THOR Review

by     Posted 3 years, 179 days ago

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Marvel’s Thor is the toughest of the lead Avengers to bring to the big screen.  He’s a cross between a space alien and a Norse god, he wields a hammer named Mjolnir instead of standard superhero weapons like guns or swords, and he wears a cape.  The character could fall so easily into camp territory, but director Kenneth Branagh takes the bold approach of playing the character completely straight but still keeps the movie fun and light.  This balance of broad comedy and bombastic action mixed with straight-faced drama comes from the perfect combination of lead actors Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston.  While the film does have some problems in developing the supporting characters, its biggest sin is in the 3D post-conversion which turns the bright shining lights of Asgard into a dim, blurry mess.  But if you catch the film in 2D, Thor is going to be some of the most fun you have in a theater this year.

Decades after the Asgardian king Odin (Anthony Hopkins) makes a truce with the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, Odin’s son Thor (Hemsworth) is set to take the throne.  Thor is cocky, brash, and vainglorious—the polar opposite of his brother Loki (Hiddleston) who is quiet, calm, and calculating.  On the day of Thor’s coronation, a trio of Frost Giants interrupts the party by attempting to steal back a superpowered casket that Odin took as the spoils of war.  The thieves are quickly obliterated by a giant mechanical guard known as “Destroyer”, but Thor is thirsty for vengeance.  Along with Loki, female warrior Sif (Jaimie Alexander), and the Warriors Three (Tadanobu Asano, Josh Dallas, and Ray Stevenson), Thor travels to Jotunheim, battles with the Frost Giants, and almost destroys the fragile truce that’s existed between the two realms.  Odin, disappointed with Thor’s actions, strips the warrior of his powers and banishes him to Earth.  Meanwhile, Loki remains in Asgard and continues to scheme his way to the throne.

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Watching the trailers, my biggest concern about Thor was how the film would handle the character’s life on Earth.  Everything on Asgard looked grand, but I was worried that sticking the character on our planet without his superpowers would lead to a dull story that would strip away what makes the character unique.  But Hemsworth’s performance always lets us know that Thor is there.  He may not be summoning down lightning bolts, but Hemsworth conveys the character’s easy charm, rugged nobility, and astounding confidence to the point where we always see the cape and armor even if they’re not physically present.  Thor’s attitude and the way he plays off astrophysicists Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) provides the bulk of the film’s humor and keeps the film from falling into tired “fish out of water” jokes.

Where Branagh keeps the movie serious is with Loki’s story.  Thor may be the title character and the hero, but Thor is just as much about Loki’s origin.  Hiddleston does an outstanding job of defining the character without having Loki fall into a predictable performance.  Lesser actors would have turned Loki to either the familiar moustache-twirling schemer or put the character into a constant sate of petulant jealousy.  But Hiddleston makes the wise decision to bring a great sadness and regret to Loki and that choice pays off in a big way.  Hiddleston forces us to empathize with the villain and while the story is broad enough that there can be no debate as to whether or not Loki is the “bad guy”, we can also understand where the character is coming from and that his motives aren’t “Evil” in big flashing letters.

Thor_movie_image Tom Hiddleston

But between the character arcs of Thor and Loki, the film has some difficulty in squeezing in all of the supporting characters and relationships.  The presence of SHIELD and the foundations for The Avengers are integrated far better than they were in Iron Man 2 and the film is even able to introduce a new Avenger without slowing down the plot.  However, the relationship between Thor and Jane—the movie’s romance subplot—is kept afloat not because the characters spend so much time together, but because of the strong performances and chemistry between Hemsworth and Portman.  The Warriors Three and Sif are also undeveloped and the movie misses a key opportunity to define the Asgardian warriors during the battle on Jotunheim.

But the battle on Jotunheim has far bigger problems than a lack of character development.  Marvel made the greedy decision to give Thor a 3D post-conversion that only served to jack up the cost of ticket prices while providing a worse visual experience in return.  The battle on Jotunheim is the movie’s first big set piece.  It shows us what Thor can do when he’s wielding his hammer and it’s one of only three major action scenes in the movie.  The 3D reduces the battle to a blurry grey mess by draining all of the color and definition from the visuals.  There is not a single moment in Thor where I thought “The 3D made this better,” but there were plenty of moments where I thought “The 3D is ruining this movie.”  If you see Thor—and you should—save your money, see it in 2D, and let Marvel and the rest of Hollywood know that we’re sick of shitty 3D post-conversions.

