By Matt Clyburn
Thor is an arrogant tool. Son of Odin and brother of the mischievous Loki, he is a sure thing for the throne when Odin decides to cash in the 401k and head to Mexico. Odin’s claim to fame is restoring peace after defeating the Frost Giants and taking the source of their power for display at the Asgard historical society.
On the day of Thor’s big promotion, the kingdom is invaded by a contingency of Frost Giants looking to take back their ice-case thing. After getting mauled by a bigger, more evil-looking version of Futurama‘s Bender, Thor foolishly decides to take the fight to their turf and teach them a lesson. Little does he know that they’re about to experience the best action sequence of the whole movie, capped off by an epic Odin appearance who rides in to put the Frost Giants on ice. Ha.
Thor’s bad ‘tude and silly actions get him voted off the island and sent to the bowels of hell: New Mexico. There he meets a few scientists, some local townsfolk and a few SHIELD agents using bureaucracy and underrated performances to defend the planet.
Thor continues the recent American obsession with Australian actors, as Chris Hemsworth (Captain Kirk’s dad in Star Trek) takes on the title character. The part is perhaps the most challenging of the Marvel super heroes because it most eloquently details the rise, fall and redemption of the tragic hero archetype.
The trailer for this film left me scoffing quite a bit at some cliche dialogue and weird-looking costumes. Costuming aside, which was rather strange as godly figures descended to earth, the dialogue was actually on point and seamlessly carried to the audience by an all-star performance from Hemsworth.
Oscar winner Natalie Portman (Black Swan) tries and fails as diamond-in-the-rough scientist Jane Foster searching for something in the cosmos. Portman’s attempt at an understated performance falls quite flat. Despite a handful of poorly written jokes, Kat Dennings (40-Year-Old Virgin, Charlie Bartlett) saves the day by delivering them in a fresh way (think Emma Stone in Easy A).
With all that said, I really disliked the last third of the movie. Bender’s evil twin comes down to earth like a Kraken out of Clash of the Titans and tries to put an end to our hero. A big old hammer and a smooch from the leading lady send Thor off to Asgard to reclaim his legacy and battle the bad guys.
One of my most persistent criticisms of modern film is the forced romantic relationships that randomly pop up in the midst of complex characters and stories. I imagine that filmmakers today sit in a room, pre-production, and decide that the script they’ve created has too much depth for the average moviegoer. This is a tremendous disservice to said moviegoer, as the filmmakers sacrifice a deeper exploration of the aforementioned complexities for a love story that we see in movie after movie after movie…after movie. Thor meets girl? No, thank you.
Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs) gives his best performance in recent years as Odin, a live-action version of the part he tried to play in Beowulf. Relative unknown Tom Hiddleston is a great cast addition, lending a duality to Loki that will certainly be a point of order for the forthcoming Avengers film.
The best thing about Thor is that it does the best job of its Marvel counterparts alluding to The Avengers. We are granted references to Tony Stark, Hawkeye and the Hulk in some really subtle plot points that made me shriek with gladness. Pile that on to a nice preview of Captain America and we’ve got ourselves a nicely developing franchise.