There will always be a part of me that has the tastes of a 12 year old boy–Don’t be disgusting, I mean that I like the same things a 12 year old boy might like. Okay, that was both disgusting and stupid, as you well know 12 year old boys don’t like 12 year old girls, now stop it–and that includes superheros. I’m just waiting for The Book of Three (1964) to be turned into a movie–please don’t ruin it and that includes making a mash-up of it and The Black Cauldron (1965) again. Superheros are great because they are both awesomely powerful and always do what’s right. Shut up cynics, justice is coming.
So I’m going to do some pretty heavy-duty spoiling in this review. I think that’s okay because this is a superhero movie and those are really about execution rather than surprising plots. If you expected anything else, well you can take my word for it and hope no longer.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is a little hot headed and likes a good fight. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is getting old, I guess, and wants his son (Thor) to stop being such a frat boy. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Jane Foster (Dr.?) (Natalie Portman) is doing some sciencey stuff with Dr. Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and Darcy (Kat Dennings). Thor does something hot headed and fighty and Odin banishes him to Earth (as a kind of time-out). Foster runs into Thor and they do stuff. S.H.I.E.L.D. (led by Agent Caulson, (Clark Gregg)) is involved. Oh no, I think Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is up to more than his normal brand of mischief. “Looooooki, you got some splainin’ to do!” Fighting happens and Thor becomes a man.
Okay, there are some problems in this movie, but I think they’ve been overblown by people determined not to like the movie. It is, at the end of the day, an entertainment. Like most superhero movies, it could have been something more, but wasn’t. Ultimately, it was too rushed.
Some blame director Kenneth Branagh. I would never blame Branagh for anything being bad. I’m inclined to point to the writers. I’m not saying Branagh did an amazing job, I get the feeling that 50% of this was created by the creatives (CGI) and plugged into the movie. Still, the complaint that Asgard was great and Earth was junk (in direction) strikes me as bogus.
The overarching flaw of the movie is the story-line which is full of events without much meaning. It’s like they set out the outline of the movie: **Spoilers, obviously**
Guy 1: Okay, so Odin beats the frost giants, then something happens, and Thor goes against Odin and gets banished.
Guy 2: Right, so we’ll explain that and then introduce the Hammer-
Guy 3: Yeah, the Hammer has some kind of thing like The Sword in the Stone. We’ll have to explain that.
Guy 2: So Thor has to become worthy-
Guy 1: Right, so we’ll explain that and then he goes back to Asgard and fights and we set up The Avengers (2012)
Guy 2: What about the love interest?
Guy 3: Let’s make her like a physicist, that’s how they’ll meet.
Guy 2: Well, we’ll have to explain that. And how he gets to Earth.
And so on. That can work, but you’re going to need a lot of great, charming dialogue. There was some, but not a lot in this movie. What they needed was a good origin story. Instead, they got a decent origin–Thor must learn humility to be worthy of the Asgard throne–and then completely forgot what they were doing.
Why do I think they forgot? Because he learned humility and became worthy of the Asgard throne. “But Professor,” you say imploringly, “what madness is this? He has achieved the stated goal and fulfilled the promise of the premise.” To which I reply, “Silence, you fool!” I then explain.
This is an origin story, all we want is an origin and first trial of his character. What we get is the origin, trial, and resolution. He’s too wise too early. Where can he develop as a character? He’s already sacrificed his life for others. You can’t top that.
As performances go, most characters don’t have enough screen time to even say what their motivation is let alone try and act it out for us. Foster falls in love with Thor so quickly that even I feel put upon to try and believe it. Really the best the movie has to offer is workmanlike functionalism in all but Loki/Hiddleston. He gets to have daddy issues and villainous tendencies. Everybody else just has to run around and hit or be hit.
Like I said before, they also try to fill too much in. They come up with the general points–Asgard, problem, banishment, become hero, kick butt, close the loop with an overcome-able obstacle–and then they have to explain it all. That takes time and way more time than they could have possibly imagined. And that’s not including all the “little” touches like Heimdall (Idris Elba).
It becomes a whirlwind of uninteresting things to do or explain. And in less than two hours!
Now, that said, most people probably don’t share my criticisms. They don’t care about the structure, they just want to see some super-sized mayhem. Sadly, it appears, that was in short supply. No, they were trying for something a little more quality than Clash of the Titans (2010) in this one. The complexity of the Loki character should be proof enough of that.
Well, they couldn’t get to the quality bits. Why? Because they spent too much time resolving something they shouldn’t have–the character flaw of Thor that would have made sense of the whole venture.