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Thor Mixes Myth and Beefcake
by Scott Nehring, Contributing Writer

Thor Poster3 starsTo show an accurate depiction of the god THOR from Norse mythology he would have red hair, he'd eat the goats who pull his chariot on a daily basis (only to resurrect them to masticate on their freshly slaughtered flesh the following day) and may have a swastika on his famous hammer.  Apparently, someone in Hollywood thought that a meat-eating, Irish-looking god lugging around hardware with a Nazi symbol on it wouldn't go over well with today's audiences.

THOR Bridges Modern and Ancient
This movie has little to nothing to do with the actual mythology, but rather it is an adaptation of the rather silly comic book series Thor that started back in the 1960's.  In truth, the comic book hero Thor was the real deal.  Comic book heroes such as Superman, X-Men and others are actually replications of the pantheons of old.  Where the Greeks had Apollo, Athena and Hermes we have Green Arrow, Wonder Woman and The Flash.  Creating a superhero that bridged the modern and ancient lists of gods was Stan Lee simply being honest.

As you may know, there is an AVENGERS movie in the works.  The Avengers are a collection of heroes from the Marvel Superhero Universe which includes IRON MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, Nick Fury, The Incredible Hulk, Hawkeye, Natasha Romanoff and yes, THOR.  This film was made to support that upcoming larger production.  There isn't anything wrong with this except it this film feels like it was put together purely for that purpose.

Synopsis
The story of the film is rather straightforward. THOR (Chris Hemsworth), about to ascend to the throne of Asgard, is tricked by his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to defy their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins).  For his betrayal, Thor is exiled down to Earth to live as a mortal man.  Odin, fearing the machinations of his manipulative son Loki, sends down Thor's hammer Mjöllnir affixed with a command that only the man worthy of the throne of Asgard can lift it.  Thor must learn wisdom and sacrifice before he can return to his rightful place.

ThorWhile on Earth, Thor meets scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and their wholly useless, apparently high-function mentally disabled, assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings).  Against all logic and self-preservation Foster believes Thor when he states he's a god who has fallen to Earth.  Over the course of the next two days the two fall in love...because if you're a Norse god and you come to Earth you really want to hook up with a pretty scientist with zero personality or screen presence.

Thor's Asgardian friends eventually find their way down to Earth as does a big metal beast called The Destroyer who is bent on, well, destroying.  Things pretty much roll out as you would expect from that point forward.

Ancient Vs. Modern Best Moments
Hemsworth is a natural for this role and handles the performance with a certain charm that detracts from his lack of depth.  Thor is a brute and his direct and belligerent style is fun to watch while he adjusts to life with mortal men.  He doesn't stop thinking and acting like a Norse god despite being stuck in a lowly diner.  The contrast of his ancient mindset against the modern mores and laws provide some of the best moments in the film.  These moments, however, are few and far between.

The film also holds interest while in the fantastic world of Asgard.  Director Kenneth Branagh, known almost entirely for his Shakespearean productions, has fun with the more theatrical elements of this other world.  The sets, costumes, mannerisms and language of this alternative universe are executed with great detail.  The world is a visual treat and fully developed.  The problem for Branagh is that the film doesn't all take place in Asgard.  Much of it takes place in a barren town in New Mexico.  Branagh may have been trying to play with the visual contrast of the grand Asgard versus the empty town, but this comparison doesn't work.  He ends making Earth look boring and plain.  When Thor and his friends are decked out in their Asgard garb they look ridiculous and desperately out of place.  This would have been avoided had the terrestrial location been more stylized.

Earth Looks Boring
The other issue are the scenes in Asgard deal with broad subjects like royalty, betrayal and war.  The Earthbound narrative is a stupid love story between Thor and Foster (again, played by Natalie Portman who, thanks to her undeserved Best Actress Oscar, is perhaps the most overrated actress in human history).  The budding relationship between the two is illogical, forced and often just plain boring.  No one pays money for a movie about Thor to see him batting his eyes and twisting his toe in the dirt over some dopey chick.  You pay to see him hit bad guys with a hammer and shoot lightening.

I shouldn't complain.  As I mentioned, this isn't a film based in the myths.  It is a film based on the watered down version of these myths.  My favorite break from the historical tales is the casting of Heimdallr.  In the original myths he was a god who protected the rainbow bridge Bifröst (which he does in this film).  The bridge stops off at his house, Himinbjörg, where Heimdallr drinks and hangs out with his powerful horn.  Heimdallr is known and Heimdallr in Thorhas been known for quite some time now as "the whitest of the gods".  This is how he is presented in this film:

Politically Correct Casting Offends Everyone
Yes, we have one of those well-known Norse-Africans common to the area during that time.  What is funny, at least to me, about politically correct casting such as this is that it is actually a little offensive to everyone involved.  First, heaven forbid a large movie be made with just white people - even when it makes complete logical sense.  These dopes cast the only black man in the film in a role where is a hapless servant.  He's Odin's doorman.  Why not just have him serving coffee and cleaning up after everyone?  Sheesh.

Should you see the film?  If you have a young boy in your life, you probably don't have much of a choice.  The film is made for kids and for the most part keeps the content tame enough for most audiences.  There's a scene of drunkenness and a couple of violent acts, but nothing you don't see is the average television commercial these days.  

Empty Myths
For Christians the presentation of modernized myths provides a great opportunity to discuss the myths and how they differ from our faith.  Personally, I talked to my sons about how these myths came out of pre-Christian Germanic regions and their presence shows man's natural desire for God.  Not knowing the person of Christ, the ancients mocked-up versions of Him to fill the hole in their hearts and souls.  Now that our culture has likewise turned from God we find the need to revive these false images of the Lord to take His place.  Given how empty this film is, Christians may be the only ones who can have intelligent conversations after a viewing.

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