Sunday, May 8, 2011
Thor is a better movie than it is a superhero movie. It's still a fine superhero movie, but it stops short of being amazing or astonishing.
In fact, there's a sense in which Thor goes out of its way not to astonish. It expends a great deal of thought and effort towards grounding its ideas and setting. This is ultimately a movie whose primary function is to fold Thor into the world established in Iron Man. And, to its credit, it accomplishes this goal gloriously. It manages to adapt a huge swath of Lee and Kirby's Asgard. The Warriors Three, Heimdall, and Sif are all featured - quite prominently, in fact - in the film.
But it always feels as though these things are being folded into the existing world of Tony Stark, into a world of science and reason. In comics, Thor exists by rules written for Thor, and the greater shared Universe allows the various laws of physics and logic to clash. While we loved the crossovers and cameos, these should have felt grounded in the logic of Thor's world for his movie.
The character work here was very strong. Branagh feels right at home playing with Norse gods, and the dialogue works extremely well. The script drops the absurdity of the "thee's", "thou's", and "verily's", while the actors convey the sense these terms were always meant to impart. Clearly, a great deal of thought and attention to detail went into this, and it shows.
And yet, it's difficult not to feel a sense of disappointment. It was a good movie, but Thor spent a greater portion of the film powerless than Kal-El did in Superman II. We only caught a glimpse of Thor as a superhero: a single moment towards the end.
Despite the fact that Thor's origin is no more complex, the movie was hindered by the same issues that plague all origin movies: too much time spent grounding the magic and majesty they should be celebrating.
Thor comes close to Iron Man, but falls a bit short. If Iron Man's a four star film, than Thor is three and three-fourths. However, we're going to bump that to four. Why? Because of what comes after the credits. You thought the teaser at the end of Iron Man was good?