Directed by Kenneth Branagh. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins.
OH MY GOD! No. The critics on Rotten Tomatoes may be raving about it (though most real viewers haven’t seen it yet since the US release date is May 6) but I am sorry, as a super hero fan I am appalled. I haven’t seen such cheesy theatrics, cheap sets and mind-numbing dialogue since 1987’s Masters of the Universe with Dolph Lundgren and even that I found charming. Okay cheesy charming but nevertheless.
After Iron Man and Hulk, Thor is the third instalment in Marvel’s line up of super charged heroes who will band together for their 2012 blockbuster The Avengers. Of course, Captain America will be the last (even though he is the ‘first’ avenger) to join in when that film releases in July this year with Chris Evans playing Cap. The studios aren’t using Ed Norton as Hulk preferring the still cerebral Mark Ruffalo. The Hulk films have never really hit home with audiences and I sincerely think it’s because they keep using CGI Hulks instead of a real life hunky Hulk (ah Lou Ferrigno, we miss you). I can’t comment on the Cap America movie but so far Iron Man is the only Marvel property I think is solid. And that’s squarely and surely because Robert Downey Jr is Jonathan Stark aka Iron Man.
I didn’t think much of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor as I’m sure there are many Thor fans who agree he just doesn’t fit the hammer. And after watching his stilted almost moronic take on the mighty god of thunder I am convinced that mistakes in casting big ticket super hero films like these will cost production companies valued fans. I think Hemsworth did a remarkable job in his small but crucial opening sequence as George Kirk in JJ Abrams’s successful reboot of Star Trek. But as the bearded, Viking speaking old English (thank you very much director Kenneth Branagh) and getting knocked down by cars like Rowan Atkinson would in the Bean series, I just found the whole thing slapstick and a bit of a parody.
Sure the CGI city of Thor’s home world of Asgard is pretty impressive (though Paramount didn’t deem fit to show us the 3-D Imax version; oh by the way it was shot in 2-D and then converted!) but I can say I’ve seen better stuff in films like Tron: Legacy and Alice In Wonderland, which are almost wholly shot with green screens and emotion capture technology.
So the story goes that hot headed Thor, son of Odin (Anthony ‘I’ll do any role now’ Hopkins) initiates a war between his people and the ice giants of some other unpronounceable realm. His brother Loki (the better actor in my opinion Tom Hiddleston) is jealous of Thor who is next in line for the thrown and manages to get Odin to banish him to Earth. Which is where he finds his love interest Jane (giggly Natalie Portman) and the mysterious SHIELD organisation get to play ‘link’ in the Avenger saga. Thor’s band of friends (what’s with the Japanese warrior?) from Asgard ultimately descends on Earth almost reminiscent of General Zod’s appearance in a desert town in Superman II. Their attire is similarly tacky-looking. Tut tut Academy Award-winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne.
With dialogue like ‘I want to make you proud father’ and ‘You have, my son’, I could only shudder at the clichés whilst watching Hemsworth rough up a couple of what looked to me like underpaid mall security guards. Where’s the might in that? Not impressed. Because Thor is larger than life. He’s massive; and inspite of the filmmakers’ feeble attempt at trying to prove Hemsworth is a beefcake, by giving him a shirtless scene I’m not impressed. Thor is not supposed to be funny or stupid. He’s a rock for god’s sake.
And, unlike the previous Hulk film that had a connect with the Avengers at the end with SHIELD and Downey’s Stark having a pow-wow, Thor seems to be given the step-brotherly treatment. There’s just a vague mention by Professor Andrews (Stellan Skarsgard) about a scientist he knows who pioneered gamma radiation (Dr Banner/Hulk). I half thought that Iron Man would swoop down to save Thor and his bumbling band of warriors but alas, more disappointment.
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