Those who know me have probably caught on to the fact that I’m a sucker for adaptations of heroic comics, and when I read comic books as a kid, Thor was my favorite. An arrogant hothead with daddy issues who pretty much did as he pleased, until he screwed things up, then brooded about it and got all sensitive. And all while sporting his flowing blond locks and viking war garb, complete with horns and cape. Come on, who could resist?
As you can imagine, I would have been heartily disappointed had my impressions been shattered by this late-model interpretation. But they weren’t. Chris Hemsworth is well suited to the role. Anthony Hopkins is terrific as Odin. Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson is reliable as ever. And I loved Tom Hiddleston as the marvelously conflicted and malevolent Loki. The scenery of Asgard is opulent, the effects suited to the Avenger-verse, and the storyline of the heroes coming together advanced.
I typically don’t read reviews of films I’m seeing (often I’ll check out what others say after I’ve reviewed a movie myself). But a friend sent me Roger Ebert’s review, and it made my blood boil a bit. First, how inappropriate is it to snottily say “I was watching something much more highbrow, so I missed seeing this for a while”? (Yes, that’s a paraphrase and not a direct quotation, so don’t sue me, Rog.) Bad manners aside, what I disagree with the most are Ebert’s pokes at the location of Asgard (it was all explained in the film, had one been paying attention) and disdain for Loki as a villain. I was quite impressed with Loki and the development of his character’s motivation, and I certainly was thinking about him much longer than six minutes after the movie ended. I’m still thinking about him.
So, that’s the contented part (and the contentious part). Now, the dissatisfaction. Thor is a good summer flick, but it did not blow me away. It’s no Iron Man. Most disappointing was the abysmal underdevelopment of the human characters. Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, and Kat Dennings are completely wasted. With Kenneth Branagh at the helm, this was astonishing and perplexing. He knows better.
Bottom line: Thor is a worthy addition to the growing Avenger pantheon, and a solid B of a movie-going experience.