Reviews: Thor

Let's talk about Loki

We have plenty of reviews discussing Thor as a whole; I'd like to dedicate one to its most interesting and frustrating element: the villain. Superficially, Loki is just another Evil Prince, kind of like Scar. But what sets him apart from other villains is how likeable he is. While we can tell at a glance that Scar is evil, Loki spends a whole hour looking and acting like one of the good guys! His opposition to Thor — who behaves like an idiot — makes him easy to relate to. And the scene where he learns his true parentage is heartbreaking. By the time he assumes the Asgardian throne, the audience can't help but root for him.

And then it all goes wrong. Loki is revealed as deceitful, manipulative, and homicidal. Even worse, he gets stupid. He tells needless lies, and makes the same mistakes that got Thor banished. He goes from resentful to sociopathic, and from being Asgard's only sane man to its biggest nut case.

This is a remarkable waste of a great character. Loki becomes impossible to sympathise with, but too wangsty to take seriously. While menacing in The Avengers, he's kind of flatly evil — not the rounded, sympathetic villain he could have been.

In my opinion, there are two ways Loki could have been better developed:
  1. By spending more time on his descent into evil — taking the whole of Thor, if necessary. Instead of trying to impress Odin with his zany genocide scheme, he should have done what we all know he could: ruled Asgard, and done a darn good job of it! How much more unjust would his father's favouritism towards Thor have seemed??? Being passed over after a legitimate attempt to prove himself would have gotten Loki a lot more sympathy, and made it easier to relate to him when he actually went bad.
  2. By making him a good guy. Seriously. I know Loki's supposed to be a villain, but he could actually make a pretty interesting hero. He's basically Thor's Dark Is Not Evil/Good Is Not Nice counterpart, and the two of them have the best chemistry when they're working together. And having a darker, more introverted character along would add an interesting dynamic to group situations, too.

It's too late now for the first scenario, but maybe not for the second? It's the reason I'm still holding out hope for a redemption arc.

The Lion King but Average-er

Film/Thor is basically the plot of The Lion King. From the pasty faced physically weak but cunning villain, to the adjusting to the more laid back culture in exile to the eventual fate of the villain. There are scenes which reflect each other perfectly, like the villain and the hero circling each other in front of their mothers telling each other to confess, or when the old friends visit and tell the hero he's needed, but he refuses because of what he thinks he's done.

But the Lion King is a great film and these are strong powerful tropes that resonate through history. (Hamlet deserves a mention) But Thor makes almost of it feel very staid and by the book, all that is except Loki who completely sells his character as both the most interesting person in the film and as a flawed but frightening villain whose actions make sense from a certain point of view. In some ways the film sets up a strong need to see Loki redeemed, he wanted love and respect and allowed those actions to guide his weaker nature, but there is hope that this will be revisited in Thor 2.

So why is the rest so unexceptional? It's hard to tell completely. It's easy to see why the completely superfluous sidekick gang who barely get any lines and achieve nothing except getting quickly beaten up by an underwhelming monster don't make much of an impression. And likewise Odin lacks the gravitas he should have and even his armour looks plasticy. The middle conflict in the film is also equally low-scale and the stakes feel incredibly small.

But as to the rest? It plods along and goes to the places you expect and does the things you would expect it to do there. Perhaps the setting and the visuals give it it's ordinary tone, or the commonness of fish-out-of-water romances. Very little of Thor feels like it's something new or bringing anything to the table except filling time.

It does nothing offensive, Loki is great and it did a good job with Coulson's role in the Marvel universe. This is one of the few films that actually ends up being very important to the set-up of The Avengers (along with the Iron Man films or maybe Captain America) but even in that context Thor never really fills bigger or lively than the small country town most of it takes place in. It's an okay film, but it's no Lion King.

A fun flick, even if not for the reasons you'd think

Thor isn't really a superhero movie, at least any more than Disney's Hercules is. The movie is about a god having to prove himself worthy of his powers, rather than a regular person receiving superpowers by chance and having to decide how to use them. Even the film's use of the Three Act Structure is uncommon for its type, since the second act is the slowest and most character-oriented, while the others are the loudest and most bombastic.

