MFR Rating: ★ ★
Smash. Bam. Bore. It really does feel like they’re really scraping the barrel now. I’ve never read Thor, I’d never heard of Thor. I’m sure it has its following and people are welcome to enjoy it, comics are just a medium I’ve never really explored. But does every superhero/comic book need to be converted into a movie?
The box office thinks so, but it’s become dull and suffocating for innovative screenwriting. Christopher Nolan has obviously shown how it can be made with depth and direction but the past decade has been frustratingly overloaded with blockbusting, sub-par, superpeople. With the Spiderman franchise receiving a completely unnecessary reboot, The Green Hornet managing to go under most people’s radars at the beginning of the year whilst the similar named Green Lantern is also set for a summer blockbuster. Oh, and Captain America is preparing for a summer launch (which is just the build-up for Marvel worlds colliding with the 2012 release of The Avengers). And I’m pretty sure there’s something X-Men related and something else Wolverine-ish in the pipeline (it can’t be much worse than the first Wolverine, I’m convinced).
But for now our attentions turn to Thor, a film already primed for a successful franchise with a sequel guaranteed and further Thor-ific adventures in The Avengers. Not even officially released and already primed for two more films, Marvel know there is no risk. These are franchise, ready-to-eat movies. They are guaranteed profit, so they will be churned out relentlessly. When did films stop being films and start to become franchises?
Kenneth Branagh is the somewhat unlikely director of this tale of an arrogant and ancient Norse God of the fantasy realm of Asgard, expelled to earth after his recklessness reignites an ancient war. Scenes on Asgard barely hide behind the bluescreen of post-George Lucasian prequel-era sets, whilst acting on the planet is often as convincing as a particularly impassioned Anakin. But that’s no snipe at Natalie Portman or Chris Hemsworth, who are perfectly passable and involved in some of the film’s better, lighter moments taking place on our own planet. Although a literal thinking pedant like myself might scorn over the ancient Thor’s ability to communicate with American humans, the film’s most successful moments lie in its moments of humour, which sees Thor’s grasp of old, formal English clash with modern day America. But while it has its moments, Thor is not a comedy and its superhero action just feels flat, empty and tired.
It was very disappointing to see the magnificent Idris Elba reduced to a bizarre, robotic gatekeeper of the mythical world. Elba is a man who could (and should) be a real star if given a reasonable role, which just makes it all the more disappointing to see such a talented actor reduced to such nothingness. I’m still not quite sure what his role was, or what his character does on weekends, but it all felt pretty comic booky and poorly adapted.
This is very much a bit of popcorn escapism, there’s nothing that will linger with you and it’s not dreadful, just thoroughly unremarkable. I won’t go on about the 3D, but it was completely unnecessary and unsatisfying. In spite of its over two hour running time and my personal indifference towards the film, it didn’t particularly feel like it dragged on. But I do wonder if I might have nodded off for a bit in the middle.
Thor opens on 27 April in the UK and 6 May in the US. Certificate 12A (UK), Running time: 130 mins (NOTE: Fans of Marvel will want to stick around until the end of the credits)
Review by David Rank