As you’ve probably noticed there were quite a few of us here at TMP that managed to catch the first big comic book movie of the Summer; Thor. Since my fellow writer Matthew has already done an excellent job of breaking down the film in his review, I’ve decided instead to share 3 parts of the film I loved, and 3 parts of the film I hated.
As you read this I feel it’s important to keep in mind that Thor is not a movie I was looking forward to. I’m not a big fan of his comics and didn’t really follow every bit of news that came out for this movie. In fact, of all the Summer movies, this was the one I knew least about (in terms of story), so many things were in fact a surprise for me.
Things I Loved:
The Balance Between Real and Fantasy
This is something that many comic book movies struggle with, and it was a far bigger problem back in the day when these types of films were still something of a joke. The major fans of these comics always want the movies to stay as close to the source as possible. It’s understandable, since the source material is what they fell in love with.
Problem is there are many aspects of the comic book world that doesn’t translate well into the film world. Often times the costumes and antics come off as cartoonish and goofy, so the filmmakers struggle to keep a decent balance in the movie. You need the realism to draw in the ‘everyday’ audience and keep them in their seats, but you also need the fantastical elements in order to stay true to the comics.
Thor handles this balance perfectly. And given that we’re essentially dealing with a ‘god’ character the filmmakers had an uphill battle. By constantly switching between Asgard and Earth (something I wasn’t really expecting) they kept a literal balance in the film, but it was in the way they explained everything in real world terms that helped keep the fantastical from taking over too much.
I love serious films as much as the next guy, but a big reason I go to the movie theater is to be entertained. So it’s always nice to see a movie that doesn’t try to take itself too seriously, and inject some genuine humor in it.
This is great for Thor because with all of the fantasy elements in this film, going too serious would have been a big mistake and would have broken that finely tuned balance I just mentioned. The humor was also the most surprising aspect of the movie, as I didn’t expect to be laughing quite as much as I did. Hell even now, I can say that one of my favorite/most memorable parts of the film, is when Jane Foster hits Thor with her car for the second time.
Tom Hiddleston’s Loki
Without a doubt, I can say that the absolute best part about Thor (for me anyway) is the character Loki. Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of the trickster god is amazing and was incredibly memorable. I truly empathized with him and understood the journey he was taking. He never felt over the top (which would have been easy to do) with the character and every time he was on the screen, I was riveted.
Most impressive to me though, was how the story and filmmakers handled Loki. In both the comics and even the Norse mythology Loki is a mischievious being who has plans within plans within plans. I mean, he’s a guy who makes Captain Jack Sparrow’s schemes look simple-minded and elementary. You’re never sure exactly what he’s up to, and just when you think you’ve figured out his grand plan...it changes. He does something totally out of left field and you find yourself two-steps behind him.
That is exactly the aspect the filmmakers captured for his character. I really never knew what Loki was up to next. I thought I knew his ultimate plan/goal, but then something would change. It was a wonderful feeling to not know what he was up to until the very end. It was great for the story, and perfect for his character.
Things I Hated:
Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster
This one actually pains me to say, but it’s true. I love Natalie Portman and think she’s an amazing actress. She does a fantastic job with whatever role she has...that’s even true in this movie. The problem is, she was way under utilized. I mean this in both the character’s role in the film and the use of Portman’s talent.
Jane Foster in this film, mostly serves as a way for Thor to learn his humility. So for the most part of this movie, Foster’s character acts like a giggling, tongue-tied, school girl any time she’s in his presence. I expected her to be a far stronger character than that. She’s supposed to be this brilliant astrophysicist and able to tame the heart of a ‘god’, but that’s not how she comes off as.
That’s why it breaks my heart that Natalie Portman played this role. Jane Foster (as she’s portrayed in this film) could really have been played by anyone. The role wasn’t that deep, and didn’t require any big talent to pull off. Any actress can play giggly and tongue-tied. In this way Portman seemed very under used. She has the ability to play a far stronger character, so it sucked that she didn’t.
This kind of ties in with what I was saying about Jane Foster. Just about all of the side-characters in this film felt pretty useless. Unless it was Thor or Loki, no one felt like they were explored or used to their full potential. Stellan Skarsgard did a great job, but his role was fairly marginal. Honestly if he hadn’t been in the film, I couldn’t really say it would have been noticiable or different. Sadly that’s the case for many of the characters (Darcy, Frigga, and to some extent even Heimdall).
While it was cool to see all of these people populating this world, I can’t say that it helped the film in any way. In fact, a big part of me wondered how much better the film could have been, if they’d taken out the superfluous characters (even the Warriors 3 didn’t do much of anything, but find him and then disappear), and used that screen time to focus on other aspects.
The biggest example of this really is Hawkeye. So many people were excited to see this cameo, but in the end his role was utterly pointless. As far as the story goes, you could have put Goon #2 with a gun in the same scene and it wouldn’t have been any different. It’s cool to see him, but meaningless characters only bring a movie down in my opinion.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not talking about how they ended the film (though I thought it was a little too quick), I’m talking about the fact that it ended at all. I was having so much fun with this movie, and then all of a sudden it’s over.
Overall the pacing with the film was pretty good, but it seemed like the end just came out of no where. I felt like there were still story details that needed to be wrapped up. That’s partly a problem of making a film and knowing that it’ll be a lead in into yet another movie, and unfortunately that’s how all these Marvel movies seem to be going.
In the end, I will say that Thor completely surprised me. It was easily my least looked forward to comic book movie this year, but I’m very glad to have seen it. Marvel has done some great things with this movie and they’ve really figured out what works. Now they need to take out what doesn’t so it’s not a continual problem with every Marvel movie.