The movie is a good introduction of the comic-Thor to new audiences. I don't know if it's actually loyal to he comics, but whether it is or isn't, it's a great stand-alone production for those who have no preconception about the story and characters. The only thing from the comics which is never explained is the concept of "Odin-sleep", which comes out of nowhere and seems like a cheap plot device.

The beginning is really weirdly paced, and over all, badly handled. After a cold open on Earth, there's a twenty-minute flashback to Thor's life on Asgard. The fact that there is a flashback at all, especially one so needless, was really distracting to me. The opening infodump isn't helped any by the fact that Sir Anthony Hopkins (as Odin) refuses to act, and sounds utterly uninterested in what he's narrating about. Hint for moviemakers: Get someone who cares to introduce the audience to your setting.

The movie picks up in the second act, when Thor arrives on Earth. There's some genuinely funny comic relief and interesting character moments. The human sidecast is mostly likeable, and the love interest manages to come off as a real person, even if she does fall for Thor all too quickly. The sideplot in Asgard is a bit wonky, but but luckily it doesn't drag on for too long. The third act is surprisingly minimalistic, with focus on personal drama and special effects rather than minion-smashing.

Loki's character annoyed me. Everyone who knows anything about the comics knows he'll be a bad guy, and all the newbies recognise his archetype the moment they see him. The movie manages to play with the audience for just a bit about whether Loki is actually a bad guy, but in the end they forsake all ambiguity. Would have been great to make him more tragic, rather than just whiny.

Overall, it's a good movie. Worth seeing for the second act. 3D was badly applied. See it without.

Thor is an absolutely atrocious movie.

This was a terrible movie. While being a comic book reader, I’ve never focused on the character of Thor much (and have never read any of his solo stories) and was looking forward to this movie as a proper introduction to his character. I left the cinema feeling angry about this movie – and I only paid 50 cents to see it. A major problem with this film is the characters. The entire earth supporting cast (the scientists) were completely superfluous to the plot, as in fact were most of the Asgard supporting cast (excluding Loki, Odin and Heimdall).

The real failure of this movie though comes from the abysmal attempt as characterisation and character development. While I can respect the writers starting off the character of Thor as a tantrum-throwing man child, all the explanation that is given for his change into a selfless hero comes from a girl he knew for as little as a week. While I don’t expect much from superhero movies with regards to romance subplots, this was amazingly badly executed (and took up a chunk of the movie) – F.Y.I guys, a “crazy, homeless guy” who calls himself a god of lightning and is much bigger than and is physically intimidating to you, kissing you on the hand would not be charming; it would be change-of-pants terrifying.

Another characterisation failure is that at one point during the movie Odin, the all-father, the ruler of Asgard, was about to hand over an entire realm of existence to what was, at the time, a destructive dumb brute. There is not even a reason for this plot-induced stupidity – it simply is.

There are some good points, though. Some of the comic relief was quite good, and some of the architecture was quite specky. The character of Loki was also done exceedingly well, until he is derailed in the third act to make him a more viable villain (at around the same time Thors character was similarly derailed to make him a viable hero). Though this in and of itself created problems in that Loki seemed as though he would have made (and did, at one point, make) a better ruler then Thor, and I was cheering for him for most of the movie.

In conclusion, this movie is not worth seeing. Most of the characters were bland, the characterisation was all over the place, the love-story was mind bogglingly boring and unbelievable, and to top it all of the fighting was bad. Do not go see this movie – it is simply not worth it.

It is what it is, and a little bit more.

One thing I do with movies is that I don't just watch them, I rewatch them. First impression: Thor is an entertaining summer film. Second impression: an entertaining film in which one can find subtext and subtlety with some effort.

The director's willing to let the camera find the significant details rather than tell you what's going on (the voiceover backstory intro notwithstanding). A shot of Thor on his knees looking at Mjölnir shows you why his Heroic BSOD goes from bad to worse, and is the only explanation for his character development in the second half of the movie. In a Michael Bay flick, this is a weakness; in Thor it works both for the "film" and the "summer flick" features. If you're not going to look for detail, you don't need it; the scene works perfectly because his failure is all you need. If you do like detail and do want the explanation, it's provided. In short, this film has something for everyone (But no Male Gaze. Though there is a shirtless scene for the ladies. And gay men.)

