Monday, December 02, 2013

THOR 2: My review (if I had a hammer)

The first THOR movie didn’t work for me. Not being up on the mythology of Thor I was somewhat confused and said so in my review. As a result I was crushed by fanboys. You would have thought I had said something nice about Patty Heaton – that’s how furious the Thor faithful were. The film did well at the boxoffice of course, and a 2 was hatched.

I decided to see the sequel. Full disclosure: if CAPTAIN PHILLIPS had played at a better time I would have seen that. But it didn’t so I gave Hammer Boy another try. Two things: Sometimes sequels are better than the original (SUPERMAN II back in the day… and I’m sure there are other examples), and now that I have a sense of the mythology I would be more up to speed. Guys wearing twisted Jewish shofars on their heads wouldn’t throw me. Plus, I love a good action flick.

So I went in with a completely open mind.

And I can say, objectively speaking, knowing the comment consequences I may face – that THOR 2 was just a giant fucking mess. Bring it on fanboys, point to its boxoffice success, call me a thousand years old – this was a jumbled train wreck of epic proportions.

You know when you see a trailer and there are all these quick cuts of explosions and special effects? A dazzling ninety-second montage of CGI? Well, imagine that for two straight hours. That was THOR 2. Completely and utterly incomprehensible. Action-packed, I’ll give it that. But nothing made sense. And before you say, “Sure, it didn’t make sense to you. You told Sophocles you had notes on his plays” I conferred with several “young” people I know and none of them could follow it either.

They’re on this planet, they’re on that planet, now in this world, now in London, there’s a massive war scene like in 300 and then Natalie Portman is on a blind date. Soldiers defend themselves against sophisticated space weapons with brass shields. Dinosaur-looking creatures suddenly appear two hours into the movie. I was waiting for Jar Jar Binks to make a cameo. THOR 1 was GODFATHER 1 compared to this.

The only time the movie worked for me was when there were on earth. Kat Dennings stole the film. She had some funny lines and it was just so refreshing to take a respite from “Go forth my liege. The Sanjahorifaniarans from Argomeiggitianal will pay for every drop of blood spilled on Troilogimeelnorgurtifa!” At least she got some yucks. And any time the movie gave a nod to the Marvel world (I won’t spoil the jokes) the gags scored. It was just the other 98% of the time that the movie was the dog's breakfast.

Look, I may not know comic mythology, and I may not be the target audience for an ancient-modern superhero who at times can fly and other times needs to take the subway, but I know a little something about dramatic structure. Stories have to track. The audience needs to know what the stakes are, they need to know where they are (at least which universe and time continuum), and they need to understand the rules. Characters can’t suddenly morph when they want only when it’s convenient for the plot. Characters can’t travel through time and space in two distinct ways.

Actions need to be clearly motivated… even for Batrriconarritifanorkians. We need to know why and the answer needs to make sense. Hiding behind lore is not enough.

But, if none of that bothers you, if it’s not important to know what’s going on as long as the effects are cool and Natalie Portman wears chiffon, if you’re stoned and don’t give a shit anyway, or you just like movies with hammer weapons then THOR 2 is for you. Enjoy. As for me, I hope I didn’t annoy the theatergoers sitting near me too badly by calling out “What the fuck?!” forty-five times.


Hamid said...

Even though I enjoyed THOR 2, your review cracked me up. I get what you're saying, though I must say I found the action scenes far more coherent and comprehensible than a Michael Bay film. And you're right about Kat Dennings and Natlie Portman in chiffon.

The thing that stood out like a sore thumb was the egregious error when the girl on the London underground train says Greenwich is three stops from Charing Cross. Anyone who lives in London knows that's not correct! What's odd is that they filmed it in London with London extras and none of them took a moment to tell the director that the script was wrong!

If you haven't seen Bad Grandpa yet, it's hilarious. I don't know if that kind of comedy is your cup of tea but I loved it.

Mitchell Hundred said...

