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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thor - 2011

Two of my most anticipated films, and some of the more acclaimed, of 2011 were opening last weekend and this one, Midnight in Paris and The Tree of Life. Naturally, I was heading to the theater to see Midnight in Paris, another popular Woody Allen film. However, once I arrived it dawned on me that I am currently living in the state of Alabama, where we all have gloriously terrible taste in films. With that being said, it was quite clear that half of the theater was reserved for Pirates of the Caribbean, and I obviously had no chance of catching a showing of Midnight in Paris for some months from now. Fast Five and Thor took up the bulk of space in the rest of the theater, and since I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to see Fast Five, my girlfriend suggested to see Thor (mainly for the lead Chris Hemsworth) and so we went. Originally I did not think it was going to be a half decent film, despite all of the positive reviews, none seemed to convince me that me early judgment of the film was incorrect. But after seeing Thor, even with all of the flaws jumping out at me like it was in 3D (which the film most certainly was not) I enjoyed nearly every minute of it, and I will crown it the so far most entertaining film of 2011. That may not be enough for it to score a high rating, but let's be honest, not every film is made to win Oscars, right?

Just before getting being crowned king of Asgard, warrior Thor (Chris Hemsworth) picks I fight with his realm's long time enemy. This enrages his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and for his bad and unintelligent decisions Thor's powers are taken away and he is cast out of the realm. But his father's last words were saying that if Thor was worthy he could regain his hammer and his powers, though for the time being he is stuck on earth with regular humans. A scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) meets Thor, who she thinks can assist in her many studies, and they fall in love while she helps Thor blend in with everyone else. Meanwhile, Thor's brother is scheming a plan to take the throne, and things back home need Thor more than anyone ever expected.

Let me begin by saying if you are looking for a complex story with plenty of depth, then you might as well stop reading this review and not even consider watching this film, because I assure you that you will not find it here. Thor is pure visual entertainment. That doesn't mean it is bad, but I would have liked a much better story. By no means did I love the film Thor, but I actually loved the idea of this film, and the potential films that could have been made in the future. My problem was Thor does not stand as a film on its own, it is brought together and made only to set up The Avengers. I wish this had started a series like Spider-Man, Iron Man, Batman, Superman, any of those films, and to be honest since the flaws were so obvious in Thor, I think they could fairly easily be fixed. But no, the film ends with another Iron Man 2 set up (though Thor was admittedly far better than that) and the credits end with the words "you will see Thor next in The Avengers". It is unfortunate, but I suppose the whole goal for the people making these films is just to bring in the bucks, and they, whether the film is good or not, consistently succeed in doing so.

Now on to something positive about the film, the acting, which was both at times a disappointment and at times a big surprise. Chris Hemsworth, the lead, does a fantastic job playing Thor. I don't think people fully grasp the concept that just because a performance is not worthy of Oscar talk, does not at all mean that it isn't good. That, in my opinion, is why Hemsworth's performance is getting any criticism at all. Critic Peter Travers said about Hemsworth's performance, "Hemsworth, an Aussie actor with vocal command to match his heaving brawn, doesn't just play the role, he owns it." To me this is a perfect way to say how good Hemsworth was. The main thing that stuck out to me was how believable he was, and considering that he was playing a god that loses his powers and falls to earth, that's impressive. Anthony Hopkins was fantastic, and that I did not expect to say. I expect nothing more than an average performance from him, and it turned out to be a very solid one. He was the perfect man to play the part of Odin, and did a very good job. My disappointment, however, was Natalie Portman. Coming off of her Oscar winning role in Black Swan, I was expecting something better, but to be honest she was not good. I don't mean average, I don't mean decent, she wasn't good. Tom Hiddleston playing Loki was quite a pain as well, but nothing really to affect the viewing of Thor. All in all as an entire cast the acting was good, nothing more.

The screenplay, unfortunately, is hands what struggled the most in Thor. The character and story development were almost non-existant throughout the entire film. One of the main things I look for in a film is how they work with the characters, and that is mainly why I am going to rate this film as low as I have. I didn't care for the characters or what happened to them, I only enjoyed the visual delight Thor was. And the story, it isn't 15 or 20 minutes till the audience has experienced incredible action sequences and Thor has been sent to earth. I would have liked more time spent on the realm Asgard, instead of hurrying to earth. I know after "Hulk" everyone is afraid of a too dramatic comic book film with no action, but please people let's put a little more compelling drama in this film. The screenplay was terrible overall, that's about all there is to say about it.

Now on to the obvious most impressive, and entertaining part of Thor, the visuals. You may say Avatar is visually beautiful, you may say TRON: Legacy is visually beautiful, You may say Iron Man has the best special effects of any comic book adaptation ever, but me, just to sit and watch I would enjoy Thor visually as much as any film this decade, other than The Lord of the Rings. This was the only real reason I decided to give Thor a positive rating, movies, especially comic book ones, are made to entertain, and I was entirely drawn to the theater screen the entire film because of the visuals, that has to count for something.

Overall, Thor is not a brilliant film, and it is not a great film, but it is an entertaining one from start to finish. As I have mentioned in the review, there are plenty of flaws, but Chris Hemsworth's performance and the stunning visuals overcome that, or at least try to. It isn't the best comic book film, but it certainly isn't the worst, and would beat Iron Man 2 any day at any time. If you think different, they are basically the same film, except one has better visuals and better acting, both in favor of Thor. I did not love the movie, but I enjoyed it.

Story: 5/10
Writing: 3/10
Acting: 7/10
Direction: 6/10 (nothing to really talk about)
Visuals: 10/10

Final Rating: 6.2/10


  1. good review, my score was similar. Great visuals but lacking in story.

  2. Interesting review Matt, I like the fact that you were open minded enough to give this film a chance even though you didn't expect a lot from it.
    I've not seen Thor yet but if I do I'll probably take your advice and sit back, switch off and enjoy it for what it is.

  3. Fun review to read. I however saw it quite differently. The character development of both Thor and Loki were appropriate and portrayed well. I saw it as more of a set up for future Thor movies with The Avengers as an added bonus. Branagh didn't even bother with directing the after credits scene for The Avengers. That was done by Joss Whedon himself. We will agree to disagree on this one! I thought it was a well told story of family, friends, and fury!

  4. My Girlfriend suggested to me that we see Thor as well...I wanted to see Fast Five but they sold out here...Nice Review Again Matt i cant ask for it any better.

    BTW you should be glade to be in America...I'm stuck over here where relase sometimes take a long time.

  5. Brent...still unable to log in under my own name...

    I actually preferred Iron man 2 over this, but then I'm a serious fan of RDJr!
    The more I think of Thor the more it feels like a bit of nothingness. It falls into that murky inbetween zone of not being bad, but not great either. It isn't bland, but not memorable either. It sort of avoids any distinctions of judgement!! Maybe that is its strength as it is good enough to make a pile of cash without it having to put in too much effort wise.

  6. Great review Matt! I'm not very interested in it since everyone is really comparing it to Iron Man, a film I don't see as a superior superhero movie. You make some interesting points in here. More movies become like this. They're not quality but they're entertaining. We need better directors and actors.

  7. Jesse - Yeah, I just hate how with films like Midnight in Paris and the King's Speech it takes them several extra months to get over here where I am. Thanks for reading!

    Brent - Good way of describing the film, thanks for reading!

    Jericho - Yeah, without the visuals the film is about a 3-4/10, so that is something you need to understand before you ever view it. Thanks!!