By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Charles Taylor
By Melissa Anderson
By Inkoo Kang
By Amy Nicholson
By Sam Weisberg
After more than a decade of high-profile Hollywood reboots, the shelves at Marvel and DC are starting to look empty. First came the obvious candidates: comic book vigilantes like Batman and Daredevil transformed seamlessly into action/crime anti-heroes. Then came teen idol Spider-Man, social-pariah supergroup the X-Men, righteous rageaholic Hulk, and the warmongering peacemaker Iron Man, all fitting analogues for the American aughts. Now, however, we're on to characters adapted neither for topicality nor timelessness, but for the simple fact that they're next in line. An astonishingly awkward marriage of ancient Norse mythology and 21st-century nonsense, Thor, directed by Kenneth Branagh, works too hard at simply functioning to assert why it, or we, should bother.
A headstrong young prince known for smashing heads first and asking questions later, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is set to be anointed king of Asgarda fanciful, otherworldly realm populated by Scandinavians who talk like Englishmenby his revered father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins). But after his grand coronation is interrupted by an invasion of the dreaded Ice Giants, Thor defies Odin's pragmatism by fighting back (with four costumed compadres, as extraneous and flat as a Hanna-Barbera B-team) and disrupting an uneasy peace. As punishment, he's stripped of his powers, separated from his weather-taming hammer, and banished to the American desert. Soon thereafter, Odin falls into a coma, elevating scheming stepson Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to the throne and setting into motion rusty wheels of intrigue, betrayal and redemption. On Earth, Thor teams up with a trio of star-chasing scientists, including skeptic Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), dreamer Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and superfluous hipster Darcy (Kat Dennings, whose every line is a Facebook or iPod reference), who all gradually grasp the big bloke's true identity and stand aside as he battles intergalactic giants and judo-trained feds. Asgard seems realized from storyboards rejected as too tacky for even Star Wars 2.0 and Avatar, evoking instead the epic chintziness of Mike Hodges's Flash Gordonanother B-movie bomb helmed by a seriously slumming Brit. But what's surprising isn't that Branagh took on Thor; his once-promising career hasn't really re-railed since his Frankenstein monstrosity of 1994. It's that there's scant evidence that a classically trained dramatist had anything to do with what's on screen. The closest he comes to a visual signature is a sophomoric preference for slanted frames, forsaking actual shot-making for Schumacherian funhouse shenanigans. The CGI landscapes are monumentally lifeless, a verdict that unfortunately also applies to his un-doctored two-shots, bloodless faces fixed in IMAX 3D space.
From the cast, Branagh gets exactly what you'd expect: Hopkins shows up in a strapless eye patch like an even more wizened Rooster Cogburn, briefly aroused by his own loud-quiet-loud vocal modulation; Skarsgård always seems faintly embarrassed or soused, or both; Portman is stiffer than usual, delivering catchphrases on the downbeat like an early, phonetically dependent Schwarzenegger; and newcomer Hemsworth, a strapping Aussie with ocean-blue eyes, is a charmless hunk of meat. Which opens the door wide for Hiddleston to steal the movie, for whatever it's worth, as the dandy baddie. Unlike the muscled-out, metalhead, beach-blond (from head to candy-corn eyebrows) hero, Loki's like a walking Spandau Ballet music video, with a trim, bottle-black New Wave shimmer, pale, angular features, mirror-trained smoldering affect and custom -tailored, dance-ready formalwear. He's a fresh-faced villain, unflappable in antlered headgear and trapped in his more famous beefcake brother's yarn about responsible might, the regality of humility and the galaxy-saving love of Natalie Portman. I wouldn't expect a Loki spinoff anytime soontoo moody, too cosmo, too intellectually elitebut that may be just the problem. Marvel continues to polish off its mid-century hyper-masculine heroes when what we really need is a new mythology for this more ambiguous age.
Loki's character made no sense. I thought Thor was the bad guy. In the middle of the movie, it kind of seemed like they traded places. Bad writing!
"Marvel continues to polish off its mid-century hyper-masculine heroes when what we really need is a new mythology for this more ambiguous age."
You're obviously missing the whole point. The people who remember these charactors (and Batman, Superman, etc) remember the comics as a type of escapism. For a few cents (inflated currently, granted), you could imagine yourself in another era, place where "good triumphing over evil" actually exists. We live in ambiguity; do we really wanna pay 13.50 for it? Or do we wanna buy our popcorn and drink, sit our butts in the seat ..and escape a few minutes? I listen to all the negative reviews and I see a common problem; do they REALIZE they are reviewing a COMIC BOOK MOVIE??? This ain't War and Peace; this is a caped guy with a winged helmet throwing a hammer!!
Methinks thou thinkest too much!
Well that was a lyrical review.:)
I'm not so impressed by anything that I've seen in the Thor trailers or in its description, I might check it out on netflix in a few months, but your article has entertained.
And for a damn reasonable price too.
You sir are a fool, your basically the only one of the opinion that Helmsworth was a charmless hunk of meat, he was full of it and did a fantastic job, and sir Anthony was wonderfully subdued compared to pretty much every film he has done since silence of the lambs.
little kenny branagh down on his luck----after making one of the worst FRANKENSTEIN movies ever, with bobby deniro as one of the worst frankenstein monsters ever.
Easy way to make a buck, though!
way back before STAR WARS this type of crappy movie wouldn't even get reviewed...!
once upon a time there were movies for adults that got reviewed, and then there were the trashy movies for kids that nobody bothered reviewing.
just like befoer STAR WARS nobody gave a shit about all the marvel comic book saturday morning cartoon shows.
me thinks you stink
only a fool would call himself viking pig fucker----or whatever it is that you call yourself in private, you little nerdy fanboy.
josh, you are just a nerdy little teenage pizza face who should go out and get laid instead of reading thor comic books.
me thinks your not well versed in the realm of movies. What would you call "Flash Gordon" and "Buck Rogers" from the 30's? Science Fiction and fantasy have existed from the earliest days of cinema.
For the Rooster Cogburn reference, why would one even go there? Odin has been depicted with an injured eye for centuries. If there's anything crappy, it's the review itself. See it again in 2D, as it was intended, and don't forget your happy pill's this time.
I'm 29 and have been with the same woman for six years. I will conceed I am a nerd but trying to argue with somone who thinks "Thorblowsme" is wit would waste everyone's time. Your insults are banal and break against the rocks of civility. Do everyone a favor and scurry off little troll.
flash gordon and buck rogers were serials----nobody reviewed serials. kids went to see serials.
and sci-fi was looked down upon too, as junk for kids---bug eyed monster sci fi movies that usually BOMBED at the box office.
me thinks you don't know anything of past movie goers.
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