Sunday, May 8, 2011

Movie Review: "Thor" (spoilers)

I saw the new move Thorlast night, in 3D no less.  Here's my review...

The Good

It was an action-packed, enjoyable movie that was rarely dull.  The creators of the film did a good job developing the motivations of the main divine (alien?) characters (Odin, Thor, Loki).  Both Thor and Loki desire to emulate and/or impress their father, driving Thor to behave in a belligerent manner toward the Frost Giants and Loki toward treachery.

I liked Tom Hiddleston's performance as Loki and his gambit, which involves betraying Asgard to the Frost Giants and later betraying the Frost Giants himself.  His deception of Thor when he is in exile on Earth was also clever.  I also liked how he attempted to claim the hammer himself when visiting the SHIELD base.

As far as mortals are concerned, Stellan Skarsgård's portrayal of Dr. Erik Selvig, mentor of astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) was quite humorous, both when he gets Thor out of SHIELD custody and later when he and Thor engage in a drinking contest.

The battle in which the Lady Sif and the Warriors Three face off against the Destroyer was tactically well-planned.  It makes sense for the Warriors Three, who are men and in the case of Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) fairly physically substantial, to bear the brunt of the robot's attacks while the physically weaker (but I assume quicker) Sif sneaks around and takes the Destroyer by surprise.

The arrival of Sif and the Warriors Three on Earth, in their attention-grabbing Asgardian outfits, was really funny.  The townsfolk look at them like they're freaks and the SHIELD agents watching Foster and her team openly wonder if the Renaissance Faire has come to town.

The Asgardians being extraterrestrials with advanced technology who were mistaken for gods by primitive humans makes more sense than them actually *being* the Norse pantheon, as I believe the case was in the comics.  I also liked the scientific jargon Foster used to describe how they traveled between worlds, as well as Thor's astrophysical explanation for the World Tree being a constellation of some kind containing the different Norse realms (planets rather than planes of existence).

I liked the mythology references, like when Odin arrives at Jotunheim to retrieve Thor and his friends and he's riding an eight-legged horse--Odin's horse in Norse myths, Sleipnir, had eight legs.

I also liked how Heimdall told Thor that Foster was searching for him and we then see Foster using her gadgets linked to SHIELD technology to search space for Asgard's star.  That was done well.  Sif's facial expressions indicating she's interested in Thor romantically are also a nice touch, considering both she and Foster were love interests for Thor in the comics.

Finally, the scene where the locals find Thor's fallen hammer and establish a carnival/barbecue around the site while they try to pull it out of the ground (even using a pickup truck and chains at one point) was downright hilarious.  Usually when there's an alien landing or something like that, the government arrives immediately and takes control of the site.  Having the local rednecks find it first and what they try to do with it was one of the more original elements of the film.

The Bad

Foster developing feelings for Thor like she does seemed rather quick.  It is foreshadowed--when Thor sets off toward his hammer's landing site by herself and the others abandon him, she is the last to do so and keeps looking at him--but it's not clear what the basis for it is.

Is it just physical attraction (which I can buy--at a female friend's birthday party in which I was one of the few males, the girls went on at length about actor Chris Hemsworth's musculature), the fact he represents proof of her theories (which Portman said in an interview were viewed as crazy by most of Foster's scientific peers), respect for his willingness to sacrifice himself for the others that he develops later, or some combination thereof?

Selvig does describe her late father as being a man who never listened and Thor admits he is like this as well.  Is there some Electra complex going on here?

The above musings do represent a good basis, but I think the whole thing was done a bit quickly.  It didn't harm the film much.

Also, SHIELD releases Thor, who has invaded their complex and beaten the hell out of a lot of their soldiers, into Selvig's custody despite Selvig's explanation for what happened being clearly nonsense and them knowing the ID Selvig supplied for Thor being fake.  Agent Phil Coulson, the SHIELD man in charge, does tell his minions to follow Selvig and the others--is his goal to somehow find evidence to justify arresting Foster and her intern, since they don't have trespassing and multiple counts of assault and battery (Thor) and forgery (Selvig) to justify that?

We later see SHIELD agents in the town, indicating that the orders are at least being carried out.  It might have been better to have them eavesdropping on Thor's conversation with Foster and relaying what was being said to SHIELD.  Maybe some SHIELD subordinate objects to Thor being freed and Coulson points out that he wasn't very talkative--then when they're recording his conversation with Foster, Coulson can look at his subordinate and be all, "See?"

Developing the characters of the Warriors Three would have been better.  The only one who seems to get much development is Volstagg, a glutton and general party animal.

Finally, an explanation for why Bifrost simply could not be rebuilt might have made Thor's sacrificing his future with Foster to prevent the destruction of Jotunheim more obvious.  I'm assuming the Asgardians built their city themselves, although their human appearance suggests they might be humans who've learned alien technology rather than being aliens.

Having Loki scream "WE DON'T KNOW HOW TO REBUILD IT!" just before he screams that Thor will never see Foster again would make this clearer.

The Verdict

Nine out of 10.  This was a fun movie.


  1. A really good thing with your review: you grasp the å!

    Hm... it is a bit confusing why it being hinted that Sif is romantically interested in Odin is a nice touch - she was, after all, not only a love interest of Thor in the comics, but also Thor's wife in the mythology.

  2. Maybe they didn't want to cram a love triangle between Thor, Sif, and Foster into the story, so hints like Sif's meaningful looks and inquiring about Thor's welfare after the return to Asgard were all they could fit.

    About the letter, I just copied and pasted. I think credit belongs to Wikipedia.

  3. Well, you wrote that it was hinted at a romantic interest in *Odin*, which is what confused me.

  4. Oops. Good eyes. I'll have to go fix that.