And for character arc, the three act structure sets that up fairly well. Thor spends thirty minutes proving he's a god, then thirty earning the right to be a god, then thirty proving he's a king. If you're here for action and messianic archetypes, look no further; the film hands them to you on a silver platter and you've got a fun evening. If you want to explore the character development wherein an old testament god becomes a new testament god by way of discovering his humanity, then it's right under the surface.

A theme of the movie is that Right Makes Might. A deeper theme is at Thor's aborted coronation: Mjölnir holds the power to create or destroy. It's not that you can fight, nor that you want to fight; it matters why you fight. To prove you can be a god, first you have to prove you can be a man. If you want to take a life, you should be prepared to give it.

As always, the most confusing (interesting) character is the villain. Why does Loki do what he does? Is it for the Lulz or the Evulz? Is he jealous of Thor or does he want to help him? Does he want to protect Asgard or destroy it? Whose approval does he seek? I suspect not even he knows, and that another film will explore it in depth. Mjölnir's duality is also embedded in Loki's conflicting inner selves.

Good but Far from Perfect

To start things off, I will admit I haven't read too much of the comics, but the reason being is that I was worried that they would butcher Norse Mythology, which I am a fan of. However, after seeing this film I much more interested in these comics.

I'm not going to go too in detail of this movie, but it was enjoyable. Much of the mythology was good, though obviously changed up a bit. The acting was great, and I find Chris and Tom do a good job together as Thor and Loki. The effects where nice, especially for Asgard and Jothunhiem. There was also many memorable jokes and scenes, and I loved the references to the other Avengers movies.

The story wasn't the greatest thing I've seen, but once again it was enjoyable and fun to watch. The romance subplot did seem rushed, while cute at times. The stinger also got me a bit hyped up for the Avengers movie that is coming out.

All in all, it was good but not great. It did it's job to get people a bit more familiar with Thor for the Avengers movie, as well as being pretty much advertisement for both that and the comics.

Cliche, but in a Positive Way

As a technical achievement, Thor stands just as strong as its brethren in the Marvel Cinemative Universe. The scenes in Asgard are just wonderful to look at, showing the more fantastical side of the universe and contrasting starkly against the icy wasteland of Jotunheim and the dusty New Mexico desert. The fights are good, the camera angles are used to good effect, and saying any more would be redundant because, as said, it's an MCU movie. No complaints to be had in the visuals.

Acting wise, it's also pretty spotless across the board, with both Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston making outstanding star turns as Thor and Loki respectively. Thor would be easy to play as overly bombastic and dense, but Hemsworth finds a way around it by playing both traits as more endearing than annoying, since there is more dimension to the character. He brightens up the screen with each appearance, in good contrast to Hiddleston. He plays Loki in a way that matches appearance to performance near-perfectly, cementing Loki as a memorable villain in the MCU. Loki's strategic know-how and his childish ego is a combination that can be hard to pull off, but thankfully, Hiddleston juggles these facets well while evoking sympathy whenever possible.

Now, this next bit mostly comes from someone else I heard, but it's true to a T: out of the other Marvel movies, or superhero movies in general, Thor is probably the most Disneyesque in its execution, from the plucky side characters to the highly fantastical backdrop to the fairy tale-feel of the romance between Thor and Jane. Some bits of graphic violence aside, the film is barely PG-13 in comparison to those other movies, and the story and character tropes can make it extremely predictable. Loki's character arc and S.H.I.E.L.D aside, Thor hardly plays up much moral greys or subtlety, and the conclusion feels pretty bittersweet in contrast to the light-hearted tone that had been set up. Whether or not the Disney touch is a detriment is a subjective issue, but to me, considering that the film is centered around myth-inspired spectacle, the match works just fine. It has as much heart and humor as any decent Disney animated film, and if you like that mixed with epic action, this shouldn't disappoint.

My kind of movie

Thor isn't a perfect film. But for people who prefer fantasy over sci-fi, who like character-driven plot as opposed to action, and those who have an interest in mythology, Thor is pretty good. And it's a lovely addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

There were two major issues for me. First, the way Thor's journey to Earth is shown could have been better handled, smaller flashbacks to retain a sense of mystery would be the best and most obvious fix for me. I also felt Loki's descent into villainy could have been more subtle- I felt his plan started too soon, but his character still remained pretty sympathetic. All in all, they managed to squeeze a fair chunk of comic history and Norse legend in one movie, and I think that's a pretty good achievement. An achievement that could have been better done, but I digress.

