Monday April 25th 2011
Depending on your perspective, it’s been either three or nine years since the last decent Marvel film. In either case, it’s safe to say that the outlook was not so good on Kenneth Branagh’s long-awaited Thor movie.
And at first glance, it shows no signs of bucking the trend. Opening with a grossly extended coronation ceremony up in the supremely tedious (and oddly unpopulated) world of Asgard, Branagh’s film is wall-to-wall CGI palaces, enormous torsos and meaningless expositional crap about that time Thanjad rescued Postin from the prison of Azkaban and crossed back through the Bifocal just in time for a pint of mead with Gandalf the Grey.
It continues in much the same vein for what feels like hours but realistically can only have been twenty minutes or so. But then! When it seems like all hope of a knockabout superhero romp is lost, Thor comes literally crashing down to Earth and the fish out of water (Norse God out of Asgard) LOLs are ready to begin.
And for a while, it really works, with Thor’s ludicrously pompous manner getting him into all sorts of wacky scrapes as Natalie Portman’s pointless love interest chases him around town trying to work out who he is. She’s a scientist (Strong Female Character alert) and you can tell, because she says she spends a lot of time ‘reconciling particle data’. And MAN ALIVE can she reconcile particle data. She’s like the marriage counsellor of elementary physics.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that witnessing all this humanity would encourage the God of Thunder to change his ways and return to his homeland with a more laid-back attitude to life. Who knows, maybe he’ll even teach some of the supafly street slang he’s learnt to his deity mandem?
But no, Thor returns to Asgard and once again we’re expected to take seriously the threat of an army of giants who all look like Mr. Freeze from Batman and Robin.
We’re left in a situation where we’re encouraged to laugh at the pontifical Gods and their backwards ancient ways, while also giving a shit about their pointless mythological wars. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t stick.
And then of course there’s S.H.I.E.L.D., the mysterious government agency who’ve been popping up incomprehensibly in every Marvel movie since 2008 and making them all exponentially more confusing. Their presence isn’t quite as distracting as it was in Iron Man 2, but it is getting to the point where I’m actively expecting to see ‘that guy who plays the agent’ every time I go the cinema.
But for all its faults, Thor isn’t boring. Frustrating, illogical, messy: yes. Boring: no. And as it turned out, that’s all I really wanted from it. It’s all very well doing a superhero movie full of satire and politics and social commentary, but if it turns out as unspeakably tedious as Iron Man 2 then what’s the point? Thor may not have the star power, street cred or brand recognition of some of its fellow Marvel titles, but at least it’s funny and fun AND I LIKED IT GODDAMN IT. DO I HAVE TO JUSTIFY EVERY FUCKING THING I SAY?! Leave me alone.