I’ll be the first to admit two things going into this review: I am unabashedly committed to any film that Marvel Studios puts out because I grew up when they had everything from card games to their own TV shows, and all of them were awesome. Not blindly loyal, just committed to giving a chance to stories that I might not otherwise give a chance to.
The other? Out of them all I know the least about Thor, and he’s pretty low on the list of heroes who interest me.
That said, put him on the big screen and I was pretty impressed.
Thor isn’t going to melt your face with creative storytelling, but at this point any Marvel origin film looks pretty much the same: introduce a hero before he learns a lesson that unlocks his true greatness, have him learn a lesson, unlock his true greatness. Repeat. Profit.
But in the case of these films it’s not the journey, it’s how you get there. I’m fully aware how redundant that seems, but allow me to explain.
Given how Marvel has built its franchises there are only a few ways heroes originate, and the easiest way to make a hero quickly relatable is to saddle him with the task of redemption after he makes a mistake. We’ve all made mistakes, we’ve all searched for redemption at one point or another, we can all relate.
The point is that I know what the journey is going to be, how you entertain me with it is what makes these movies sink or swim. Even if, as in this case, the dude we’re relating to is the statuesque Norse God of Thunder who lives in space (yeah, I don’t really get that either).
So it is that we find ourselves relating to Thor (Chris Hemsworth), a god and fallen prince who must learn that haste makes waste for a man who is to be king. His father King Odin (Anthony Hopkins) banishes him to Earth from his home of Asgard after he attempts to start a war in a fit of temper, hoping that he will learn humility and other traits of leadership after spending time as a mortal in another realm.
But in the case of these films it’s not the journey, it’s how you get there. I’m fully aware how redundant and nonsensical that seems, but allow me to explain.
The movie is undoubtedly stilted by Hemsworth, who is phenomenal as Thor. It may be an oxymoron to some that a virtual unknown could be phenomenal in a role that is so corny and outlandish when you break it down to what it is – a space-Viking with wings on his helmet swinging a hammer – but that makes it no less of a fact.
This is the role he was born for, as his towering build is only overshadowed by his deadpan delivery of even the most ridiculous lines in the most ridiculous circumstances. At the end of the day he’s just plain entertaining in the role, and we pay money at the movies for that reason – to be entertained.
The beauty of the film is that the ridiculousness is not a circumstance of poor scripting or bad effects, but rather of self-awareness. Thor puts its title character in interesting positions intentionally, positions where a man who was a god in another world has to struggle through living a mundane existence without the servants, powers, and social conventions that he’s used to. Again, the results are entertaining.
My biggest qualm came in the forced relationship between Thor and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), a physicist who is more stunning than any physicist I’ve ever seen (though I admit to having not seen that many). It was almost as if the relationship between them only existed to give Thor a reason to come back to Earth when The Avengers hits theatres next year, and there was basically no chemistry between the two at all. Even that angle was limited however, so it didn’t cripple the film as badly as it could have.
The best way I could describe Thor is harmlessly enjoyable. Hemsworth is a great mix of hilarious and imposing, it’s a good popcorn movie at worst, and a can’t-miss for anyone who considers themselves a Marvel geek.
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