Thor proves two things: First up—the character and his universe can be successfully adapted to the big screen, and in the hands of a director like Kenneth Branagh who knows how to play up a Shakespearean angle while still keeping the film relatable to modern audience, Thor works wonders.  Hemsworth and Hiddleston keep the film anchored in honest character moments that allows Branagh to paint on a huge canvas in Asgard and keep the action light and silly down on Earth.  But the other thing that Thor proves is that studios need to stop with 3D post-conversions.  They hurt the movie, rip off audiences, and it will ultimately only serve to drive audiences away from theaters.  The 3D in Thor isn’t worthy of fans, of casual moviegoers, or the gods.

Rating: B+

Thor_movie_poster Chris Hemsworth Thor




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  • Ryan

    Bought my ticket for the 2-D showing yesterday. Looking forward to it.

  • sloan

    so…. you don’t like 3D post conversions? Jk, I hate them too. Maybe hollywood will get it, but I doubt it

    • Old Soldier

      Hollywood will NEVER get it. They make billions they obviously know more than we do.

  • micoy

    3 words: Branagh is great!

  • Aniket

    Awesome movie!! Chris Hemsworth & Tom Hiddleston are just amazing!!

  • Saydave

    Nice! Great review!

  • SDG

    Stop complaining about the 3D. I don’t think the studios will listen and there are some people that actually have no problems with 3D. Get over it.

    • Daniel

      It’s not 3D in general that he’s complaining about. He’s pointing out the flaws of post-production 3D conversion, which has NEVER worked (look at the mess that was Clash of the Titans).

      When a film is actually shot with 3D cameras, there are some worthwhile images. When it’s converted afterwards, the process kills the color palette and causes more eye strain than is worth it.

    • Michael

      No, I’d rather he not “get over it.” I’d rather he and other Collider writers inform the readers about such things, and then we can make more informed decisions.

      Besides, perhaps it’s out of your grasp, but these sites are for anyone who wants to read articles on them — you talk as if it’s strictly some trade magazine delivered directly to Hollywood executives.

      • Cartouche

        YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.

        I forgo the reviews in my local paper because I want the truth about the whole movie experience.

        I was very excited to see this in IMAX 3-D but will definitely not see it in that format after reading this review. Wish it was just offered in IMAX w out the 3-D.

        I was hoping we were done with shitty 3-D conversions after the beating CLASH OF THE TITANS took but apprently not.

        You can read in the interview with the director (KB) yesterday and he admits it was a huge undertaking so its possible he was just to overwhelmed with a project this big.

        I would imagine a more experienced director would have been able to focus on the quality of the conversion as well. Not a shot at KB but if the quality is as life killing as the review says then they should be accountable and own it. For 18 dollar ticket in IMAX 3-D we should expect a product worth it.

        I am a little pissed that KB would put this kind of product out there being an actor an all.

        I believe Green Hornet was a post 3-D conversion and it looked great in IMAX 3-D.
        Then again Gondry is an excellent director.

        Still going to see this but I am gonna see it with the D-BOX seats rather than IMAX 3-D.. shame on yourself KB!!

        Great review thanks for the warning..

    • Michael

      And, furthermore, so because “some” people don’t have any problem with 3D, he shouldn’t criticize bad 3D post-conversion? The logic you present in your post is very problematic.

    • Bill Graham

      3D in cinemas gives the consumer a very unique ability to directly voice our opinions on the matter… with our wallet. If WE, as consumers, can push the 2D ticket sales over the 3D ticket sales, that tells the studios something: We are tired of post-conversion.

      If you think we should just shut up and be quiet because we can’t do anything about it, you’re wrong. Our opinion is stated with our wallet. Spend it wisely.

  • SDG

    I think everyone is jealous that there won’t be another movie to match the first-time experience of Avatar. I honestly think that’s what your issue is.

    • TheTrickster

      I think Avatar was a exception, a very specific case. The Imax 3d was amazing. But I haven’t seen one movie since that needed 3d or used it in a way to actually improve the experience.

    • Hrothgar

      Why would movie-goers be “jealous” of Avatar? That makes no sense, especially since we are PAYING to see a movie, we’re not the ones making a profit of it. I for one will not be paying for crappy 3D post conversion because I prefer quality of gimmicks.

      • Hrothgar

        *to gimmicks.

  • cuteview

    I still won’t see it…beside it will be out on a pirated DVD in less than a week…

    • KratosRevenge

      And it will look like shit. How cheap are you? Or do you just enjoy watching low quality picture? Matinee isn’t a bad option you know. Otherwise if you have no interest in this movie then you shouldn’t even be posting on the subject.

    • giovanni

      its been online since last week

    • sense 11

      i don’t care what anybody says, pirated movies look like shit. Whats the point of watching a 150 million dollar movie in such a shitty way.

  • TheTrickster

    I saw the movie last friday and to me the review is spot-on. Asgard looks amazing. Kat Dennings character though should be scrapped from the movie.

