Now Thor is a movie about a Norse god,
Who wields a big hammer and has a nice bod.
He’s foolish and arrogant, fearless and buff,
Heroic and such, and he knows that he’s tough.
He’s about to be crowned by his dad, but alas
Some Frost Giants steal an antique from the past.
It’s taken away from their frostbitten mitts
When a robot Destroyer thing blows them to bits.
Thor is outraged, but Odin stays cool,
Reminding his son that Thor does not yet rule.
When Thor rashly decides to assault the Frosts back,
He fights hard but soon he regrets the attack.
For the Frost Giant king says war’s now a fact
Because of Thor’s foolish and arrogant act.
Once back in Asgard, Odin disciplines Thor
By taking his power away, and what’s more,
He casts his son out where few people dare go,
A far distant land called New Mexico.
That’s when Thor is hit by one Jane Foster’s van.
He’s fine but confused; he is now just a man.
Jane takes the god in; she likes him (wonder why)
And can’t seem to give him a final goodbye.
She helps him to find his lost hammer Mjolnir,
Which SHIELD is researching for reasons unclear,
So he fights through their agents with never a fear.
He’s there within reach, strong in body and will,
And yet he can’t lift it; he’s not worthy still.
Meanwhile, Thor’s brother Loki comes to find
That he’s a Frost Giant, to whom Dad had been kind.
Through several Shakespearean lies and deceit,
He becomes Asgard’s king and plots Thor’s defeat.
He sends the Destroyer to kill his old brother
And tries to wipe out the Frosts, to please Father.
By off’ring himself for the humans, great Thor
Becomes worthier than he ever was before.
The hammer responds, and his power’s restored,
And he beats the Destroyer with hammer, not sword.
Then back to Asgard to fight Loki he goes,
Defending the Giants that once were his foes.
In stopping ol’ Loki, despite its great worth,
Thor smashes his only way back down to Earth.
Once Loki falls into some wormhole of sorts
And Thor’s back in honor in Asgard’s high courts,
He misses poor Jane, who seeks (not in vain)
For a way she and he can be together again.

All right, so the list begins with Thor, the cinematic version of Marvel’s version of the mythological Norse figure. Just because Thor is at the bottom of the list, don’t think that that means it’s not good. It is a decent superhero movie with outstanding production values and a good moral besides. But something is missing.

I’ll start by going over the main criteria for the list, what I call the ACEVOW system with a 1 to 10 scale, 1 being really poor and 10 being perfect.

The A is for Artistry, which Thor can certainly claim to some extent. Being directed by Kenneth Branagh, it has a notable Shakespearean feel mixed with the comic book references. The complexity of Loki’s plan to kill a whole race to measure up to his brother in the eyes of his father sounds like something out of Shakespeare’s unfinished works. Some scenes could have taken place on a stage; others are carefully arranged for the screen, such as a simple scene of a man’s face poking through a doorway, his face reflected in the mirror right next to him.

The C is for Characters/Actors. This is the main stumbling block for Thor. Thor himself is not nearly as interesting a character as Tony Stark or Steve Rogers, and those with whom he comes in contact are even less so. Love interest Jane Foster, her colleagues Erik Selvig and Darcy, and Thor’s four comrades-in-arms are sadly forgettable stock characters with some good lines and little else. On the other hand, Tom Hiddleston as Loki and Anthony Hopkins as Odin lend some serious acting chops to roles that could have fallen flat with lesser actors.

E is for Entertainment. Thor is highly entertaining, though rather slow in parts, even when the visual effects are at their finest. With so much mythology involved—the Bifrost, the Odinsleep, the Frost Giants, the Nine Realms connected by the branches of the cosmic tree Yggdrasil—it can easily become overwhelming to those not familiar with the source material. That being said, the writers did a pretty good job emphasizing the important elements and letting the rest just fade into the background to be taken for granted.

The V is Visual Effects, which Thor certainly does well. Between the epic battle scenes and mythological landscapes, the effects artists did a right decent job, though they’re not the best I’ve seen. Also, the costume designs were awful. I know much of it was inspired by the comics, but Loki’s horned helmet just looked stupid.

Originality is the O, which does not come into play that much, since this is an adaptation of a comic book. But I will say that the part with Thor sacrificing himself and “dying,” while noble, was completely predictable since we all knew he’d get his hammer and beat the bad guy and come back for The Avengers. That last point even removes some of the pathos of being separated from his beloved what’s-her-name at the end.

Lastly, the W is for Watchability, particularly for repeated viewings. I will say that I enjoyed Thor more this time than the first time I saw it, but, despite its sweeping vistas and great hammer strokes, it feels somehow small, like a film that doesn’t add much to the Marvel universe except another hero and a bunch of mythology that few really care about. Still, it’s enjoyable enough and does provide a good lesson: warning against arrogance and extolling sacrifice.

My VC agreed about the costumes and said the best reason to watch was Hemsworth’s abs and pecs. Women!

Best line: Thor calling Agent Coulson, “Son of Coul.” Hilarious!

Artistry – 5
Characters/Actors – 3
Entertainment – 5
Visual Effects – 6
Originality – 2
Watchability – 4
TOTAL:  25 out of 60

Tomorrow — #364: The Devil Wears Prada

© 2014 S. G. Liput