THOR. SON OF ODIN! GOD OF THUNDER!
Is he cooler than The Hulk? (Fucking stupid question, of course he is)
Is Chris Hemsworth really that attractive? (another stupid question, of course he is)
Is this movie any good?
Well…let’s get into it.
From the first scene which started in the desert with Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings and Natalie Portman, until the final scene with Chris Hemsworth and Idris Elba looking out across the galaxy at the edge of the destroyed bifrost; there were very few moments in this movie that felt like a drag.
It did resort to a lot a movie tropes, which I’m not going to hold against it too much. Mainly because there’s a lot of story to get through in this movie. A hell of a lot. The fact that this will be the first of 3 movies means it has time to improve on this. I really hope it does.
Similar enough to the points I’ve made about every movie prior to this, there’s a disappointment in how the excellent cast are used.
The fact that Natalie Portman is mainly there to look pretty and drive Thor around was quite disappointing. She’s supposed to be an astrophysicist, but I just didn’t buy it. There was nothing which made me believe her. I guess the point of this movie isn’t her research, but it could have been made more believable. I do want to point out that this is the fault of the script, not the acting. It will be interesting to see if Jane is going to be a recurring character or will she show up in the next one just to die and that will be Thor’s motivation for the movie. Here’s hoping they keep her around and write her character better.
OH….she also does a great job of telling the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that she has all her research written in her notebook. “…and everything I know about this phenomenon, is either in this lab, or in this book, and you can’t just take this…” YOINK! They did take it Jane. They did.
I also don’t want to go too much into the dynamic between Jane (Portman), Erik (Skarsgard) and Darcy (Dennings), but the reason I bring this up is that the pretty one/wise one/quirky one dynamic they act out is a bit tired, but they did a good job of it. I’m not sure if any of these characters will be in the sequel, if they are; I hope they’ll give them a bit more development. Darcy in particular was pretty underwhelming as a character. The flippant comments didn’t work, mainly because they were just too predictable. This is a damn shame, because that’s what Kat Dennings is great at; quick and sharp delivery. It’s a shame that the dialogue she had here was a bit blunt.
Let’s jump into the story. We learn at the very beginning of the movie that Asgard has been as war with the Frost Giants of Jotunheim for years, and there’s a very tender peace in place at the moment. Mainly due to the fact that the Asgardians have control of the Casket of Ancient Winters. Catchy name. Without this the Frost Giants and their leader Laufey(Colm Feore), unwillingly, accept peace as they know there is no hope of winning a war with Asgard.
We are then introduced to the three human characters in this film; Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Erik Selvig (Stellen Skarsgard) and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), who are in the desert of New Mexico with all their scientific equipment looking for some sort of anomaly. We’ll learn what it is later. A storm starts brewing and some sort of energy tube reaches down to the ground from the sky. They drive towards it and hit something. That something turns out to be a very hunky someone. The man himself, Thor (Chris* Hemsworth).
After the initial scene where we see Thor crashing to earth like a rocket we’re thrown straight into the thick of all the action which led to this moment. It’s pretty intense going. This section of Thor, set entirely in Asgard and only about 45 minutes long, is easily the most impressive film-making I’ve seen so far in any of the Marvel movies. Long, depth-filled shots of the absolutely stunning world of Asgard. The sweeping landscape shots which look fantastic. Asgard is another world, so they tried to replicate that scale for these scenes…and they pulled it off. Fair play to them.
We’re introduced to everyone we need to know in this section; in particular Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston). We begin with Thor preparing to receive the throne from his father Odin. The ceremony is interrupted by the Frost Giants breaking into Asgard to take back the Casket. Sneaky boys! Thor is furious with this. He demands to seek revenge against the Frost Giants by going to Jotunheim and smashing some skulls. Odin refuses this; he doesn’t want to break the peace. Loki’s eyes light up…time for mischief. It takes a while for the actual relationship between the brothers, Thor and Loki, to get going but this is the moment when it does.
Loki manipulates an apoplectic Thor into travelling to Jotunheim along with Sif (Jaimie Alexander), Volstagg(Ray Stevenson), Fandral(Josh Dallas) and Hogun (Asano Tadanobu). Sif is one of Thor’s childhood friends. While Volstagg, Fandral and Hogun are members of the Warriors Three; Thor’s closest comrades.
