By: Adam Basciano
Anyone who knows me and my affinity for comic books, knows that I am a DC Comics guy first and foremost. However, I dabble in the Marvel Universe as well, and have seen most, if not all, of the films under the Marvel banner. Having reviewed The Avengers, I thought I’d revist Thor and share my thoughts on it.
Both the comic book and this film are Marvel Comics’ take on the Norse mythology. For those who know nothing about either version, a Google search would be a good place to start. “The epic adventure THOR spans the Marvel Universe from present day Earth to the mystical realm of Asgard. At the center of the story is The Mighty Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. As a result, Thor is banished to Earth where he is forced to live among humans. When the most dangerous villain of his world sends its darkest forces to invade Earth, Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero.”
The films story alternates back and forth between the mythical Asgard and small town America. The shifting between the two drastically different locales gives the film the grand scale fantasy worthy of the God of Thunder, while rooting it firmly on earth, which is more typical of the standard superhero story. The three main action scenes were great. The battle with the frost giants had an epic Lord of the Rings type feel. The Thor versus the Destroyer battle looked like the cinematic love-child of Lethal Weapon and Twister, and the Thor versus Loki battle was the classic sibling rivalry with magic thrown in there. I also really enjoyed the production design. The contrast between Asgard and small town America really sells the grandiose aspect of Thor, and all that encompasses being the God of Thunder. As a Superman fan this was somewhat reminiscent of the Krypton/ Smallville dynamic from Superman: The Movie. As for the actors, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, and Anthony Hopkins are perfectly suited for their respective roles of Thor, Loki, and Odin. Also of note is the music for this film by Patrick Doyle. Not only is it the best Marvel Studios soundtrack, it also ranks in my top five list for superhero film scores.
While there is a lot to like about this film, I did have some issues with it. With a length of 1hr 48 minutes, the film is just far too short. The action scenes were exciting and visually engaging, but felt rushed. A slightly longer run time would have allowed for the three action set pieces to be expanded upon, making these strong action sequences even more visually arresting. Don’t get me wrong, the CGI and the actual action beats themselves were good, I just wish they were longer and that there was more of them. The short run time also affected certain characters and story elements. I thought Sif and the Warriors Three were under developed characters. Having read some of the comics, these characters are quite integral to the story. Here though, they feel like set dressing or a meaningless prop. You could essentially cut them out of the film, and it wouldn’t alter the plot at all. The other area where the film fell flat for me, was the romantic relationship between Thor and Jane Foster. Thor started out as more of a scientific interest for Jane. For a good while, there wasn’t even a hint of romance brewing. I found this exciting, as it broke away from the norm. Suddenly, the minute Thor tells her about Asgard and his mythology she fell madly in love with him. Seriously? I can buy that they’d fall for each other through the course of the franchise, with their feelings for each other growing stronger in each film, but this felt forced. What a waste of Natalie Portman’s acting talent. At that point, thanks to the writers, her character became more like love struck teenager bumbling over herself after a Justin Bieber concert, rather than a woman in the science field, as the character was intended to be.
Overall, Thor is an entertaining sci-fi/ action/ fantasy film that pleases the “Thor” fans and general audiences. Thor’s mythological roots make this more than the stereotypical superhero film, but its earth-bound scenes prevent it from being the epic it strives to be. In the pantheon of Marvel’s self – produced movies it falls short of the original Iron – Man, but is better than The Incredible Hulk. While I enjoy the shared universe Marvel Studios has created, I applaud the film-makers of Thor for focusing on creating a character piece for the titular character, rather than making a 2 hour infomercial for The Avengers a la Iron – Man 2. While Thor doesn’t necessarily break new ground in comic book film adaptations, it is a worthy addition to the genre.
Overall Grade: 7.5/10