Movie Review: Thor

If you haven’t seen it, and you plan on seeing it, don’t read any further.

Fathers and sons … not to mention brothers … have a notorious time getting along!  That’s something I can relate to, and while I have not read any Thor comics, I suspect that this create a lot of the conflict in the plots … it matters not if you are mortal, or if your address is Asgard.

The opening narration is from Odin (Anthony Hopkins), and explains the backstory as to how the Asgardians came to protect Earth from an invasion of frost giants.  Odin’s forces were victorious after a long battle which saw Earth protected, the frost giants stripped of their powers (contained in a glowing blue casket), and Odin minus an eye.  We are then introduced to Odin’s two sons: Thor and Loki.  As eldest, Thor is in line to succeed his father.

We fast forward to the day of Thor’s ascension.  He is respected by his fellow “gods”, though Odin has his doubts.  The ceremony is interrupted when frost giants are killed trying to reclaim their glowing blue casket.  Thor is enraged, and demands permission to travel to the frost giants realm to seek retribution.  Odin refuses, but Thor gathers his fellow Asgardians together, and manages to start a small war that only ends when Odin arrives to bail him out.  Back at Asgard, Odin and Thor argue … to which Odin strips the arrogant punk of his powers, takes his hammer, Mjolnir, and casts him down to Earth … throwing his hammer after him by saying that he who is worthy can take the hammer and be granted the power of Thor.  Thor ends up in New Mexico.

It turns out that Thor is picked up by an astrophysicist (Natalie Portman) who is interested in wormholes, and thinks that the occasional storms that pop up around the world (really the opening of the Rainbow Bridge, Bifrost, to Earth) is an Einstein-Rosen Bridge.  She picks up Thor who is strong, but pretty powerless.  Sometime later, his hammer lands in a crater nearby, and attracts SHIELD agents.  Thor attempts to retrieve his hammer, but is unable to lift it, since only Thor or his father can lift the hammer.

Meanwhile, back on Asgard, we learn that Loki was in fact the orphaned child of frost giants, whom Odin claimed at the end of the war, because Odin felt sorry for him, he was adopted as Odin’s own son.  We also learn that it was Loki who snuck the frost giants in to Asgard.  Odin falls into a coma, and Loki assumes the throne of Asgard,

This sets up the end game whereby Thor must reclaim his powers and defeat Loki’s plans to destroy the Earth, and unite Asgard under his rule with the frost giants.

One of the problems with all-powerful godlike superheros is that the choice of villain is limited.  This has been the long problem with translating Superman to the screen … in order to come up with convincing villains, you often have to decay the story into cheesy improbable bad guys.  Certainly, Loki is not that case, but to go further would be a problem.  The key to successful heros is always in the villain (this is why Batman translates better to screen).

Overall, it was not a bad film, but I did not think it compared favorably to Spider-Man or Iron Man.  The one point I thought this film did a great job with is the melding of science and fantasy.  Thor at one point notes that the Asgardians are not really gods … they merely possess a level of science so advanced that it resembles magic.  Asgard looks like a fantastical city, but it really does run on a technology that happens to be advanced (as noted, the famed rainbow bridge that connects Asgard to various realms is a piece of technology which opens a wormhole).  This doesn’t explain things like Thor’s hammer, but I was very willing to overlook a little inconsistency.

It was also interesting to see that Sif, one of the female warrior Asgardians, was integrated into the story very well … she was the first to doubt Loki’s motives, and fought equally along side the rest of the Asgardians in battle … a really strong (if not supporting) female role.

Overall, it was a solid film.  I’m not sure that we will see a sequel, which might be a good idea, though Thor will be back as a part of The Avengers in 2012.  That should be a fitting coda for a hero who does have a good following through the years.

There was certainly nothing questionable for the kids, so it might be an interesting film for even younger kids who want some eye candy.

Even if it was not the very best film I saw, I got to see it with long time friends Ed and RJ … so the evening was far, far from a loss!

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