M’s Spot: Reviewing Thor The Movie

Summer is not even here yet and we already have Thor, our first major blockbuster release of the year. If you’re already a fan of the Thunder God, then I can tell you up front that this is as good as it is going to get. Just like the first Iron Man film, expect this inaugural Thor outing to come as an unexpected surprise.

Marvel Studios is making a concerted effort to give these films, at least, the appearance of a cohesive, shared universe. S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) is now appearing in each– if only to exchange some witty banter with a couple of characters. Also, a certain purple archer (and future Avenger) makes a cameo working for S.H.I.E.L.D., as he gets called into action against Thor.  Unfortunately, he is not given the chance to attack Thor with his weapon of choice.

From here on, I’ll do my best to keep the spoilers to a minimum.

To be sure, I am not the biggest Thor fan. I kind of feel my knowledge of the character is a bit selective, and most of it comes from Walter Simonson’s comic run and the short-lived Roger Landridge/Chris Samnee series Thor: The Mighty Avenger (which, if you want a good introduction to the character, I highly recommend picking up). The good news: If you have a passing knowledge of Thor– either gained vicariously though other comics in the Marvel Universe or from the Norse mythology that surrounds the character– this movie conveys this information in a sensical manner.

Given Director Kenneth Branagh’s background in classical dramas, it is easy to see that he is attempting to make the story of Asgard equal to that of a grand Shakespeare Play or a compelling Greek Tragedy. He does a good job of having the film mesh with the previous Iron Man movies and, to a certain extent, the Hulk reboot. More good news: Even if Branagh had not incorporated these through elements, I don’t think their absence would have affected the overall quality– or my enjoyment– of this film.

For big budget, effects-driven film like this one– Thor is a good start to the season. The first five minutes of the movie is pure exposition by Odin (Anthony Hopkins)– describing the Nine Realms, the Frost Giants (which are rather creepy, especially the Frost Giant King Laufey) and the weapon that was taken from them. This exposition takes the form of a story told to a young Thor and Loki.

Fast forward to the present, where get the backstory to Thor’s hammer Mjolnir and the explanation of the Bifrost– which isn’t so much a rainbow as a wormhole with pretty lights. Mind you, they have to cross a rainbow bridge to get to the Bifrost, but I kind of wanted to see them riding on one for my amusement. It is also very interesting to see the atmospheric changes between the realms. Asgard is more serious and regal. Jotunheim, of course, is covered in snow an ice. Also, New Mexico serves as curiously wondrous place to banish Thor. In context to the earlier fantastic story locales, the Western scenery is extremely desolate and weirdly upbeat.

Outside of the initial explanations, Odin’s character is also used to progress the plot. I’d like to think Odin exiled Thor to Earth in order to humble him and have him learn that being a warrior isn’t– on its’ own– enough to become a good king. But I am afraid that most people will see this act simply as Asgard’s supreme ruler being dick– which is unfortunate. I think Odin is truly just a father attempting to teach his son a lesson in the importance of peace– rather than something petty like, “I am your king, you disobeyed my orders and now you must be punished for it.” Maybe it’s me but if Odin was really trying to punish Thor, I don’t think he would have sent him to Earth with his hammer.

That’s it for my describing the story. I don’t want to give too much away for those who haven’t seen it and plan on doing so. I’ll just stick with the characters from here on out… And a few odds an ends.

Chris Hemsworth not only looks the part but plays the title role very well. At the beginning, his Thor is perfectly cocky and bull-headed.

His being sent to Earth is a “fish out of water” tale that is fun to watch without being completely ridiculous or over the top. I will admit that when The Warriors Three and Sif arrive on Earth, they do look kind of silly– especially due to their costumes and how well Loki (Tom Hiddleston) managed to blend in before. Regarding actress Jaimie Alexander (who played Sif): If Ryan Reynolds can play both Green Lantern and Deadpool… Hell, if Ray Stevenson can play the Punisher and Volstagg– than I see no reason why Jaimie Alexander can’t play Sif and Wonder Woman. This movie makes a good case for this casting, especially now that the Wonder Woman TV pilot is dead in the water.

