950)
-49%
88
1.2
Obvious Child
A24
84,100 (21,030)
4
0.08
Cold in July
IFC
68,900 (970)
-38%
71
0.25
Night Moves
Cinedgm
48,500 (1,520)
126%
32
30,800
Lunchbox
Sony Classics
50,700 (1,100)
-9%
46
4.1
Filmistaan
UTV
35,500 (1,480)
24
0.04
WolfCop
Echolands
34,900 (4,360)
8
0.03
Ping Pong Summer
Gravitas
26,400 (1,760)
15
0.03
Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon
Weinstein Co.
23,200 (5,800)
4
0.02
Only Lovers Left Alive
Sony Classics
22,800 (760)
-53%
30
1.6
Tracks
Mongrel
13,800 (2,760)
5
0.01
Citizen Koch
Variance
9,400 (9,400)
1
0.01
Trust Me
Paladin
5,100 (565)
9
0.01
Burning Blue
Film Arcade
4,600 (380)
12
0.01
The Case Against 8
Submarine
4,300 (1,430)
3
0.01
Test
Variance
2,400 (800)
3
0.01
Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 - June 5, 2014)
Distributor
Box Office
Market Share
Warner Bros. (12)
728.5
16.80%
Buena Vista (11)
677.1
15.60%
20th Century Fox (11)
615.2
14.20%
Sony (11)
577.7
13.30%
Universal (10)
540.5
12.50%
Paramount (8)
322.2
7.40%
Lionsgate (13)
285.4
6.60%
Open Road (6)
95.1
2.20%
Fox Searchlight (5)
83.7
1.90%
Weinstein Co. (12)
76.5
1.80%
Relativity (5)
75.5
1.80%
FreeStyle (6)
68.9
1.60%
Focus (6)
39.2
0.90%
eOne/Seville (14)
35.3
0.80%
Other * (142)
107.9
2.60%
4328.7
100.00%
* none greater than 0.4%
Top Domestic Grossers (Jan. 1 - June 5, 2014) *
Title
Distributor
Box Office
The Lego Movie
WB
255,590,340
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
BV
255,447,104
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Sony
194,388,396
Godzilla
WB
179,093,006
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Fox
174,401,266
Divergent
Lionsgate
148,811,524
Frozen *
BV
137,534,677
Ride Along
Uni
134,965,071
Neighbors
Uni
132,600,495
Lone Survivor
Uni/eOne
125,026,404
Rio 2
Fox
124,909,565
Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Fox
110,162,081
300: Rise of an Empire
WB
106,601,189
Noah
Par
100,950,258
Maleficent
BV
93,846,968
Non-Stop
Uni
91,869,306
Heaven is for Real
Sony
88,412,645
American Hustle *
Sony/eOne
82,661,672
The Other Woman
Fox
81,725,819
The Monuments Men
Sony
78,132,865
* does not include 2013 Box Office