Thor: Lights, action, but what is up with the camera?
Let’s look back at Norse mythology: in the kingdom of Asgard, King Odin had a son named Thor. Thor was the god of thunder, forging lightning bolts and causing terror to the humans. He was a god from a distant planet banished down to Earth to fight his brother Loki and take back the kingdom. At least, that was how Marvel tells it with the movie Thor.
Marvel teases us more with this next “Avengers” movie directed by Kenneth Branagh, the same Kenneth Branagh responsible for the Shakespeare films. It’s been pretty anticipated ever since Iron Man 2 prepared us for it. We knew this would happen since we were promised a movie starring The Avengers. This adaptation introduces us to the god himself in a way only a Marvel movie could do: explosive, amusing and visually cool to watch. Yet, I cannot say that this movie is awesome. I want to say that I enjoyed this movie, but the camerawork and the script really need work. It’s hard to focus on the tale of a god when EVERYTHING IS AT AN ANGLE or ON THE SIDE. What is it about these people that try to be creative with the camerawork? The visuals were artistic enough.
Thor (Chris Helmsworth) is banished to Earth the day he is supposed to be crowned king by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) for threatening war with the Ice Giants. When Odin becomes incapacitated, Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) takes over and tries to rule Asgard as his own. Thor, aided by Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her team, tries to get back to Asgard but finds it hard to do so because he’s mortal.
The world of Asgard is definitely a sight to see. The setting has been done creatively to the point where it’s just cool to view. The scope of this film adds some depth to the world of Thor and its cosmos. Most of the special effects behind the film were definitely appealing, but most of the effects behind the creatures didn’t appear real. Even for upgraded technology, most of the creatures came across as fake. Cool as they appeared, you knew right away they weren’t there. Still, the action delivers some amusing scenes. Thor, as cocky as he appears in the beginning, knows how to put up a fight. Hell, he’s freakin’ taller than everyone else. The fight scene with the Ice Giants threw in some really nice fights. The battle with the giant was cool even if it looked like it came from The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Chris Helmsworth actually does a decent job portraying his character. He gives Thor the right amount of energy and fun to really make him likable and range to make him seem somewhat human. He makes his character humorous and enjoyable for audiences. Natalie Portman, on the other hand, didn’t really give it her all. This isn’t her best role (which does sound stupid since she won the Oscar for Black Swan; it is hard to top that). I wasn’t convinced that she was Jane Foster or even in love with Thor. The other actors were pretty hit and miss: Kat Dennings was funny as Darcy, but Stellan Starsgaard didn’t seem all impressive. Anthony Hopkins hasn’t given any good performances since Hannibal Lector, but he plays Odin okay. He’s not really impressive that much. Tom Hiddleston as Loki seemed borderline-hammy. He appeared to be almost over-the-top and even forgettable.
The script could have used some work. Some of the lines were pretty funny such as “He drank, he fought, he did his ancestors proud”, but there were some that were just really stupid. “Do me a favor and don’t be dead”? Who says that? Nobody does. At first, the story seems to be a bit ridiculous, but some things do clear up. The villain is the hero’s brother: that’s a cliché so old that it’s beyond eye-rolling. However, Loki technically isn’t Thor’s brother since he really is an Ice Giant. As Thor is the god of thunder, being tased does seem farfetched as an effective means. Yet, he lost his powers upon impact, so that makes sense.
But if the script isn’t one thing, it’s the camerawork. Most of the scenes were shot at an angle; many of which didn’t need to be at one. The movie’s in widescreen, so we can see everything fine. There’s no need to put everything in a diagonal. Ever heard of a movie called Battlefield Earth, one of the worst movies of all time? Almost every scene is at an angle in that movie as well. Some things don’t work. The camera is supposed to represent the view of the storytelling. Nobody tells stories at a 45⁰ tilt. I don’t need to see S.H.I.E.L.D. interrogating Thor at a slant. The camera showing it straight is just fine. Also, what is it about movies moving the characters too far to the left or too far to the right? I understand rule of thirds, but even some of these scenes are just extreme. Characters are so far left and/or right that they’re practically out of the scene.
Bottom line: I want to love Thor, but the technical aspects get in the way. The worlds are pretty creative. The fight scenes are cool. Helmsworth does a pretty good job with his character. However, the camerawork is just frustrating. See it for what it’s worth, but it’s not the best Marvel movie.
Final Rating: 7 out of 10 – I’d Go