I’ve waited a quarter of a century to see Thor on the big screen. The God of Thunder was my first favorite superhero. He is the character that got me into comics. His tale is the one that planted the seeds of interest for the myths and legends of Gods and Goddesses long gone within my mind and imagination. It’s been a long time coming for me to see him in all his live action glory.
Thor Movie Review
Before you ask, yes, I have a man crush on the character of Thor. While Superman was the epitome of what my father’s generation would have wanted to be as men, Thor was that to me. He is strong, brash, and bold. He’s fearless and a leader of men. I can point out specific moments in the comics I’ve read over the years that just thinking about them sends tingles down my spine because it meant Thor was going to do something so badass it had the power to make you faint in a total nerdgasm.
So, after twenty-five years of waiting for this moment, it has come… Thor has been turned into a movie star. I don’t think I could possibly have expected more, nor can I say I have a single disappointing thing to say about the movie. As I review this movie, I will be mindful of those who cannot see the movie yet and try to go light on spoilers. So, consider that your warning.
In the first few moments, after the opening credits, we learn of a great war that took place many centuries ago. The dread Frost Giants were hoping to unleash a terrible Winter on Midgard (Earth) that would have plunged the entire world into another Ice Age. Midgard would be protected by a warrior race of noble men – the Asgardians. Their king, Odin unleashed a fury on the Frost Giants that drove them all the way back to their realm. In their defeat, a truce was forged that kept the Frost Giants stuck in their realm without a casket containing their power. Meanwhile, the Asgardians would never again tread into their world or bother them again.
On a day that would have seen Thor be crowned as the ruler of Asgard, Frost Giants break into Odin’s trophy room. They nearly steal their power back but are met by the Destroyer who quickly puts an end to the shenanigans. Enraged that his day was ruined, Thor devises a plan to strike back at the Frost Giants. He’s accompanied by Sif, Loki, and the Warriors Three (Fendral, Hogun, and Volstagg). After showing off what exactly he and Mjolnir can do, Odin comes to collect his trespassing followers. Disappointed in what Thor has done to break the peace, Odin strips his firstborn son of his power and casts him out to Earth.
Most of my review will cover his time on Earth because that’s the real focal point of the entire story takes place, but let me just say Thor meets up with astro-physicist Jane Foster, her mentor, and a grad student who help him on his journey of self discovery. Meanwhile, in Asgard, Odin has fallen into the Odinsleep, leaving Loki as the interim ruler. Realizing much of what has happened has been the machinations of his step-brother, Thor eventually returns to Asgard to put an end to Loki’s tricks and schemes.
A lot of this movie revolves around the character of Thor. I mean, I guess you could say, “Well, duh… His name is the name of the whole movie!” However, this Thor is not a mature, tempered man. He’s kind of a brat and very cocksure. Chris Hemsworth (who most American audiences would recognize as Captain Kirk’s father in the opening scene of 2009′s Star Trek) turns in a really nice performance. First of all, you have to believe that he is a God. His physique and demeanor pulls that off pretty well. Next, you have to believe that he’s about as tough of a warrior as you’ll ever see. In several instances, you get that. Most importantly, though, you have to see him grow from where he began as an “action first” kind of man child, to a selfless and caring hero.
This is the type of characterization that you don’t often see in comic book movies. You get it in spades in the original media, but the average moviegoer doesn’t get that luxury of years and years of character building and study. Some could wonder exactly why Superman has to be a good man. He has all this power, and he can do so much, but his biological father told him he would be these people’s savior. He had a good, honest, and humble upbringing with the Kents, but it takes a man of unusual character to stick to his personal ethics and morals. It’s such an unusual character that it can’t really be explored in a couple hours. Why does Peter Parker have to give up his original motivations of using his power to gain riches as a celebrity? What was it about his Uncle Ben that made him the person he is? In any of his movies, is Batman really a “good” guy, or just someone who uses vigilante justice as a way to satisfy his need to dish out anger for what happened to him as a boy? Is Tony Stark more interested in being a true, honest-to-God hero or is a big part of his Iron Man persona used to make money and be in the papers? We could argue these points until the cows come home, but Thor takes the idea of what it means to be a hero with immense power, and a leader, to a whole different level.
