(WARNING. SPOILERS. A LOT OF THEM. MAYBE NOT TOO MANY, CONSIDERING I HAVEN’T REALLY SEEN THE MOVIE. SO DON’T CRY IF YOU DIDN’T REALLY WANT TO KNOW THAT THING ABOUT THAT PART IN THOR THAT HAPPENS IN MINUTE 30. BECAUSE IT’S IMPORTANT. AND WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE AND THE LIVES AROUND YOU FOREVER. NOT ALL OF YOU WILL MAKE IT OUT OF THE THEATER WITH YOUR LIMBS INTACT DUE TO THIS REVELATION. THANKS. AND STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM SOMETHING BORROWED. YOU WERE GOING TO ANYWAY. NEVER MIND THEN. HOPE YOUR MOM’S DOING WELL BECAUSE IT’S MOTHER’S DAY AND YOU REALLY SHOULD CALL HER ONCE IN A WHILE BECAUSE SHE MISSES YOU A LOT.)
After seeing the trailer(s) to Thor late last year, I didn’t think it looked all that promising. Why? Because it’s about a guy (sorry, god) who fights with a really big hammer and has a hat with feathers. While that may work in a comic book, its translation to live action may just end up goofy. On the positive side, I do remember thinking Thor could be good… in comparison to Captain America. Why? Because he’s dressed like an American Flag, and while that might work in comic book, its transla… you get the idea.
After having seen director Kenneth Branagh‘s breezy non-Shakepearean 130-minute adaptation (with writing credits going to about 6 different people, including myself for contributing the line “I’ll be very Thor-ough when I beat your bitch ass with my hammer”), well… with last weekend’s Fast Five and Thor, Summer 2011 is already better then Summer 2010.
(SPOILER– KEANU REEVES IS AL PACINO’S SON AT THE END OF THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE. APPARENTLY, DADDY AL DIDN’T PASS ON THE “ACTING” GENE TO SON KEANU. AND AL PACINO IS THE DEVIL. WHICH HELPS EXPLAIN THE TITLE.)
Thor opens in New Mexico, a place that is no stranger to unexplained events. Astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is looking at monitors chock-full of swirly colors because that’s what Astrophysicists do in movies to make their jobs seem interesting. Along for the ride are Erik (Stellan Skarsgard) and that girl from Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.
After what seems like hours nothing has happened, almost like watching Dogville, except a swirly thing opens up from the sky and freaks everyone out. Jane starts driving around trying to avoid said swirly thing. But it’s not trying to kill them. It’s merely trying to drop a buff blond guy from the sky, making some lonely girl’s fantasy come alive. But instead, Jane hits him with the truck.
How did he get there? Because muscular blond guys don’t normally fall out of the sky unless it’s in Old Maid masturbation scenarios. A well-timed flashback will answer that question right about… now.
(SPOILER– MATTHEW LILLARD AND SKEET ULRICH ARE THE KILLERS IN SCREAM, MARKING THE LAST TIME YOU CARED ABOUT A MOVIE WITH MATTHEW LILLARD AND SKEET ULRICH.)
The movie opens (again) in Asgard (stop sniggering). We hear Anthony Hopkins‘ Voice Over (Morgan Freeman was busy) doing necessary, but dense exposition so we can get back to Jane and the blond guy.
Asgard is in a war with the Frost Giants. I know, but onscreen they look better than the harebrained name “˜Frost Giants’ implies. King Odin Allfather (Anthony Hopkins, not just doing voice-over work but body-
acting work as well) fought the Frost Giants and defeated them. With the victory, Odin took the Frost Giants’ Casket of Ancient Winters, which is a glowing MacGuffin box with a lot of power in it. It’s important. That’s all that matters. End of exposition.
It’s a great day in Asgard and King Odin’s lone working eye is gleaming. It’s the day his son Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is about to be made King of Asgard while other son Loki (Tom Hiddleston, a cross between Hugh Grant and Data from Star Trek) looks on, maybe a little bit jealous. But before Thor can be crowned King, an alarm sounds.
Beings are after Casket of Ancient Winters. They must be stopped.
(SPOILER– JESUS DIES AT THE END OF THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST… OR DOES HE?)
Thor and some of his warrior friends prevent the Casket with the Dumb Name from being stolen. Nice save everyone. But who could have done this, gotten past Asgard’s defenses and gotten so close to the Casket that Everybody Wants?