    • http://collider.com Matt Goldberg

      She needs to be in the movie so that Jane and Erik have an audience surrogate to explain their science stuff to. But I’ll agree that the comic relief she provides is unnecessary since Hemsworth and the script provide the movie’s biggest laughs.

      • TheTrickster

        Totally agree. And Hemsworth’s comic relief moments are pretty good. Probably because they seem very natural.

  • mike

    How much of the movie is accually in 3d?

  • Rune Alexander

    Amazing movie! Loved it so much. The actors, and especially Chris Hemsworth, are great. The film is entertaining, funny and moving. Great action and epic sets and effects!

  • gimpsuit

    The 3D in Thor is the best conversions I’ve seen and actually really good. This guy has a problem with 3D no matter what, I’d hardly expecting him to heap cglowing praise on a conversion.
    All of the movie is in 3D, like every other 3D movie some scene have the effect dialed down a bit. There are some stunnign 3D shots in this film, and the film itself is a whole heap of fun.
    And here we go again, does Thor NEED 3D? No, does any film? No. Does any film NEED sound? No. Does any film NEED CG? No.
    The only thing a film actaully needs is a visual element to watch.
    3D is simply another tool to experience a film.
    And another thing, you guys whining on about eye strain must have the wimpist eyes around. I watch nearly every 3D film coming out and don’t have any issue at all. Man up you pansy ass douches. Oh, mommy my eyes are tired I hate cinema now.
    And another thing, despite what you clowns think, most people actually love 3D.

    • Bill Graham

      If you could form a coherent sentence without a handful of flaws in each, your opinion might make an impact on me. As it stands, it’s just gibberish.

  • gimpsuit

    ” The 3D reduces the battle to a blurry grey mess by draining all of the color and definition from the visuals.”
    You mean 3D reduced a battle set in a gloomy grey cave into a grey, colourless mess? FFS, practically the only thing of colour in that scene was Thor’s cape.
    Get over yourself you clown.

  • Migz13

    Since I’m from asia.. I saw it over a week ago already. All I can say is I wasn’t disappointed about the way the whole movie was presented. I think it’s a nice mix of action, comedy and inter-celestial drama. Looking forward to captain america and see if it steps up this good as well:D

  • Deborah

    If anyone is interested in reading a review in Spanish, here is a link

    http://www.manganzon.com/noticias/417-thor-abrira-un-verano-invadido-por-superheroes.html

  • Deborah

    If anyone is interested in reading a review in Spanish, visit our webpage http://www.manganzon.com

  • sense 11

    I cant wait to see it but in a nice digital 2D theater.

  • Terry

    I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist but I think some of you on here are paid.
    From what I saw from the previews Thor looks like some Sci Fi channel shit.And the running gag where he, Thor, acts all tough and then is tranquilized is so yesterday.

    • ajnapjr

      I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I think you work for Warner Bros. in the Green Lantern PR department.

  • Josh

    Couldn’t agree more. With all of it.

    http://joshwinning.blogspot.com/2011/04/thor-2011.html

  • a.j.

    good movie, not worth the 3d ticket.

  • Josh

    Great Review.

    Didn’t think the 3D was terrible, though. Needless yes, added nothing, but it far from ruined it. That said, I am looking forward to catching it again in 2D.

  • Yahzee Skellington

    I’m fucking tired of the whole 3D fad… the only way I can see Thor in the country where I live is in 3D… or dubbed in Spanish… I guess I’m missing a truly great time at the theater… again…

  • space cadet

    i saw thor in 2 1/2 D it was amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Not in 3D or 2D but 2 1/2 D!

  • Tracy

    I attended an advanced screening this week and I agree your review wholeheartedly – unfortunately I saw it in the 3D version – but in 2D I’m sure it ROCKS. Major chemistry between Hemsworth & Portman & The Frost Giants are crazy cool.

  • Pepe

    I saw it last night — it was laughably awful. I can’t believe people are getting hung up over the 2D v. 3D thing when the storyline, main character development, acting, and special effects look like they’re straight out of an 80′s camp movie.

    C’mon, Asgard looked like Flash Gordon’s Planet Mong; we’re led to believe that Thor went from a merciless war hungry warrior to a humble breakfast making giant in what appears to be the timeline of the movie , two days; the two love birds probably have 15 minutes of screen time together (which is fine by me, but having Thor falling so deeply in love in that time is the stuff bad chick flicks are made of).

    I read in another review that this would live up to the glory days of Iron and Dark Knight — what an insult to those Directors.

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  • jack

    I thought this was a the most brilliant superhero movie i had seen in a long time, the special effects were great the actors were awesome, plus there was tons of asgard action, what more could a thor fan want?

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