Thor’s arrogance and temperament puts everything he should hold dear in question and danger. Everything he ever had and anyone he ever loved could fall victim to the consequences of his own actions and selfishness. Odin teaches him a lesson by stripping him of his power and forcing him to become worthy of it again. While banished and living among them as one of them, Thor can see what the strengths and frailties of humans are and what they are capable of as a race. It’s through his protection of them and sacrifice that grants him his rightful powers again. He’s forever changed because of these experiences and learns the lesson Odin needed him to understand. This is Hemsworth’s chance to really shine as an actor. He’s not exactly a selfish God who instantly turns into a selfless man. He grows into this and Hemsworth’s performance makes you believe this.
Next you have Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston. Here’s a guy who is completely new to American audiences and has a massive load to carry as the single most important villain in Thor’s history. Hiddleston plays Loki extremely well. He kinda looks like a weaselly guy and that’s exactly what Loki is. He’s one who can talk his way into and out of anything, but isn’t likely going to stand and fight when it’s most important, unless it’s for his own needs. What’s interesting about Loki is how low key the character is. All of his plans and machinations are never charted out for the audience. Knowing everything there is to know about the character, I knew I couldn’t trust anything that came rolling off the serpent’s tongue. However, I can say that the way Hiddleston delivers his lines and much of what he says can lead anyone to stop and think if he’s actually telling the truth. Of all the characters in this movie, I think Loki was by far and away the best written and it was truly delightful seeing his character play out as the main villain.
As far as the rest of the cast goes, they are serviceable to the movie. I think most of them could be interchanged with just about anyone to the exception of Anthony Hopkins as Odin. When he was cast way back when, I honestly had the same “Yup, that’s perfect…” thoughts run through my head as I did when Patrick Stewart took the Professor X role. I’m not sure anyone else could play that role or give it as much weight as Hopkins. The supporting cast, while interchangeable, was still very solid and fun to watch. I think of all the supporting cast, my favorite was Idris Elba as Heimdall. I don’t care who plays what role or what race the actors are compared to the race of the original character. If you can pull it off, I’m on your side. Idris Elba more than easily pulled off Heimdall. He acted and spoke how I expected that character to. Every single moment Heimdall was on screen, I was glued to him.
When it comes to the action of the movie, Thor is full of awesome moments. The very first time Thor uses Mjolnir in battle against the frost giants, I was able to check off everything I ever wanted to see the enchanted Uru hammer do. He threw it, and it came back to him. He pummeled Frost Giant heads with it. He spun it around and used that action in a number of ways I didn’t even expect. And, most importantly, he FLEW with it. Each of the action sequences were simply damn cool. Whether it was the hand to hand combat against S.H.I.E.L.D. agents guarding Mjolnir, the first battle with the Frost Giants, or the final showdown with Loki, there was a lot of epicness to it.
Now, if you’ve gotten this far, you may want to stop, now. I’ve got a list of five things to keep your eyes peeled for in the movie. A few of them are going to be slightly bigger spoilers, so here’s your last chance…
1. A sign for a vacation spot using the phrase “Journey Into Mystery…”
2. Odin’s enchantment on Mjolnir takes a specific three-point design that, very recently, adorns comics tying into Fear Itself
3. Just before the end of the credits look for a message awesomely similar to what you see at the end of James Bond movies
4. When Thor’s running wild through S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to get Mjolnir back, a certain archer is called in to take him down if necessary
5. STAY TO THE END OF THE CREDITS!!! The now traditional scene following the movie gives us a big hint as to what the Avengers will need to be assembled against… The only hint I can give is to say it is the, arguably, most powerful and dangerous item ever seen in the Marvel Universe
For some, Thor may disappoint those looking for a lot of fighting and action. For fans of the character, you’ll like the movie immensely. For people who just enjoy superhero movies, you’ll appreciate that the story takes a different angle and dives deeper into character development. Me? I couldn’t have been happier.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Hemsworth and Hiddleston own their roles in ways that drive the movie to new places for the genre. Fun action scenes. Mjolnir doing what we’ve always seen it do in comics and that is purely awesome.||Some may not endear themselves to the more character driven story. Some may even be let down by the trade off leading to less action sequences.|
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