Friday, May 27, 2011

Kenneth Branagh's THOR: Thilly, Thexy, Thtupid -- but mostly mediocre

TM plops his tush into a rare, paid-for theater seat to see a current main-stream movie in 3D. Then wishes he hadn't. What a bore is THOR. If you haven't yet plunked down your hard-earned moolah for this one -- save it, please! Or opt for the cheaper 2D version, which is by all accounts brighter and vision-friendlier. If Holly-wood can't do better than this darker-than-need-be (and I am not talking about the content, simply the dark and slightly grubby-looking visual aspect) and almost completely un-thought-out use of its would-be three dimensions, then 3D will simply disappear again, just as it did a few years after its debut in the 1950s.

Audiences, being dumber these days, will take more time to figure out the con, so the decline may take a bit longer. In the old days, there was no extra charge for 3-D; now, bilking us of $5 more (and giving us less), the movie industry seems bent on reaping profits at any cost. On one level, I am happy for director Kenneth Branagh (shown at right, and a man whose work I have long admired) that this movie did not flop. And it certainly is not a disaster on any level. But it is so mediocre on almost all of them. The sense of the secondhand that fairly oozes from the tiresome sets and costumes, the special effects, the "plot" (such as it is) is almost constant. Only the performances (except for one) rise a bit above this, for actors usually give it their best shot.

That one lacking performance belongs to Chris Hemsworth in the title role. Clearly chosen for things (above) other than his acting ability, Hemsworth manages not to embarrass himself, and even has one very nice interaction with a coffee mug during the course of the film. But mostly he just grins or tries to look stern. Get real, Hollywood: When someone has a body this incredible, why cover it up for the entire movie? With the exception of maybe fifteen seconds of screen time when he 's shown with his shirt off, he is clothed in costumes that, in the earth sections, look tatty and in Valhalla look silly.

Natalie Portman is fine, as usual, while Stellan Skarsgård (above, left) and Kat Dennings (above, right) do just fine with very little; ditto Anthony Hopkins. But why cast someone like Rene Russo then give her absolutely nothing to do. (Seeing Ms Russo make a fool of herself on Jay Leno a couple of weeks back was embarrassing to watch.) The find of the film may be Tom Hiddleston (below) as Thor's half-bro Loki. Hiddleston's got presence and fire but the role (in fact, the whole movie) could have used a wittier sense of humor. Wasn't Loki, naughty as he was, always known for that?

Thor (at 115 minutes, way too long) is still playing around most towns. As I say, you won't lose anything by seeing it in 2-D -- or probably even better, wait for the Blu-ray.

No comments: