Movie Review: Thor

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh
Written By: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne (screenplay); J Michael Straczynski, Mark Protosevich (story); Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby (comic book)
Paramount Pictures/Marvel Entertainment, 2011
PG-13; 115 minutes
2 stars (out of 5)


This is how I envision Thor having been written: J Michael Straczynski (creator of Babylon 5) sketched out the story on a napkin while spending a good deal of time at a bar, probably celebrating however much they paid him to do the job. All well and good until he set his drink on the napkin. Then some of what he wrote got a little blurry. And by the time Protosevich got hold of it, he could only read about half. He made some additional notes—that may or may not have had anything to do with anything JMS had written—then faxed the napkin to the screenwriters, but of course it got shredded by the fax machine. This left the screenwriters with no choice but to try to piece together what they could of what had probably been something decent if not brilliant but was now the screenplay equivalent of mincemeat. They threw in some filler for the parts they couldn't find or decipher. The end result: the mess that is Thor.

Truthfully, it's a textbook movie. It's so predictable one thinks it must have been written by film students who only just learned about plot and three-act structure. And it's streamlined all to hell—most character development has been cut in favor of action sequences. If we're supposed to believe there's some kind of chemistry between Jane Foster (Portman) and Thor (Hemsworth), well . . . Let's just say even my rather extensive ability to suspend my disbelief doesn't stretch quite so far.

As my husband put it, a lot of the movie is about a woman who doesn't drive very well. And I just had that "Rainbow Road" video from YouTube stuck in my head the entire time.

It probably didn't help that our cat's name is Loki. He would have made a much better villain, I think; especially if we got him that horned helmet and a cape.

All the scenes in Asgard look like cut scenes from a Final Fantasy game. And everything there is very shiny. Are Norse gods also magpies or something? They seem to really, really like shiny things is all I'm saying.

It wouldn't have hurt if Thor had had a tad more humor, either. I wanted a reason to laugh, even just once or twice, but most of the dialogue falls flat. That is to say, the stuff that maybe is supposed to be funny isn't, and none of it is unintentionally funny either, so the movie ends up feeling monotonous in overall tone.

As a whole, the feeling is they made Thor simply because they felt they had to in order to introduce the character in advance of The Avengers. If you do bother to watch, wait for the scene after the end credits; it was reportedly done by Joss Whedon (uncredited) and is in the style the rest of the movie should have been. Not that I don't love Branagh, and I'm sure he did the best he could with what he had for material, but . . . Seriously. Does Asgard really need to be that shiny?

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