Saturday, August 11, 2012


   Haters can hate, but we fans know the truth -- Joss Whedon is the king. From the science fiction goodness of Firefly to the tongue-in-cheek tunes of Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Whedon never seems to step wrong.

   Despite the knowledge that Joss Whedon would be directing Thor -- along with, strangely, Kenneth Branagh -- I could not put aside my apprehension about this project. The trailer promised lots of yelling, million-dollar special effects, a dewy-eyed Natalie Portman, and Chris Hemsworth's abs.

   Wasn't I, after all, a girl more interested in Lars Von Trier and Ingmar Bergman than mainstream action films? Wasn't I a fan of Simon Rumley? (The fact that you have no idea who this is hoists my argument considerably.) Who didn't like X-Men: First Class even as others gushed about it?

   I'm pleased to report, despite my apprehension -- and, dare I say it, pretensions -- Thor exceeded my expectations considerably. Yes, there was dewy-eyed romance, bazillion-dollar special effects, and perfectly physiqued A-listers (all the things I hate in a movie -- bah Humbug!)

   It's actually one of the first big-budget action/adventure movies I've really enjoyed in a long time. At the heart of the story are two brothers, Thor (Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who live with their parents, the king and queen (Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo) in the mythical land of Asgard.

   Loki wants the throne, and his brother stands in the way of him getting to it -- sound familiar? (i.e. Disney musical featuring an award-winning song performed by Elton John?) Anyway, Loki is allwed more depth than Scar, because what he really wants is his share of Dad's love, and he's always felt a little different from his royal family.

   Just as Loki is devious and back-handed, Thor has a superhuman dose of hubris. Let's consult the dictionary.

hubris- n. Overbearing pride or presumption: arrogance. 

   Yeah, that's Thor. He has so much hubris, in fact, that he refuses to back down from a fight, and in a roundabout way, Loki uses that against him, getting him kicked out of Asgard and cast into the human world.

   Enter a trio of meteorologists- Darcy (Kat Dennings), Erik (Stellan Skarsgård), and Jane (Natalie Portman), an attractive enough but frankly dull character who becomes Thor's love interest when he crashes to earth. Trapped in the human realm, Thor must learn humility; meanwhile Loki lies, cheats, and manipulates his way to the top, and Asgard suffers for it.

   Arrogance driving a hero towards ruin hasn't been done very often in superhero movies (besides the Godawful Spider-Man 3) so Thor's hubris proves a welcome motif. Meanwhile talented Londoner Tom Hiddleston gives a good performance as the tormented and sly Loki, making it difficult to tell whether Loki is emoting or merely affecting.

    Although the special effects are dazzling, they didn't get in the way of the story, although sometimes they distracted me. One complaint I have is that Jane was as boring a romantic interest as you could find, which is the fault of the script, not Natalie Portman, who proved she could act her ass off in Black Swan. Otherwise, do I think you should see it? Yes I do.


  1. While the storyline was pretty predictable and Jane could've been used a bit better, I did very much love this film, and I fully agree that Joss is king! Have you checked out his work on The Avengers? If not, I sincerely recommend it.

    Terrific review, very well written

  2. I enjoyed this movie very much as well, but then I didn't have too high expectations either. It helped that Branagh, Sir Anthony, and Portman were attached to the project. And at least one real Norse actor, Stellan. But Hiddleston was riveting to watch. I would like to see him in other movies.

  3. Part of what I wanted from the film was a guy in armor with a giant hammer smacking frost giants in the face...and so I got that. It was a good time at the theaters, and that's all I asked for. Good review Sarah.

  4. A second viewing definitely highlighted the weaknesses in this movie (one-dimensional Jane, shallow/forced romance) but I still loved it. Thor could have looked ridiculous but Chris Hemsworth's balance of arrogance and humor made it work.

    Anthony Hopkins and Loki were fantastic too; the slapstick on earth was great but I wanted more of the well-played Odin family drama!

  5. I was not sure about this film either, but after watching The Avengers, I found Thor to be my favorite part besides Iron Man. So I watched the movie and really liked it and Chris Hemsworth for eye candy didn't hurt either. ;)

  6. I really like this one, even more than Avengers. It has everything - great protagonist, funny moments, nice chemistry between the leads, great effects and Idris Elba :)The romance between Jane and Thor is one of my favorite in comic book adaptations.

  7. I have been quite negative about a host of superhero films released in the last few years but I really enjoyed the humour in Thor. That certainly helped it stand out from the crowd.


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