There were some rather confusing moments, but I feel that the story's strong character dynamics carried it past those flaws. Plus it's advanced magic/science, and I feel like neither of those things have to entirely make sense for a story to work (just enough to make it comprehensible [which it was for me]).

Sequels that are better than the original (off the top of my head): Toy Story 2 and Before Sunset.

Patrick - Atlanta said...

I saw it. I can't say it as eloquently as you, but I was just bored out of my mind.

Anonymous said...

I thought the jokes between Thor and Loki made the film a lot of fun. I enjoyed how the villains of the film were completely washed out, as the film knew the villains were just a device to hang some romance and laughs on.

Aaron Hazouri said...

I liked the first one - but this one I felt was all over the place, and there was WAY too much CG. When everything in your movie is over-the-top, then NONE of it is over the top.

J. Allison said...

"I may not be the target audience for an ancient-modern superhero who at times can fly and other times needs to take the subway..."

This. I get so annoyed by scifi/fantasy films that lack internal logic. I'm more than willing to suspend my disbelief and accept your universe. But your universe has to hang together consistently or else I get distracted and, more importantly, the problems facing the characters stop making sense.

Johnny Walker said...

I have to say that I was disappointed in THOR 2 as well. It seemed to fall down in some really basic storytelling areas. The fact that it had about 10 mins of background exposition, none of which was engaging in the slightest, was a problem for me.

As was not knowing what motivated the bad guys. I mean, aside from a desire to just be plain evil, did they have any reason to do what they were doing?

Also, I never felt that Thor and um, Natalie Portman, had that much chemistry in the first film. I kind of liked how it ended with them just... intrigued with each other.

In THOR 2 they're immediately placed as star-crossed lovers. Hmm.

LOKI was, as usual, the most interesting thing in the entire movie. His motivations and actions are always the most interesting to track -- and despite the above flaws (and many more I can think of -- including setting up too many unanswered questions), I didn't hate the movie.

Ken: I'm not sure why you think a knowledge of comic book mythology would help you appreciate THOR (or THOR 2) any more. The films really set out to start from a blank slate -- requiring very little knowledge of the original character.

Also, nice joke, but (of course) THOR taking the Underground made perfect sense in the internal logic of the movie. Just because you can fly doesn't mean you know how to get there.

Anonymous said...

As a not-really-an-old-man, old man, I have to say that all the Marvel films have annoyed me more then enjoyed me...OK. That doesn't make sense. But you know what I mean. Thor was pretty silly. But when I fell asleep in The Avengers I knew I was in trouble with my comic buying brethren.

Anonymous said...

He can only fly if he's got the hammer. He didn't have the hammer when he took got on the tube.

Pat Reeder said...

If anyone complains that you're too old to appreciate comic books, ask him if he's over the age of 12. If so, tell him that he's too damned old to be reading comic books. And then watch his head explode.

BTW, my random verification code is "Ilyzerom 3." I'll bet that's how they named the planets in "Thor 2."

Mike M said...

Re the Subway: Thor can't fly. His hammer can fly. He just holds on for the ride. No hammer, no flying.
The hammer had gone through one of those interdimensional vortexes, so it was not available to him.

Eddie Hargreaves said...

Everytime I saw Kat Dennings in the movie, I thought "Someone must find this funny." Now I know who that person was.

Hamid said...

And me, Eddie. Kat rocks. As does her amazing cleavage, though unfortunately it wasn't on show in THOR 2.

Scooter Schechtman said...

Comic Book Store Guy, where are you in our hour of need?!?

Dale said...

Yet another comic book film. I read a comic when I was 8. The best thing in it was the ad for the toy soldiers on the back cover.

I out grew comics 41 years ago Hollywood. I had not been to the cinema to see a Hollywood film in years until the last Star Trek. And the story was about Khan????

Needless to say I have no plan to see another Hollywood film any time soon.

I want good original stories. Characters. Intelligent dialogue. Maturity.

Endless explosions and CGI simply is not enough. As a result my $$$ stay in my pocket.

I suppose I am in the minority.

Happily the French keep making fine cinema. And I am not even a snob. All I want is a good story.

