Thor Movie Review
Following the Iron Man movies and the Hulk reboot with Edward Norton, Chris Hemsworth was cast to play the Nordic thunder god & protector of mankind - Thor Odinson!
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings, Anthony Hopkins, Clark Gregg, Ray Stevenson, Jaimie Alexander, Tadanobu Asano, Josh Dallas, Colm Feore, Rene Russo, Jeremy Renner & Idris Elba.
Run Time: 114 min.
US Release: 06 May 2011
UK Release: 27 April 2011
German Release: 28 April 2011
Welcome back to my fourth review of the Marvel Phase 1 films. To shorten the wait for the upcoming Ant-Man movie, I decided to watch all previous adaptations of the first MCU phase and analyse them. If you haven’t read any of these reviews but are interested, scroll to the end to find my other posts for Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2 among others.
— WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! —
This is one of the more ballsy movies that Marvel developed for the big screen since up until now we obtained adaptations of the well-known genius, playboy and billionaire who builds his own weaponised armours, as well as a new version of the physicist who overdosed on radiation and mutated to giant, green, rage monsters. Cinema audiences, however, have never seen an adaptation of the stories of the mystical Thor. It is a great deal to try and make a film about an immortal superhero, who comes from another world and is a god on top of that. It needs to be appealing to the mass audience but funny enough, the character turned out to be the least of this flick's problems.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), this superhero blockbuster was released in the spring of 2011, featuring among others Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard and Idris Elba and marks the fourth entry of the Marvel cinematic universe. Thor is my second least-favourite film of the MCU, right behind Iron Man 2. It suffers from several big plot issues and overstuffed side-stories, while Branagh made a couple of cinematographic choices that were not taken well by the viewers. Still, as a comic book adaptation, Thor is actually a decent and entertaining blockbuster. Compared to the standards set by other Marvel films, however, it did not even scratch the surface.
The story revolves around the god of thunder, who needs to deal with his new mortal body following his banishment from Asgard, after having started a new war with Jotunheim. His mischievous brother Loki (Hiddleston) takes over the throne and develops a plan that not only threatens godfather Odin and Asgardians but also human lives on Earth. Thor needs to prove that he is indeed the hero he says he is, rise to the occasion and save the mortal woman he fell in love with.
As I said before, the story has some structural problems. For one, the plot makes it hard to identify with the main character of the story. He is an immortal god, after all, living in on a different planet and realm of existence. The fact that he is stripped from his powers did help a little but there is no real sense of danger or urgency concerning the character, as he is a founding member of the Avengers. The narrative feels distorted, as the writers tried to force quite a lot of comedic moments into the story, to make it more appealing. While the clash between two different cultures - in this case, intergalactic cultures - can lead to some funny moments, repeating the same joke over again can become tiresome. It would also have helped to give the romantic subplot more time to blossom. As it stands, it feels absolutely forced.
On a positive note, though, the movie stays mostly true to the source material, with a few exceptions here and there. While Thor does not wake up in Donald Blake M.D.’s body, slowly figuring out about his Asgardian heritage and god-like powers, the writers managed to find another way to pay tribute to Donald Blake, the earthly alter ego of the god of thunder.
Character-wise there is not much to say, the film focuses a little bit too much on Jane Foster (Portman), who nearly stole screen time from the titular character but other than that, I did enjoy the personas in this superhero flick. Chris Hemsworth makes a fantastic Thor! He plays his part as the god of thunder well and it is fun to watch him deal with his new mortal body. It is hard, however, to identify oneself during the first half of the movie, as his Superman-like powers and arrogance make him look more like an invulnerable jerk. Tom Hiddleston is brilliant as the trickster god Loki. This man infuses the role of the misguided anti-hero with charisma.
Sir Anthony Hopkins was brilliantly cast as “Allfather” Odin, even though he is criminally underused in this flick. It also came as quite a surprise, to hear that an actor of his calibre accepted a role in a comic book adaptation while proving at the same time that the quality of these films changed in the last decade. Stellan Skarsgard is another great addition to the cast; his character Dr Erik Selvig is charming and very entertaining.
This brings me to the biggest problem this blockbuster has: the cinematography! Director Kenneth Branagh added a vast amount of Dutch angles in nearly all frames of the movie for no reason. It distracted so much from the actual plot, making it incredibly hard to concentrate on the scene. I also wasn't a big fan of how the action was depicted, which included a lot of fast cuts during fight segments, especially during the battle in Jotunheim. The depiction of Asgard is an absolute effects disaster, especially during the beginning and the end. Creating a surrounding that is home to gods is no with no doubt hard to adapt, and the golden towers and halls aren't the problem here. It is the lighting and colour spectrum that turned Asgard into the glittery and jolly-like home of the Care Bears rather than that of Norse gods!
Verdict: Thor, although not the greatest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, can still be enjoyed every now and then. The plot is messy but the dialogues are entertaining. While the characters are underdeveloped, it is fun to watch Hemsworth and company portray these larger-than-life personas on screen. That said, the biggest matter this blockbuster suffers from, are the poor cinematographic choices, inappropriate colour grading and lighting. Personally, I like it a little bit more than Iron Man 2 but will give it the same grade: 6.5 out of 10.
Thank you all for reading my review! If you want, you can leave a comment below and leave your opinion on this Marvel flick. Next week I will be reviewing Captain America: The First Avenger.