PG Cooper: Thor Review

Posted: May 14, 2011 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

Release date: May 6th, 2011

Written by: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, and Don Payne

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, and Anthony Hopkins

Let’s go back to 2008 when we all saw Iron Man. Like most, I thought it was a good summer film and one of the better films in the comic-film genre. Then I heard about the post credit sequence. After I search on Youtube, I saw the now famous scene of Sam Jackson as Nick Fury mentioning “the Avengers initiative”. Holy crap, an Avengers movie. A legitimate, live-action Avengers movie, set up by preceding films highlighting the individual heroes. Sounds awesome right?

Well…it was awesome at first. Iron Man was great after all. That same summer though, we got The Incredible Hulk. While the film wasn’t anything special, I did enjoy it for what it was. But audiences and critics weren’t impressed, and Marvel studios seems to have brushed it under the rug (including taking Ed Norton out of The Avengers which really annoys me, but that’s a rant for another day). Following that, we got Iron Man 2. I was pretty hyped for the film since so many superhero sequels surpass the original film. Unfortunately, the film was a mess and most of the film’s major problems stem from it’s connection to The Avengers. At this point, my excitement for The Avengers started dwindling fast. And the trailers for both Thor and Captain America weren’t really changing that. Which brings me to the film I saw this afternoon. Does Thor continue the tradition of disappointing Marvel films, or does it put “the Avengers initiative” back on the right track.

The story is pretty basic. Asgard is treated as another Universe, where Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is King. He has two sons; Thor and Loki (Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, respectively). Only one can take Odin’s place though, and it seems that’s Thor’s destiny. While Loki tries to hide it, it’s clear that he wants to be King feels he is inferior to Thor. On the day Thor is to be crowned King, the ceremony is interrupted when a group of Frost Giants, former enemies of the Asgardians, break into Asgard. Angered, Thor leads a small group of allies in an attack on the Frost Giants home planet, directly defying his Father’s specific instructions. To punish Thor, Odin strips Thor of his power and sends him to Earth. Thor has to find a way back to Asgard, but Loki has his own plans (and no, me revealing Loki is the villain is not a spoiler).

Right off the bat, the film had impressed me with the very impressive visual effects and just the whole look of the film. Maybe the film’s biggest challenge was gonna be making Asgard look believable and not completely silly. The film does just that though. Asgard looks incredible. It’s a very creative looking world and the effects team did a great job making everything come to the screen. The costumes all look great too. Before the film came out, I remember seeing stills from the film and to me, the costumes look silly. But when you see them in motion, they work very well.

Like most super hero films, Thor is packed with action. And I gotta say, I loved every second of it. The opening battle where we see Thor go against the Frost Giants is really exciting and shows off just how awesome Thor, Loki, and their allies are. It’s a great scene, and had me thinking several times, “Damn that’s cool!” Another great action scene is one where we see the Destroyer go through a rampage in a small town. Oddly enough, the action moment I found the most exciting is the scene most have found the most disappointing, the climax. While not nearly as cool as the opening fight, the climax does have a lot more drama going on and you feel a much bigger risk.

So I’ve talked about the great effects and action scenes, but Iron Man 2 had that too, but it failed on the story front. Why? Well, among other things, way too much Avengers stuff crammed in. And there is a lot of Avengers stuff in this film as well. But the difference is in Thor, it’s all handled very well. It never feels out of place or awkward, it all compliments the story and doesn’t interrupt the flow. Ironic that the film about a God of thunder with a magic hammer handles the government aspect of the story better than the film about the rich weapons manufacturer with the advanced suit.

The thing that worried me the most about Thor was I wasn’t sure how the lead actors would do. The hero and villain of the film were both played by unknown actors and I had no idea if either of the two could deliver a solid performance. But both did an excellent job. I’ll start with Thor. At the beginning, Thor is very arrogant and hot headed. I even heard my dad mumble, “He’s a pompous ass isn’t he” in the theater. My dad’s not wrong, but in spite of that, you like him anyway. He may be arrogant, but he’s never really a dick to anyone. It also helps that while Thor is definitely brass, he isn’t a mindless brute. In fact, he’s actually pretty smart. Besides, after that initial Frost Giant fight, you’re in complete awe of him and see why he’s so arrogant. After all, if you were the all-powerful God of thunder, ripped out of your mind, soon to become King of Asgard, you’d probably be pretty arrogant too.