We have a short scene where we get an idea of what kind of characters Thor and Loki are. Thor; a proud but reckless future king of Asgard, while Loki is manipulative with a silver tongue. He understands how to use the emotions of others for his own benefit. We hear talk of one of the most badass characters I’ve seen so far; Heimdall (Idris Elba), the gatekeeper of Asgard who can apparently “…see a single dew drop fall from a blade of grass a thousand words away..” and ”…hear a cricket passing gas in Niffelheim.”
As they get to the bifrost gate Heimdall states that they aren’t “…dressed warmly enough” for a trip to Jotunheim. Much to the shock of the group; he’s heard every word. Jesus…just imagine all the people he hears wanking. It must be horrendous.
Elba is excellent as Heimdall. The script itself describes the character as ‘otherworldly’. It’s a stoic, withdrawn role; he’s mostly there to look imposing, but he delivers the lines with such authority and superiority that he clearly understands that his character sees and hears all. It’s a powerful, if reserved, performance.
They go to Jotunheim to fuck shit up, and my lord they certainly do that. Just before they get overrun, Odin shows up to save the day…and he is not a happy-chappy. The fragile peace between the two worlds is broken. Oopsies.
There’s a phenomenal scene once Odin pulls them back to the bifrost bridge which really emphasises the type of dialogue they’re going for in these Asgard scenes. This movie is Marvel in scale, but Shakespearian in character interactions. Hemsworth, Hiddleston and Hopkins adding an air of god-like delivery to every line during any scene they’re involved in.
Odin strips Thor of his power and banishes him from Asgard. Thor is thrown through the bifrost portal and Odin is now in possession of Mjolnir (played by a hammer). Odin removes the power from Mjolnir; unless the holder be worthy to possess it. He then chucks the hammer into the portal too, like a used teabag into a bin.
There was a lot of history to get through, and I can only imagine how awful a job this must have been for the editors. I would think there were mountains of film on the cutting room floor. Even so; considering all of the above, they did a great job of it. Pretty much all I’ve written above was from memory. So they flow of all they did worked extremely well.
Once we understand why Thor is on earth, we’re back to the modern day ‘real’ world and the movie makes a complete tonal shift. It goes from an otherworldly Shakespearian drama; to a fish-out-of-water action-comedy.
Oh dear, says you. That sounds shite, I hear you say. Well; you couldn’t be more wrong.
All the entertainment comes from Thor trying to grapple with the fact that his near-omnipotence, power, strength and hammer; are gone. He is now on a world he does not understand; alone. All the while not quite understanding the fact that he is no longer who he was. This leads to amazing line deliveries such as when he is in hospital and screams “You dare attack the son of Odin?” at the nurses and doctors.
The arrogance of Thor, who clearly refuses to recognise that he is no longer superhuman, is played perfectly by Hemsworth. The delivery of lines with a faux-confidence is hilarious. I say faux-confidence beause while he may no longer have his powers, he’ll be damned if he wants anyone to know that. I’m also now incapable of asking for more of anything without thinking: “Another!”
His comic delivery is fantastic, made all the better by the fact that he is still delivering his lines as though he is in a Shakespearian drama. Tremendous stuff.
The rest of the movie goes as you would expect (although there are two outstanding scenes which I’ll mention in a moment). A romance blossoms between Thor and Jane. At this point we cut back to Asgard, where Loki is standing in front of the Casket in the catacombs of the city. He seems oddly drawn to it.
Odin approaches him and one of the most fantastically acted scenes I’ve ever come across follows. Loki is not the child of Odin; he is adopted. He is the son of Laufey, saved from the battle many years ago by Odin. This scene is intense, intimate and heart-breaking; but each line is delivered with the fury and thunder you would expect from a discussion between two all-powerful beings. It also seems as though it is, going to be the tipping point for Loki. He is no longer just a tricky self-centred arsehole who uses his powers for his own gain. He is now a vengeful, anger-filled character with feelings of abandonment and disconnected from everything which may have previously stopped him from trying to destroy all that is dear to him. He is not who he thought he was. He sees himself as a monster. He is the child of the enemy so, as far as he’s concerned, he is the enemy.
