Sunday, May 15, 2011

Film Review: Thor

Well, I can't say I was expecting much, so I can't say I was disappointed. In fact, Thor was passably entertaining. Unlike the Batman movies it's not stuffed with emotional sturm und drang, and Kenneth Branagh, the director, seems well aware that he's making a popcorn movie for teens and kids, unlike Christopher Nolan, who seems to think his target audience is moody hipsters.

Two things work in Thor's favour: first, it has a sense of humour. I'm not saying it's a laughfest, but the preposterousness of a Norse god arriving in a small town in New Mexico is milked for a few laughs, and Thor's relationship with his human allies (Natalie Portman and Stellan Skaarsgard) is kept light and silly. Even the romance between Thor and Portman's character is kept at a flirtatious level. The second point in the film's favour is that it's brief. Too many of the superhero/summer blockbusters go on and on and on, like some kind of tights and testosterone Berlin Alexanderplatz.

The weakest part of Thor are the action elements, which are just a CGI rehash of your average episode of Wrestlemania. I also have to quibble with Asgard, home of the Norse Gods: it looks more like an insanely expensive hotel in Dubai than an abode of the gods. But then that style has become common in sci-fi/fantasy films over the last 20 or so years--alternate realities apparently look startlingly like first-class airport departure lounges.

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