For the last decade Marvel Studios has been highly successful in bringing superheroes to the forefront of the mainstream consciousness. While established characters like Spider-Man and Wolverine have been the leaders of the box office blitzkrieg, less high profile characters like Iron Man have shown a propensity for box office domination as well. In fact, Iron Man’s success has fueled Marvel Studios current initiative of bringing The Avengers to life.
This all brings us to the experiment that is Thor. Thor is a simple tale of betrayal and redemption that just so happens to star the Norse god of Thunder (played by Chris Hemsworth). After a squabble with his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Thor is cast out of Asgard, the realm of the gods, and sent to live amongst the mortals on Earth. These events open the door for Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to make a play for the throne of the gods and reek havoc on the Nine Worlds. Thor must redeem himself in the eyes of his father and set about to thwart Loki’s plan.
If any of the above description made sense to you then congratulations you will at least follow along with the convoluted but thematically simple story. Worse than the convoluted dual realm storytelling is the fact that Thor fails as an action film and delivers what may be the most boring adaptation of a Marvel property since Ang Lee directed Hulk.
The fight scenes, sans one big battle early in the film, are devoid of any excitement. When Loki sends The Destroyer, a giant metal golem, down to Earth to eradicate Thor I expected a giant knock down drag out fight between Thor’s fellow Asgardians and the giant tin can of doom. Instead what is delivered are a couple of explosions that seem like they were filmed on the back end of a sound stage and some weak computer generated effects. The climactic battle scene at the end of the film is even worse as it is lacks any sense of tension.
While the film disappoints on the action front it does succeed in providing some good characterizations and lays a solid framework for next year’s Avengers movie. Hemsworth is quite believable as the Norse god of Thunder and I have little doubt he will be entertaining in the Avengers film. Natalie Portman delivers a solid performance as Thor’s human love interest, Jane Foster. In addition, the film gets some solid comic relief from Kat Dennings. In fact, the film is actually quite funny in parts, with some very clever one-liners sprinkled throughout the film.
Sadly, Thor is not meant to be a comedy, it is a superhero adventure that lacks any real adventure. Thor suffers from a lot of the same issues that Superman Returns did, the biggest of which is that characters with godlike abilities are hard to relate to and as such are generally less compelling. Thor is not a bad film but it also not particularly good. There will be many people who will leave the theater this summer and proclaim it a great film, but even more are going to leave the theater with a feeling of indifference. That is just not a good sign for the start of a new franchise.
3 out of 5.