It’s a little underwhelming.
Maybe it’s due to the large amount of good press that the movie has received, but I was a bit unimpressed. It isn’t a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it isn’t the best that Marvel Studios have come up with. I certainly don’t view it in higher terms than Iron Man, or even The Incredible Hulk.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the heir the realm of Asgard, a realm across the stars. However, when his reckless ways threaten to re-ignite an old conflict with the Frost Giants, his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) banishes him without his powers to Earth where he runs into astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). While Thor is struggling on Earth, his Machiavellian brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) plots to take over in Asgard.
The movie trips along nicely, and has no real pacing problems. However, I think the movie suffers from trying to have its cake and eat it too. Both plot lines, the high epic fantasy stuff in Asgard and the more human plot on Earth, could have been good movies. But, being intermingled, they lose a little something. I wonder if it would not have been a better choice to have this entire first movie in Asgard, ending with Thor’s banishment, but I understand that all of these films are being orbited around the upcoming Avengers. As it is, Thor’s banishment on Earth is a sequence that seems a little stunted and pedestrian, the Norse God’s acclimatization being very rapid.
Hopkins is great as the fatherly overseer but Hiddleston is the stand-out playing a fantastic mischievous trickster. He’s an effective villain largely thanks to his performance, playing him as the illegitimate son who has been wronged, who lashes out at his loved ones as a result. In fact, the whole thing is basically the sub-plot of King Lear: Odin is Gloucester, Thor the loved legitimate son Edgar and Loki, the illegitimate, devious Edmund who turns father against son.
Hemsworth does the job he’s set, with his character not exactly having a huge emotional range to display. Portman is underwhelming in her role, the romantic sub-plot between her and Hemsworth being portrayed just as an unconvicing sideshow. None of the supporting cast really shines, or has anything that important to do. I think the film does suffer from an abundance of unnecessary characters, like the Warriors Three, who don’t really do anything within the plot or the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo of Hawk-Eye, that only the more knowledgable comic-book fans will actually recognise (I didn’t, someone had to point it out). Agent Coulsen (Clark Greggs), a fan favourite, takes a step back here from his more amusing Iron Man 2 role, being little more than the government suit. Also disappointing is the limited use of accomplished actor Colm Feore, unrecognisable underneath layers of make-up, in the role of King of the Frost Giants.
The film is visually spectacular, Asgard being a gorgeous, golden CGI fest and the “Destroyer” offering an acceptable fight scene, if a little short. Costumes are fine, music is average, being honest.
Thor just didn’t suck me in like Iron Man or Incredible Hulk did. It might be something to do with the alien nature of it, or the lackluster Earth sequences. Perhaps it’s that so much of the film seems like set-up for The Avengers.
Either way, I think this movie could have been a lot bigger and I don’t think it will age well. And moreover, I’m not sure that a direct sequel can be much better.
Not bad, not great either.