Review: Thor

As a fan of Spider-Man, Daredevil and the X-Men, I always felt Thor was a bit out of place in the Marvel universe. But when it comes to movies, every story has space for its own telling, and so it is with the god of thunder.

The great thing about Thor is that it doesn’t feel like a comic book movie. It’s clear that the writers decided to avoid a lot of the typical superhero pitfalls and focus on the wealth of material available to craft an excellent story.

The appropriate tie-ins are there. S.H.I.E.L.D. shows up as featured at the end of Iron Man 2. The groundwork for the Avengers movie is prepared. But Thor is really two different genres sandwiched together to make something interesting.

Thor is part fish-out-of-water flick and part opera. If it had a smarter script and a 150 min runtime, it could have been the kind of movie worth seeing again and again. As it is, there’s simply too much to do and too little time to do it in.

Before I get into spoilers and specifics, I’ll say Thor is good enough to remind us that there’s been a lot of crap in theaters lately. But not good enough to leave you wanting more.

SPOILERS

A lot of time in the beginning is spent setting up Thor’s fall from Asgard. I liked the approach to Thor’s story. A typical comic book movie would give us the origin with the first hour or so devoted to our hero gaining his powers and inadvertently a nemesis as well. Thankfully, Thor isn’t a typical hero. And his story is a lot older than comic books.

The first act gives us Thor in full-on battle mode facing off against frost giants and mythical beasts with all kinds of explosions and powers shaking the heavens. It seems nothing can stop Thor, and he has no match. He does, however, have quite the ego. Rather than deal with evil villains or monsters, Thor’s biggest enemy is himself.

In order to take him down a peg, Thor’s father Odin exiles Thor to earth and strips him off his power until he learns his lesson. Odin then falls into his Odinsleep, and Thor’s jealous brother Loki seizes the opportunity to become king.

That brings us into the fish-out-of-water segment of the story. This is where the most potential is squandered. There are a few interesting moments. For example, Thor decides he likes coffee and shatters the mug while yelling for more. Good. Good. Nice touch. He also has the uncanny ability to get hit by whatever vehicle Natalie Portman is driving.

But this is where the movie gets a bit muddy. Thor has a few heart-to-heart talks, a monster shows up, and suddenly he’s worthy of being Thor again? This section of story is just too weak to support what follows. Thor needed to experience something new, real and life-changing. Granted, Natalie Portman’s hot. But a single night correcting her physics diary isn’t enough to whip the god of thunder into shape.

Maybe the writers, producers, directors, etc. didn’t think the audience would accept a lengthy character conversion. I know a lot of folks didn’t like Ang Lee’s character-heavy look into the life of the Hulk.

If the movie’s called Thor, perhaps you can only go so long without Thor doing, you know, Thor stuff. Still, similar movies like the second installments in the Superman and Spider-man franchises showed a hero can be stripped of power and rebuilt within a decent runtime.

The movie wrapped up well. I especially liked how Thor subdued Loki on the bridge.

Though I thought there were issues with the meat of the story, I liked the feel of it. The contrast of Asgard and earth worked well. I liked Loki as a villain because he didn’t feel like a villain. He was right about a good many things.

Despite its script problems, Thor is still entertaining. Unfortunately, the nature of the characters and setting leads to a little too much exposition which leaves the meat of the story underdeveloped. It’s a 150-minute movie stuffed into a 114-minute package.

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