Walking out of the theater, I heard an old lady say to her husband, “they relied on the computers too much.” She was dead on. This movie had no soul, which is odd considering its a movie about a god. The friend I saw it with said that it was an origin story, so it would lack action. Well, even origin stories need action. My friend is a comic book geek. He’s got like hundreds of Avengers comics. He was entertained. I wasn’t. The movie had its moments, but “meh.”
Since I’ve been studying scriptwriting and storytelling, I pondered for a while after the film trying to figure out why it didn’t work. Here’s why:
The film took too long to get to the real conflict of the story; an arrogant god who has to learn the lesson of humility. I came up with two or three different ways to make the movie better than it was. There were actions in the movie, but none of them really moved the plot of the story along in a manner that worked.
The movie took too long to get to the action that mattered about Thor as a character. We can break scripts down to three acts; the first is the set-up, the second are the obstacles, and the third is the resolution. It seemed like the first act took forever until we finally got to act two, which was brief, and then we jumped into the third act. The ending lost any emotional impact as a result. (It could have been a good ending if the first two acts were structured better.) Each act supports the act that follows. The first act failed to me because it seemed like the director wanted to show everything possible to the audience about the world of Asgard. We got to see the gods, and meet Thor’s Asgardian pals. All that must have been great for the true Thor enthusiast or hardcore Marvel Comics fan, but it didn’t resonate with me, and it delayed the story. Save Thor’s pals for the sequel.
Thor’s flaws were similar to the flaws in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Both showed way too much setting and not enough story. Sprinkle in some action to keep people from falling asleep in the theaters. (I thought Phantom Menace was better than Thor.) In some ways Thor was like listening to one of those really long jokes that has a bad punchline. At least in Phantom Menace there was a cool lightsaber duel at the end. Thor’s ending lacked emotional resonance, but the acting in Thor was better than in the Phantom Menace. (Each film stars Natalie Portman.)
I did sit through the credits and watched the Avengers teaser at the end. The teaser was the best part of the movie. (Again, sad.) After seeing this, I’m not so sure about watching Captain America. What works in comics doesn’t always work in movies. I’ve read that movies are getting weaker on story and heavier on special effects and CGI because of international distribution. Less dialogue means movies become easier to package in non-English speaking countries. That’s great for a marketing and profit making perspective but sucky for a film going experience.
The movie had a few fun moments, but overall it was like the script was written by a first year writing student. I would tell people to wait for the DVD on a boring winter night when you have nothing better to do. Sadly, I’d recommend the movie only to the most die-hard Thor fans.
I’d give it 4 out of 10 warhammers.