Directed by: Kenneth Branagh || Produced by: Kevin Feige
Screenplay by: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne || Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgard, Colm Feore, Ray Stevenson, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Rene Russo, Anthony Hopkins
Music by: Patrick Doyle || Cinematography: Haris Zambarloukos || Edited by: Paul Rubell || Country: United States || Language: English
Running Time: 114 minutes
Marvel Studios’ Thor is the perfect definition of a mediocre-at-best movie whose brand recognition, marketing, and shallow, effects-driven appeal elevated it to box office success it had no business achieving. After the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) successful debut with Iron Man in 2008, Marvel quickly followed with The Incredible Hulk (2008) a little over a month later, which remains the lowest grossing film of the MCU (~$263 million) to date. Seemingly scrambling to regain the momentum conjured by Jon Favreau’s miraculous $585 million debut, a rushed, sloppily put together Iron Man 2 (2010) was released two years later. Amidst all this, however, Marvel continued to develop the other two key components in their now world-famous Avengers (2012, 2015) saga, Thor and Captain America. Given how rushed and forgettable seemingly every Marvel standalone film was after Iron Man and before The Winter Soldier (2014), it’s amazing how successful the franchise has become in hindsight, the box office returns of the original Iron Man and The Avengers notwithstanding.
But then again, that’s the power of brand recognition, an unlimited marketing budget, and endless series of loud, seizure-inducing special effects. If this year’s Captain America: Civil War (2016) is the pinnacle of the MCU thus far, Thor is most certainly the bottom of the barrel. General audiences somehow are under the perpetual impression that good movies always make money, and bad movies don’t.
Cinephiles, pause for laughter.
Anyhow, if you can’t tell I didn’t care for the original Thor movie, the highest grossing non-Iron Man standalone of Marvel’s “Phase One,” let me clarify my stance: Thor is a lame movie. It occasionally entertains, but is mostly just, well… lame.
Most of Thor’s problems have nothing to do with its script; it’s a relatively competent story as far as basic, character-driven narratives go, despite some confusing motivations with the villain, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, in its final act. Thor himself is a one-note protagonist, but Chris Hemsworth plays him well and he has decent dialogue. Thor’s arc is satisfactory, transitioning from a cocky upstart in Asgard to a humbled fish-out-of-water on earth to regaining his powers and self-respect after defeating his rival Loki. Most everything wrong with the film stems from the screenplay’s transition to the screen; the film’s direction is lazy and hackneyed. Most every action scene begins with a dutch angle for no reason at all, the CGI is cartoony and fake-looking, and the numerous action scenes in the film’s final half hour are edited into oblivion.
Thor could have survived mediocre special FX (… how do you have middling CGI on a $150 million budget?) and sloppy action if its main character was memorable or if its supporting cast was up to par, but alas. Hemsworth is amusing enough, as I said, and Tom Hiddleston is as charismatic as always, but everyone else is bland. Natalie Portman is a flatline, Idris Elba is barely in the film, Anthony Hopkins has nothing to work with, and Colm Feore is irritating. This is arguably the worst supporting cast of any MCU film yet… except maybe Thor
: The Dark World 2 (2013). If Hemsworth’s protagonist had more depth to him than a goofy, muscled, fish-out-water archetype, his character could’ve saved this movie.
Aside from a couple humorous gags after Thor arrives on earth, and some cornball dialogue by Hiddleston and Hemsworth in their characters’ final confrontation, there’s not much else to discuss. Thor isn’t a terrible or offensive film, but there’s nothing notworthy or memorable about it either. It’s occasional laughs and Hemsworth’s admirable performance are not worth nearly two hours of dutch angles and loud, incoherent computer FX. Pass.
SUMMARY & RECOMMENDATION: Thor is ruined by haphazard action-direction, poor special FX, lackluster supporting characters, and a plethora of hamfisted dialogue. It’s not worth watching for a tad more context while watching The Avengers.
— However… Thor’s story is formulaic but works well enough on its own. Hiddleston and Hemsworth do what they can with the material and have some funny moments between them.
—> NOT RECOMMENDED
? A movie solely dedicated to Thor adjusting to normal civilian life on earth, now that would be worth watching.