By Sean Harris ’11
Marvel studios certainly has been busy lately.
After the shocking reveal of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in the post-credits scene of “Iron Man” back in 2008 it became clear that what they were attempting to do might be the most ambitious and risky Hollywood moves in recent memory.
What they were setting up was “The Avengers,” a movie that gets its namesake from the superhero team formed primarily by Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk.
Now that “The Avengers” is only a year away, Marvel plans to build anticipation by laying down the blueprints for two more characters this summer, “Captain America,” which will be released in July, and “Thor,” which was released May 6.
Having either of these two movies fail financially or critically would severely handicap the eventual “Avengers” movie.
Now that “Thor” has been released, it’s fair to say that Marvel can breathe a collective sigh. What has been done here turns one of the more risky properties into a likeable, if average, superhero movie.
The story of “Thor” is a fairly straightforward one. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the Norse god of thunder who lives in the mystical realm of Asgard.
Originally supposed to take over the throne from his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Thor instead enrages Odin when he starts a war with their Asgardian rivals, the frost giants.
Odin strips Thor of his powers and sends him to Earth to learn humility, where Thor encounters scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and a secret government agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D, who have been sent to inspect Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir.
Meanwhile at Asgard, Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the god of mischief, makes some plans of his own now that his brother is out of the way.
It’s a pretty basic story with a couple of minor character twists and allusions to “The Avengers.” Audiences should watch for an amazing cameo and, as always, stay until after the credits are done.
What makes “Thor” worth it in my opinion is the fact that it’s all so likeable and genuine, starting with Hemsworth’s performance. The Thor given in the movie is a far-cry away from the whiny brooding hothead seen in all of the trailers.
He’s loyal to a fault, exudes warmth, power and charisma and even manages to give the tired fish-out-of-water plot a few more chuckles. Seeing him alongside Robert Downey Jr. is going to be a real treat.
I wish I had more good things to say about the movie, but that’s about where the good things end and the average to bad start to rear their ugly head. Especially bad are the fight scenes, which are too short, too long or shot “Cloverfield” shaky-cam style.
Something that is also lacking is the character development. There’s a real sense of urgency in “Thor” which does help with the pacing, but having some time to understand the characters would be nice.
Once “The Avengers” is all said and done, I wouldn’t mind going back to Asgard for a strictly Thor-universe movie.
Ultimately, the film will be remembered as one of the movies that led up to “The Avengers.” In a similar vein to “The Incredible Hulk,” it’s going to be overshadowed by other films, but that certainly doesn’t make it a bad movie.
It’s fun, and it doesn’t ruin “The Avengers.” One final question mark hangs over the heads at Marvel, one more question mark before audiences officially have a superhero team-up.
Please don’t screw it up now.
3 out of 5 horseshoes.