Sunday, May 22, 2011


Thor is an enjoyable, decently-constructed film that plays out for as much drama as action, a rare breed these days. Kenneth Branagh's influence on the work seems to give it a grand, Shakespearean feel, but that's not to say it's without moments that deserve closer scrutiny.

Structurally, there are some very good things to say about Thor. The cut from the opening scene to the world of the Asgardians is very good and feels right--how else are we to care about this Thor and understand why he's on Earth? Overall, the movie maintains a good pace forward throughout, cutting between Earth and Asgard appropriately.

On the character side of things, Natalie Portman is strong and capable as Jane Foster. Anthony Hopkins has great presence as Odin, and Tom Hiddleston plays Loki so that you know he's treacherous, but even then his true motives and goals are unclear. Chris Hemsworth is jovial and commanding as Thor, and his portrayal of Thor's humbling when the God of Thunder can no longer life Mjolnir is moving to be sure.

All that said, there are nagging issues I find in the work. How Loki brought the Frost Giants into Asgard is an unanswered question and seems like a way to get around the loss of the Birfrost. Thor's character arc on Earth seems somewhat lacking; we don't get to see him suffer as a direct result of his pride and hubris. He merely goes through an intensely humbling experience of being powerless. Whether he's actually learned to be a better person (when, honestly, once he's on Earth he doesn't seem that bad) seems questionable to me. No one thought he wasn't courageous. It seems like his redemption doesn't really probe at the point of his exile at all.

As is typical in films like these, some of the finer points go underdeveloped. The explanation for Odin's need to rest is hardly given at all, and if it were meant to last as short as a day or a few days, it would seem like proclaiming Loki king is a much too permanent move. Granted, ostensibly it wasn't known how long Odin would stay in his sleep, but the point still stands. Nor were Thor's companions well-developed, as they all seem like stock characters.

All that said, the humor in this film is very well-timed, with Thor getting hit by a car multiple times a particularly good gag. And the overall driving point of conflict--one between brothers under their father, the king, is indeed very much like Shakespeare and a marked improvement from the usual hero-vs.-villain fare. Overall, a respectable film.

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