Thor wants to know the answer. Actually, knowing that is secondary. He just wants to beat up a bunch of Frost Giants with his Hammer Mjolnir. Yes, his hammer has a name. His hammer actually has two names, but only Thor knows the second one because he only uses it when he’s alone with Mjolnir.
Thor wants to take and army to Jotunjeim (WTF is up with these names?) and give Frost Giants and other Jotunjeimers an Ass(gard) kicking they’ll never forget. His dad did it before, why not him?
Odin expressly forbids Thor from going to Jotunjeim. I, along with my spellcheck feature, don’t want Thor to go either, simply because I don’t want to have to write the word Jotunjeim again.
Thor defies Odin and takes Loki, a band of his merry bearded men, and one hot girl all the way to (aw fuck, not again) Jotunjeim.
There’s damage done on both sides, but Odin rides in to save the day.
(SPOILER– AT THE END OF THE KING’S SPEECH, COLIN FIRTH MANAGES TO OVERCOME HIS STUTTER THANKS TO GEOFFREY RUSH COATING HIS THROAT WITH INSPIRATION. WHAT A FUCKING SHOCK. IN THE SEQUEL, RUSH WILL TEACH KING GEORGE SOME URBAN DANCE MOVES SO MAYBE THEY’LL HAVE A CHANCE AGAINST THOSE STREET KIDS FROM HARLEM WHEN THEY GO TO DANCE WARS TO SAVE THE ORPHANAGE FROM BEING TORN DOWN BY GREEDY LAND DEVELOPERS.)
When they get back to Asgard, Odin is pissed because Thor disregarded his orders, even after he wagged his finger with great authority. Odin takes away his Hammer and strips him of all his godly powers. He then banishes Thor to Earth and doesn’t let him use the car for two weeks knowing that Thor wanted to go to the lake with Jennifer Parker on Saturday.
Now Thor’s on Earth, but with no powers, no spiffy red cape, and no Mjolnir to sleep next to on those cold and lonely Earth nights. If he had arrived 15 minutes earlier Thor could have seen a screening of Dylan Dog, but it disappeared from theaters faster than a Saw sequel.
Oh yeah, and Natalie Portman is about to hit him with a truck.
But the pretty young astrophysicist will be one of the bright spots on Thor’s earthly stay, despite her lousy driving habits. It seems that Thor better guard his humanized ass because Loki may have set his beady little eyes for Asgard’s throne, even if it means disposing of Odin himself.
What works with Thor:
1) Chris Hemsworth- though he’s not given much to do in terms of acting except be in full badass mode, Hemsworth has the makings of a major star as he’s got charisma up the yang, more than most actors of his generation. If future roles show he has some range as well, Hemsworth can have a viable career post-Thor. Too bad the best role was given to…
2) Tom Hiddleton- It’s not a surprise that the villain gets the best part, but Hiddleton underplays everything perfectly, making the ludicrous premise of Thor (they’re gods, but they eat and braid their hair just like humans) just a little bit more believable and fun. There are times when you wish Loki was just a little less low key, but I guess it’s always good to leave them wanting more.
3) Yes, since it’s a Marvel movie there is a credit cookie, and while this one isn’t my favorite (Iron Man 1 is still the best), it’s a nice segue to The Avengers. If it ever gets made.
4) GORT. I don’t know what else to call it but… GORT. Sure, he’s a little dorky, but I and more than a couple of my fellow audience members couldn’t help smiling nonetheless. Summer entertainment at its most
What doesn’t work:
1) 3D- No surprise there. No, Thor isn’t Clash of the Titans or Last Airbender in terms of 3D uselessness, and yes, there is more than 1 cool 3D shot, and by “more than 1″ I mean 2, but in today’s wintry economic climate, 3D really doesn’t add much to Thor‘s overall experience. Unless you want to see Natalie Portman look into a monitor… in 3D!!! Or Stellan Skarsgard pick up a library book… in 3D!!! Or Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) talk into a phone…in 3D!!!
2) Though it’s nice to see Rene Russo (looking good) back onscreen, she’s not really given anything to do in terms of screen time and importance to the story. That last sentence was longer than Russo’s time in the movie
Overall. An engaging diversion despite its minor pacing issues, Thor is grand Summer fun and makes one almost think that Captain America won’t be feeble. Almost. But if you can, see it in 2D. With the money you save, you might be able to get 0.0000001 gallon of gas on the way home. And be glad you didn’t have to read the words “Hammer Time” at all during this article.