MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence
Starring: Natalie Portman (Jane Foster), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Anthony Hopkins (Odin), and Tom Hiddleston (Loki)
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Chris Hemsworth is Thor
There is no doubt that Thor will be serviceable entertainment to the majority. I can’t help but focus on the inconsistencies of Thor. My ambivalence towards Thor may stem from the fact it overdramatises many scenes yet focuses on satirising its own nature, this combination is not cohesive. The satisfying scenes signify that the film is self-aware, it winks at the audience as it satirizes its own preposterous nature. In one scene Thor drinks a mug of coffee and proclaims “This Drink, I like it! Another!” to evince his enjoyment and request he crushes the mug into his fist and drops it oblivious to what we realise is socially unacceptable behaviour. It is funny because it is a conflict of cultures, as though an oppressive monarch of a bygone era. We as the viewer laugh, as we realise that his complacent communicative methods are not suited to the proprieties of society.
Thor focuses on its eponymous character and his endeavours to vanquish his brother and rival, Loki (Tom Hiddleson). Odin banishes Thor from Asgard out of righteous fury and Thor is left on Earth as a mortal. He meets Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) who decide to assume responsibility for him. He claims he can answer their questions of the Bifrost bridge and other mysteries of the universe. He inevitably will defeat Loki in the third act during a intense battle. Jane is fascinated by his idiosyncratic antics and awkward social ineptitude. He gradually adapts to western society although the majority of humour is derived from his inability to do so. There is an amusing scene in which Thor proclaims formidably “I Need Sustenance!” the physicians raise their eyebrows with contempt for Thor and his transparent methods of being formidable. Such dialogue would often be delivered by professional wrestlers rather than human beings. I find it refreshing to find a popcorn film that subversively criticises the poorly written dialogue of fantasy/action films in which it is commonplace for characters to deliver artificial and pretentious dialogue.
Why Thor is unsatisfying for the most part results from the fact that the characters are paradoxically discharging artificial dialogue of no interest whatsoever which is hypocritical on the film’s part. The dramatic sensibilities are difficult to take seriously, it stubbornly adheres to a familiar action formula consisting of an explanation of a supernatural entity, loud boisterous action and an endeavour to earth. It is as complacent as its protagonist whose jingoistic concern with bloodlust becomes a concern with humanity. If only the film’s had changed as the character did and became more concerned with human characters rather than thin caricatures. Can one comment on the performances in such a film? The Dialogue does preclude any credibility of the actors, but to watch such a film one must suspend their disbelief. Because the material contains little emotion, the actors are not emotive and do not raise the film’s quality.
Perhaps Kenneth Branagh was incorrectly cast as director. Branagh whose previous films include adaptations of Henry V and Hamlet can direct great Shakespeare but his area of expertise does not lie in directing entertainment but drama. Branagh utilises these Shakespearian archetypes and directs a story similar to King Lear in a mythological setting. His use of the Dutch angle becomes nauseating and serves no purpose, he often uses it to introduce a scene when it is not required. The screenplay is as insipid as Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespeare adaptations are brilliant, its intention is to propel its plot rather than focus on personalities.
There have been three prominent forms of comic book adaptations in recent years: The comic book adaptation that aspires to be entertainment, the ambitious comic adaptation that focuses on the implications of such powers and the comic book adaptation that attempts to focus on character but is ultimately relies on superficial affectations. It sporadically entertains yet it remains cold and distant. I admire its intentions and it can be charming and entertaining but I tire of films that contain action sequences that are loud, boisterous and unpleasant and yearn for the fun lunacy of films that don’t take themselves seriously. Thor may be fun, and I suspect many will believe so, but Thor lacks a soul and that is where the film’s flaws lie.