Some of you might think Natalie Portman could fill the boots worn by a particular Amazon Princess. Based on this performance, I sincerely hope not. Maybe based her work in Your Highness, but I still doubt it. Portman plays Jane Foster in Thor– a character from the very first Thunder God comics that was a nurse employed by Dr. Donald Blake. Since Blake is NOT in this movie (he does get a shout out though), it seems strange from a comic continuity point of view that they would even bother to use the name or the character– especially since the creators have updated Foster’s profession to astrophysicist. (It also seemed to me like Jane fell for Thor way too easily, but that’s a minor gripe.)

Finally, we have Loki. Watching his plan come together– then unravel– gave the film one of the Shakespearean qualities Branagh was shooting for. He is evil.

As for the odds an ends, Stan Lee and J. Michael Straczynski play Earthlings. Aforementioned Thor writer/artist Walter Simonson also gets in on the action portraying an Asgardian. These are fun little “easter eggs” for comic book fans.

Seeing Thor in 3D really underscores the fact that the film was converted to the “third dimension” in post-production. The 3D credits are glaring (and the only shots worth watching with glasses on)– as they were obviously the only parts of the movie originated in the format. Transition shots are also a bit disorienting. (I confess to not being a big fan of 3D.) The final POST CREDITS reveal (a staple of all Marvel movies now) was very interesting and should factor in as a major set piece in the upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger film– as well as the Avengers movie.

After the last frame flickered, I felt– for me– this movie was just all right. I don’t see any reason why this film had to come before the upcoming Avengers movie– except to introduce Thor.

And by the way Marvel Studios has been teasing and hyping that team movie, the Joss Whedon directed vehicle better be a major win. Either that, or we are headed toward a spectacular failure and a lesson why Superhero Team movies should never be attempted. I certainly hope it is the former– for the sake of superhero movies in general. Another fantastically big blockbuster (after the enormous success of the last Nolan Batman film) could only (hopefully) help our hobby.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

As always, I look forward to the comments of the IMJ Nation!

MSpot can be found on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/TheMSpot
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27 Responses to M’s Spot: Reviewing Thor The Movie

  1. jorge burgos says:

    It’s interesting he only wears the helmet once, the movie I liked it, dam roger ebert really was harsh on it, I’m glad you were kind to it

    • TheMSpot says:

      I think in the context of the movie the helmet was only used for ceremonial purposes. I’m sure they tried filming with it on but it was probably to much of a distraction or it kept falling off or something to that effect.

  2. ed2962 says:

    Cool review, M Spot! I’m still on the fence about going to see this movie but all the good word of mouth has got me curious.
    I also like what you said about Wonder Woman. Maybe the success of this film will convince Warner Bros that a superhero fantasy film can work and that not everything has to be “realistic”. Hopefully they’ll restart Joss Wendon’s movie project.

    • TheMSpot says:

      They managed to streamline Thor’s origin really well, and when you see it work for a character with as screwed up back story as Thor’s I can’t see why it couldn’t work with Wonder Woman.

  3. MicahSkin says:

    I MISSED JMS AND WALT?! Lord, now I have to go see it again…

    • TheMSpot says:

      I’ll make it easier for you JMS was the first guy to try an pull the hammer from the crater, and Walt was in the banquet sense at the end, it’s brief. Also, Walt’s wife was in the sense but her back is turned. It’s funny he tweeted a picture of the two of them in Asgardian costumes and everyone like those are great cosplay outfits. No one thought he was making a cameo in the Thor movie.

  4. generaldark says:

    nice fair review!

  5. Allfather76 says:

    Thanks for the review M Spot! I also have not read many Thor books – the only ones I have read is from the Simonson run (all from original single issues – I need to get the trades) and I have always enjoyed them. Can anybody recommend maybe 3 decent Thor trades I could check out BESIDES any of the Simonson ones since I have read most of them?

