I often say that a film - usually a blockbuster film - is “exactly what you think it’s going to be,” or “good for what it is.” And let’s be honest, those are just polite euphemisms for what those films really are, which is throwaway popcorn garbage. And Thor, the latest addition to what will eventually lead to every fanboy’s wetdream à la The Avengers, is a perfect case in point.
Well, for the most part. Fair is fair so let’s be fair.
Thor is directed by Kenneth Branagh, a real pro best know directorially for his adaptations of Henry V and Hamlet (his Frankenstein with De Niro was pretty badass, too). Branagh has said in interviews that he’s been a longtime fan of Thor, the comic, and jumped at the chance to helm Thor, the flick. Fair enough.
I mention this because Thor, at least in its Earth-set scenes, makes every effort to be humorous, which Branagh never has a problem accomplishing, given his often-dense source material. Sometimes the Thor gimmicks work (mostly from the mouth of the great Clark Gregg, reprising his S.H.I.E.L.D. commander role from the Iron Man films) and other times the humor falls flat.
Now, what else can I positively say without stretching? Aussie Chris Hemsworth appears to be having a blast as Thor, which is fun for the audience. But the rest of the cast, including talents such as Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins, are all phoning their roles in.
And that’s a problem, because for a movie that relies so heavily on its uniquely incomprehensible vernacular, acting kind of, you know, matters.
If you’re unfamiliar with the comics, as I am, Thor is set in two worlds. On his home planet (or “realm,” as he calls it) Thor is a mighty warrior and soon-to-be king. But after getting greedy with bloodlust, his angry poppa (Hopkins) banishes Thor to Earth, stripping him of his powers. On Earth, Thor runs into a few scientists (Portman and Skarsgård) who are studying electromagnetic something or others, and explains to them how he desperately needs to get back home. You see, Thor’s younger brother is being all sneaky and trying to gain the throne and… oh, seriously, who gives a shit?
In short, Thor does well when it’s on Earth, but its home realm scenes (which occupy nearly half the film) are so stale and boring, I wondered to myself if a person can actually become dumber from watching a movie.
Thor is the latest lead-in to Joss Whedon’s The Avengers due exactly a year from now. Given the cast, which so far includes Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), I’m actually excited to see it. But am I the only one who wants to skip the Thor and Captain America foreplay and just jump right into the main showdown? D