‘Thor’ is all thunder and lightning, but no substance

Marvel’s latest venture into the world of the superhero movie has certainly proven itself at the box office. After landing first place in its opening weekend, and expected to take number one in its second weekend. While the comic book publisher has a number of great properties that they could visit (a number of which they are in the next 2 years) I’ll admit that Thor was never at the top of my list. I don’t know what it is, but I just never really got into him that much, but his contribution to The Avengers is unquestionable so when it came down to it, I figured, “eh, why not?” Now, I know that’s not exactly high praise when a movie is met with such indifference, but I went in with an open mind, hoping that Thor would change my mind about the Norse god.

Unfortunately, Thor did little to change my mind and even less to impress me. The movie is your standard visual FX-laden origin story of an alien/God (still not sure where we landed on that one, guys) who comes to Earth and is changed by the love of a good woman. Or was it about practicing humility? That’s the main issue with Thor. It never seems too sure of what it wants to be. Does it want to be a rousing superhero movie or does it want to be a message movie? All signs indicate the former rather than the latter, but Thor comes off as so pious in certain moments that it’s hard to ignore.

What makes the film even more problematic than its actual story, is its execution. The film’s visual style does little to add to the story and more often than not, proves more distracting than anything else. Forget the fact that every other scene starts out with a canted angle, a tilted camera angle that Brannagh woefully overuses, but the scenes that take place in Asgard are particularly painful. The environment is too sterilized and too clean, basically too obviously CG, that it’s hard to invest in the setting. Without spoiling anything, there’s a scene where a character is dangling over the edge and is slipping. I knew there was supposed to be some sort of tension there, but considering the setting, all I could think was, “Yeah, that would suck to fall, like, 5 feet to the green screen mat…” Now I’m willing to practice suspension of disbelief, but when just about every other scene reeks of artifice, it becomes difficult to allow yourself much emotional involvement in the movie.

Not that Thor ever asks for much emotional involvement from its audience. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that it doesn’t ask for much emotional involvement from its characters at all. It was only about three quarters of the way through the movie that I even realized that i was actually supposed to be caring about the “romance” between Jane and Thor. Never mind the fact that at this point, their rather limited involvement with one another involved him being shirtless (clearly the most important factor at work here) and him smashing cups. Unfortunately, none of the characters are ever treated to much development.

In the end, Thor‘s main offense is that it does little to contribute to the genre or the character lore. Fans of the comic book legend Thor may enjoy the film, but as a skeptic who was hoping for something to change his mind, Thor offered very little. This isn’t to say that the entire film is a total loss. After all, Hemsworth shines in the title role and Kat Dennings provides a healthy dose of comic relief, but Thor never rises to the prominence that its titular character is promised in his home world.

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6 thoughts on “‘Thor’ is all thunder and lightning, but no substance

  1. I knew you would use thunder and lightning in the headline.
    I’m with you–I’m a skeptic hoping to have his mind changed. Still haven’t seen it and after reading your review I’m not sure I will.

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