    I haven’t seen the movie yet but it sounds good enough to enjoy – just depends if I can get to the theater or just wait for the DVD.

    Thanks again M Spot!

    • TheMSpot says:

      Another good Thor book would be Thor: The Mighty Avenger, and if you want to get a sense of what you in for in the Thor movie JMS’s run on Thor is great. Something I didn’t know till after the movie was JMS got a story credit more than likely because of that run on Thor. Hope that helps, and thanks.

      • Allfather76 says:

        Thanks M Spot – that does help. I did forget that I did read the first JMS trade and I did like it. I’ll be looking to check out the others he did plus Thor: The Mighty Avenger.

  6. tomstewdevine says:

    Good review Mspot, I also enjoyed the movie.

    • TheMSpot says:

      I think what gets me is how easy Marvel Studios is making this look, but I am concerned about how Captain America will turn out.

    • tomstewdevine says:

      I guess I see that you said it was alright, but I think the tone of your review is positive. And I agree Cap has a lot to prove.

      • TheMSpot says:

        But I didn’t hate it either. :) There really wasn’t much to rip apart for me. I’ll give it to them it’s well made. Ranking it against the other Marvel films its somewhere between Iron Man 1 and 2 in my opinion.

  7. Sai011 says:

    Good review! For me I pretty much dislike most comicbook movies because they can never stay true to the comic or the get some actor that doesnt fit the character. I saw thor and fast five in the sameday and I like fast five better. Thor for me is the better of the 4 (Thor, Captian, x-men, green lantern) comicbook movies coming out this year.

  8. TheMSpot says:

    Also, I think Kat Dennings stole it away from Natalie Portman.

  9. philbyday says:

    Cool review, M!
    2 me the plusses were the fx/cinematography, the frost giants, & most notably Hiddleston’s Loki.

    The minuses were the excessive fan service moments w/more attention being paid 2 having comic fan’s going oooo & ahhh over who’d they see next as opposed 2 fleshing out the main characters & telling a more coherent and complete tale.
    Of course, that’s just me :-)

  10. Comics_Addict says:

    I am surprised you enjoyed it as you did Jose. I too watch it in 3D and it only confirm me that this feature doesn’t enhance the movie experience at all (considering I am beyond the age of 5…) I didn’t like the movie at all, the acting was great especially from Thor,Odin & Loki but I found it distracting how nicely( without a obvious catharsis) where the main character changes I felt like I was only supposed to see he learns to care because the plot needed it. I guess I am still looking for that next Iron Man film from Marvel and the last movies that they have released just don’t cut it. They release movie after movie with they’re properties for the sake of them not because they necessarily have a good story to accompany them. Feel like Iron Man 1 excellent story was just a fluke. Just my opinion of course.

  11. Rob-ot says:

    Really good review M! Very thorough and well thought out.
    I think I already mentioned this, but I was very surprised at how much i actually enjoyed this film. I only went to see it because I had a couple hours to kill before meeting some friends for drinks. But found myself getting swept up in the story and the characters pretty quickly. Thankfully, I had enough sense to opt for the 2D screening ;)
    I am not much of a Thor fan either, in fact the only Thor comic I have ever really enjoyed was “Thor: The Mighty Avenger”. Which has been getting an appropriate amount of love around here lately :) So, it was great that this film was able to pull me in to that world and keep my interest.

  12. WithoutFear86 says:

    I agree with Jamie Alexander playing Wonder Woman. As for the movie, I enjoyed but felt that the Earth scenes were very rushed. Jane Porter’s character somewhat erked me in the sense that her relationship with Thor didn’t seem very natural. Why wasn’t Thor in love with Sif?

  13. kurumais says:

    does anyone think this movie desrved its pg 13 rating? i cant figure out what was so 13 about this flick

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