Saturday, September 08, 2012

Thor (2011) ***

Of all the superhero movies to watch, you would have to figure this would be, hands down, the dumbest one; and you would be right.  It really is a story about Thor, Norse thunder god and son of Odin, coming down to earth to meet some girls, have a little R&R, and save the planet.  And yet, the film actually kind of works.
At least half the movie takes place on other planets or dimensions, in Asgard, the home of the Norse gods, and Jotunheim, home of the frost giants.  You have to hand it to the filmmakers; they really don’t skimp on the Norse mythology.  They detail the epic war between the gods and the giants, and the uneasy peace that follows.  Then Thor (Chris Hemsworth), foolishly breaks that peace, setting the stage for another war.  Odin is so angry at the vain, impulsive Thor’s folly that he casts him down to earth and wedges his hammer in a rock, with an incantation that Thor won’t be able to retrieve it until he becomes worthy.
Now you might think Thor would speak Swedish or Norwegian, but conveniently he is fluent in English, which works out well when he makes landfall in the western U.S. and gets picked up by cute girls.  Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings are the least convincing scientific researchers ever.  They are both good actresses, but they make no sense in this movie.
Fortunately, none of that matters, because the movie is all about Thor, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and Thor’s Asgardian entourage, and they all kick ass.  In fact, “Thor” is actually two movies squished together.  The longer, dominate one is full of gods and ice monsters who all take themselves way too seriously, but are still kind of awesome.  The second movie, where some earthlings are in peril, is smaller, lamer, and really kind of insignificant.  The only notable aspect of this second movie is that it introduces a government agency called S.H.I.E.L.D., which presumably will play a role in later comic-book movies, including “The Avengers,” which I haven’t seen yet.  (They even give us a peek at Jeremy Renner as the bow-and-arrow toting Hawkeye.)
Make no mistake, “Thor” is as dumb as they come.  The movie has no deeper subtext, and this is not a cult classic.  Still, all the major players give the impression of having a splendid time, and despite my doubts, I had a pretty good time, too.

3 stars out of 5

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