But all that changes when Thor is sent to earth. Powerless, Thor begins to learn humility and sees he isn’t perfect. Most of this is done through his interaction with the three scientists who find him (Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgard, and Kat Dennings). It’s through scenes with them that we see Thor develop as a character. One of the most satisfying elements of the film is just watching Thor change. By the end of the film, you really believe he’s learned from his mistakes and become a better person. Super hero films rest entirely on the super hero. If you don’t care about the hero then the whole movie fails. But Thor is very likable and you do root for him.

On the opposite end we have the villain, Loki. I just wanna say right now I thought he was a brilliant villain. He’s interesting because he’s actually a very tragic character. He isn’t trying to be evil, and you actually see things from his point of view. I couldn’t help but sympathize with his character and wonder how different things might have turned out had Odin chosen Loki to be King. His relationship with Thor is a big part of the film, and it makes the climax very emotional. It’s sad because you do get a sense that at one point, these two brothers really did love each other, and in some ways still do. Personally, I think the villains in these Avengers films have all been kinda weak. But Hiddleston’s Loki is anything but. I’d even go so far as to say he’s the best villain in any comic film since The Joker and Two-Face in The Dark Knight.

The rest of the supporting cast is pretty good here too. Anthony Hopkins especially stands out as Odin, and his relationship with Thor and Loki is one of the film’s most interesting attributes. All of Thor’s allies, both Earthling and Asgardian, were fun characters and for the most part never annoyed me. Natalie Portman plays the main love interest, and she had a lot of chemistry with Hemsworth. I do think that they play up the love story a bit too much near the film’s end, but this is a minor quibble, especially considering the two played off each other so well.

One of the best things about the film is just how well it manages to balance different things. Director Kenneth Branagh did a greatĀ  job capturing the tone. Thor balances being fun, action-packed, dramatic, and humorous. There are moments where the humor gets to be a bit much, and things get a bit too goofy. But overall, there’s a fine mix.

Thor is hardly perfect. The love story gets to be a little cheesy, sometimes the film is silly, there’s a few silly lines, and there’s even some slight deus ex machinas thrown in. But in spite of this, Thor is still a total blast. I’m happy to say I’m really excited for The Avengers again, and I couldn’t help but smile when after the credits we got a message saying, “Thor will return in The Avengers” followed by an awesome post credits sequence. It may be to early too say, but I’d say this tops Iron Man has the best Avengers movie so far. If the rest of the comic book films this year are half as good as Thor, than it’s gonna be a good Summer.

Rating: B+

Comments
  1. ianthecool says:

    I don’t think the love story was played up as much as you’re saying. And I don’t think the story is all that basic. There’s a lot of family stuff going on there.

    • pgcooper1939 says:

      When I said basic, I more ior less meant it was easy to follow.

      And I thought the love story was fine, it wasn’t until near the end where I thought the movie tried to make it feel bigger than it really was. Minor quibble though.

  2. ianthecool says:

    Yeah, right at the end I guess they did. I can see that.

  3. CMrok93 says:

    I had a real good time with this and I wasn’t expecting to but this really kept my interest. Mostly because the tone was so light and very simple. Can’t get any better than that. Good Review!

  4. 5plitreel says:

    The X-men origins previews and early reviews have been pretty darn good so that’s gonna continue on with the good comic book stride. It’s for sure going to hit a low with Green Lantern, it doesn’t look good at all. Captain America could be a surprise hit, I like the vintage feel it seems to have.

  5. I’d have wound up right around a B+ too (saw it before I started writing things up).

    I don’t know if I’d have said that this movie tops Iron Man though… gotta disagree there for sure.

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