The emotional drain of this heated discussion makes Odin collapse. The scene ends with Loki holding Odin in his arms, screaming for the guard to help. We will learn later that the Odin has actually fallen into a coma of sorts; Odinsleep. Which from what I can gather is him just charging his batteries. He’s low on energy. We only got an hour or so out of him. Thank god he doesn’t have a Samsung battery in him; he would have exploded.
Back on Earth; Thor’s hammer is now enclosed in a makeshift S.H.I.E.L.D. facility.** He goes to get it back to find that he cannot lift it, and is captured. A realisation comes over him that the punishment inflicted on him by his father is very much real. Which brings us on to the scene between Thor and Loki in the interrogation room, following Thor’s arrest.
This scene is another masterclass between two actors who understand their characters and are entirely invested in the role. Loki, knowing that Odin is in power saver mode, shows up to tell Thor that Odin has passed away. Thor, having realised just prior to this that he has been abandoned on earth, asks to return home. He is told that his mother Frigga(Rene Russo) will not allow it. He has been permanently exiled. He is broken, feeling abandoned and disconnected from everything which he had held dear to him. (Sound familiar?) He accepts this as the will of Asgard and they each deliver a heartfelt, and tear-filled, goodbye.
This scene is fantastic for two reasons. First; we see the genuine acting ability of Helmsworth and Hiddleston. Second; and more importantly, we see the major difference between the two characters. Thor; having gone through a far more severe emotional rollercoaster to Loki, does not allow it to consume him. There is no bitterness. There is no anger. There is only a reluctant acceptance and, perhaps, a despair when he realises that he has caused this. It is his doing. He is responsible for his actions. But he is willing to accept it, even if it means an eternity alone. It’s an awesome scene and I’d recommend the movie for this scene alone, to be honest!
Back to the story! Loki is in charge, the Warriors Three aren’t a fan. He’s gone a bit mental. Although his helmet/crown is cool as hell. They decide to go to earth to rescue Thor.
Loki catches on to this and sends the Destroyer after them. The Destroyer. The fucking Destroyer!
A giant, terrifying fire-shooting robot who either looks awesome…or looks like what would be made if the Michelin Man fucked a roll of tin-foil…and haven’t decided which yet. Thor offers himself to the Destroyer in order to save all others, and this sacrifice means his is now worthy of Mjolnir again. Hooray! It’s clobbering time…wait…is that right universe?
Thor defeats the Destroyer and tells Jane he’s just popping out to get some milk and smokes and he’ll be back in a few minutes (dad?). He’s just heading back to Asgard to defeat Loki.
A big old fight between Loki and Thor. It’s not that exciting, to be honest. In terms of battles in the Marvel movies so far, this one is near the bottom. It’s not the worst fight, it’s just worse than most.
To end the fight Thor destroys the bifrost, trapping him in Asgard (I’m sure that’s what happened to dad too). Loki is hanging off the edge of the, now destroyed, bifrost bridge. The abyss is the only thing beneath him. Loki does not get the approval he seeks from the now fully charged Odin who has shown up, and decides to commit suicide by falling into said abyss. He’s not actually dead. Of course he’s not. That’s not how movies work.
Thor says he’s not ready to be king and all is well in the world/s.
Post credits scene shows Erik Selvig being brought into a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility and shown a shiny cube. It apparently holds untold amounts of power. Then along comes Loki again. Told you he wasn’t dead.
You might notice that I didn’t go into any of the interactions between the ‘humans’ in the movie. That’s because they are, essentially, plot fillers. They could be anyone and it wouldn’t really make a jot of difference to the plot. As I said earlier, I do really hope that they expand on these people and make them actual characters in the sequel. Although, in this movie, it makes sense that they aren’t fully fleshed out. Thor and Loki are the stars of the show.
Overall; an absolutely excellent film. I’d watch this again and again. I genuinely fucking loved it.
I’d give it 8 Hulk-Smashes out of 10.
Actually; Hulk can go fuck himself.
I’ll give it 8 Mjolnirs out of 10.
*I just want to point out that I kept accidentally writing Christ Hemsworth…which is rather fitting for a man like this. Phew. Damn fine.
**Also; Jeremy Renner showed up here for no reason whatsoever.