I admit that, until I saw the trailer, I didn't even know Thor was a superhero character. Thus as I walked into the screening next to a man carrying a homemade Thor hammer, I felt at a slight disadvantage. All the inside jokes, the shoutouts to aficionados of the Marvel universe, went completely over my head. With no expectations, I sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the show.
Thor, the powerful son of Odin, is about to be crowned as the new king of Asgard. But as Odin starts to utter the words of coronation, the ceremony is interrupted by the invasion of the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, enemies from a distant planet. Though the invasion is quelled without losses, Thor impulsively decides to initiate war with the giants. He travels to their planet, stirring up trouble and eliminating any hope for peace between the worlds. His actions were in direct violation of Odin’s orders and, for his brashness and immaturity, Thor has his power stripped away and is banished to a foreign realm—Earth. The story then splits. Half takes place with Thor on earth as he attempts to reclaim his power, helped by three astrophysicists and hindered by mysterious government agents. The other half takes place in space where Odin’s kingdom is threatened by frozen enemies and traitors within its ranks. Thor must battle aliens, secret agents, and the hazards of true love as he slowly regains the power to save both worlds from complete annihilation.
The first act explodes with thunderous intensity. The fight scenes are incredible, the visuals dazzling and the plot captivating. However, when Thor loses his power, so does the film. The second act drags and the third fails to rebuild any of the original suspense. The once-interesting plot disintegrates into an hour-long commercial for the upcoming Avengers movie (the film uniting all Marvel characters). Plot twists late in the film pointlessly complicated the narrative and failed to generate excitement.
The acting is generally good, most notably Anthony Hopkins’ as Odin. However, with the exception of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the characters lacked depth. Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgard are one-dimensional in stereotypical roles of love interest, comic relief and random scientist.
Despite the narrative and character flaws, there is much here to enjoy—breathtaking visuals, incredible cinematography, sweeping landscapes of other-worldly vistas. The special effects are top-notch, most notably in the early battle scene on Jotunheim’s ice planet. The fight scenes invoked cheers and applause from the audience on several occasions. The score is sweepingly epic and a perfect match for the action on screen. The film also never takes itself too seriously, injecting genuinely comedic moments throughout. Holding his coffee cup in the air, Thor proclaims, “This drink...I like it! More!” He then smashes the mug to the floor in barbaric Viking fashion. Hilarious interactions and one-liners make the dialogue shine. The film also lauds important traits of honor, duty, and self-sacrifice.
It’s good, clean, mindless entertainment. Nothing more, nothing less—ultimately forgettable but still fun to watch. Its flaws are mostly overcome by its entertainment value and the movie is a solid choice for an afternoon time-waster. Just don’t expect this film to be, like its hero, a cinematic god.