Rob in Toronto said...

Continuing on the hammer controversy -and not that I am an expert -but can the hammer actually fly ? From my younger days I seem to remember that Thor swings and throws his mighty hammer and the sheer weight of it pulls him along after it.

Don B said...

I have been reading comics for close to 40 years and am a big fan of the Marvel CU, but your review nails it! Saw it last Thursday - pure crap!

Greg Ehrbar said...

I liked the scene in which some of the characters were sitting at a breakfast table, waiting for Thor to stop by (you know how that can be!) and there was a package of those tasty McVittie's Digestive biscuits on the table.

My, they're tasty and they dunk so well. I guess they help with digestion, too, hence the name.

The rest of the movie was nice, too. Bought some Digestives the next day.

Creative Fiction said...

The definitive interpretation for this series of movies. The author is a scholar of Machiavelli, and it shows.

Pizzagod said...

They start out with a few good comic book movies (Batman, Superman, Spider-Man) and then just like major league expansion, things get worse and worse and worse.

I don't doubt this Thor movie was as bad as the first one. After all, in the comics world, Thor is a secondary character. Same results in the DC comics world when you see movies like Green Lantern (resounding thud as this flop hit the dirt). If there was still a Blockbuster this would be headed for the $1 bin.

So you've done a public service, unfortunately the people who would benefit the most from reading this probably can't read. Oh a great man once said Excelsior!

Anonymous said...

You had to headline this IF I HAD A HAMMER.


You asked for it.

Storm said...

I've done comic book and sci-fi conventions for over 30 years (including 26 Comic Cons), got married dressed as a Klingon, and changed my first name to that of my favourite comic book character when I was 15... and I can NOT be bothered with ANY of these super hero movies; I think the last one I saw (in the theatre; I may have caught others on cable and forgotten them) was "X-Men 2", and I only saw it because of Alan Cumming playing Nightcrawler (Halle Berry as Storm... grrr! It should've been IMAN!). Each one is just worse and cheesier than the last, be they Marvel OR DC Universes; why does Hollywood insist on taking a comic book character/story that is known and loved enough to justify spending a fortune making a movie of it, and decide that they know better than the people who made those characters famous/beloved what they want to see in a super hero movie? They just cherry-pick aspects and plotlines, make some shit up with them, and slap a familiar title on it. Then the people who know and love the characters are pissed, and the ones who don't know them are bored and confused. LOGIC!

I keep meaning to see "The Avengers" now that it's on cable, but DAMN, 2 hours 23 minutes?! I hear it's supposed to be awesome, and I love Joss Whedon, but not nearly THAT much. Contrary to popular belief, I have a life to lead.

Cheers, thanks a lot,


cadavra said...

Ken, given how much you loathe 2 BROKE GIRLS, I was surprised and pleased you gave Kat Dennings a thumbs-up. (Cue Max's dirty retort.)

WizarDru said...

I'm sure there are fanboys who'd be annoyed at your review, but so what? I enjoyed the movie and have been a comics reader for nearly 40 years, but that doesn't mean I think the film was above criticism or didn't have narrative problems.

Someone needs to tell Dale that there is more to American movies than Micheal Bay. If you think that there are no movies being made by Hollywood that have "...good original stories. Characters. Intelligent dialogue. Maturity." Then either you're intentionally ignoring a lot of movies, need to get out more or define 'hollywood movies' as different than the rest of us. It's your preference, of course, but I'd argue that movies like Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Trouble with the Curve, Brides Maids or The Fighter (to name just a few) have all those things.

Unknown said...

can you please also give a review for catching fire? its a very nice movie!


Anonymous said...

people who want to hate on movies need to pay more attention. 1 the dinosaur thing is from thor 1 when they fight the ice giants at the start of the movie, 2 thor takes the subway because he cant fly since he uses his hammer which can fly to drag him through the air and at the time his hammer was portal jumping through space to get to him, 3 if you watch any movie looking for faults youll find them just sit back and try to enjoy something it sounds like you went into the movie looking to be disappointed and imagine that you were