It is slow in parts and is narmy in places. However, the relationships between the characters are understood and given depth, and the actors do a brilliant job in their portrayals- Loki, Thor and Heimdall especially. Oh, and Darcy. Never forget Darcy. I still felt empathy towards characters, even when they were being stupid or selfish.

It's a fairly entertaining film, but it could have been a really good film. Still, it's fun enough to watch, and the characters are endearing. The acting is good enough that seeing Loki's breakdown is actually quite painful, and seeing Thor become a better person is heartwarming. I'd recommend at least trying it- it isn't everybody's cup of tea, but it's interesting and helps tie up some loose threads of the MCU.

Kenneth Branaugh returns to Scanadanavia and fails

Watching "Thor", I received a whole new experience that I never had while at the movie theater, and not in a good way.

It was the first time I had felt bored enough to text while watching a movie.

But, that's not start this review out being totally critical. Let's start with the good parts first:

I loved Loki. Now, I can barely tell between your middle school play lead and an Oscar winner (some with more refined taste might say that there's none) but I felt that was one of the best performances I've ever seen. His nuanced, submissive posture with the puppy-dog eyes look instantly captured me, despite me well knowing of his villainous comic book history. His deference and seeming timidness simply made him so sympathetic to me.

However, the good parts pretty much end there. None of the characters are likable as Loki is, perhaps not even combined. First, the movie starts of with Jane Foster, retooled as a physicist. Despite her talk of her supposed love of physics and her reference to Arthur C. Clarke's famous magic and technology line, nothing about her seemed remotely intelligent at all. Then we have two other characters, her mentor-advisor and their assistant, who fail to contribute anything substantial to the plot.

The titular character is not much better. I'm not too familiar with his original personality, but whoever this is in the movie is complete jerk, who recklessly endangers his kingdom with his group of god buddies (who seem to lack names) like some stereotypical bonehead. He is supposed to become heroic, but nothing in the movie actually seems like it would give a well-written character development. So he changes because of...magic?

The absolute worst part of this movie was the attempted romance. Natalie Portman's character and Thor have absolutely no chemistry whatsoever, but it appears that it's her love is what changes Thor's ways for the better. I think Twilight did the romance better.

For someone who was allowed directed the masterpiece Hamlet, this is sure a disappointment. Sure "Thor" the comic book is no Shakespeare, but someone like Kenneth with such supposed ability should've been able to come up with something better.

Stupid, But Awesome

The thing about Thor is that it isn't a movie that can be taken very seriously. Despite the fact that I love it, I am willing to admit that it is far from perfect. But I do love this movie. SO much.

This is a goofy popcorn flick, plain and simple. While movies of that type can be hit or miss, for me, Thor hits just the right spot where it's stupid in parts, but you're too busy enjoying yourself to really care. That and it has Tom Hiddleston as Loki, who is by far the best character in the movie. So, if you're in the mood for something that you don't have to think about too hard, has spots of seriousness (mostly involving Loki) contrasting spots of awesome goofiness, and involves comic book characters beating up frost giants and smashing cups and other such antics, this is definitely the movie you should watch. If you DO want to think about it, try analyzing the Loki scenes. Trickster god and all that. You could write a thesis on how much he was planning/when he was and wasn't lying/his daddy issues/etc.

My one major complaint is that there were several scenes that would have really added to the movie, but got left on the cutting room floor (all of which can be found on You Tube if you're interested). There needs to be a Director's Cut or something.

An entertaining movie

It isn't difficult to find better comic book adaptations than Thor, however it is a mostly entertaining, easy-to-watch addition to the Marvel Film Universe. While most comic book films look at a man's journey into becoming a hero, Thor examines a hero's journey into becoming a man, and it is successful in portraying the character development Thor gets after being cast out of Asgard. The character development is arguably the strongest point of the movie, a quality it shares with the first Iron Man film. One can only hope that Thor doesn't have to learn not to be a jerk all over again in The Avengers and any possible sequels.

With Branagh as the director certain scenes can get a little hammy (ie any scene where people with accents raise their voices) but the performances mostly work and there are some great visuals in the film. Overall Thor is a solid start to this years blockbusters and a step in the right direction for The Avengers after the disappointing Iron Man 2. It should make fans happy and newcomers should give it a shot. 7/10