If I could meet Joseph Campbell I would punch him in the face. Or just make him watch Thor
.Pictured: Joseph Campbell's Gaydream
The mythical motif of a sacrificial hero has always saturated Western culture, but it wasnít until 1949 when Campbell published The Hero With a Thousand Faces
that these structural guidelines became widely known and clearly defined, and since then writers in all mediums have been looking to his work for inspiration. The problem is that Campbellís deconstruction of myth was intended to shed light on trends that already existed, not to teach writers how to write.
The result (in regard to film): a slew of pseudo-mythical tripe that thinks placing a Christ Figure amidst shiny special effects is what makes a good story. Iím looking at you, Tron: Legacy
2 & 3, Star Wars
prequels, and now, Thor
isnít so much a story as it is a skeleton of a story, a bare framework slapped together using pieces of other, better, stories. The screenwriters basically cut out parts of Beauty and the Beast and pasted them together with The Gospel. And because just having a hero sacrifice his own life to save the world world wasnít painfully obvious enough, the screenwriters chose to have the protagonistís FATHER WHO IS ALSO A GOD
use his powers to restore Thor to life and Kenneth Branagh, genius director that he isnít, decided to cut to close ups of the comatose Odin crying
in order to convey this magical sacrifice. My writers, why have you forsaken me?
Throw in a lame B-story filled with a ragtag team of Tolkien rip-offs and youíve got the makings of a generic summer blockbuster.
Now, a lot of this could be forgiven, considering the Norse mythology as inspiration. But when working with time-worn tropes itís important to make them interesting by dressing them up in cool packaging. Unfortunately, the producers of Thor
chose to dress up their dull story with jaw-droppingly awful costumes:The world's angriest bunny.
and lazy production design brought ingloriously to life via some of the worst visual effects ever seen in a 150 million dollar budget film:That's right, Norse gods live in a giant version of Pan's flute ... I think every lit crit major just had a collective joygasm.
When itís all said in done, the best thing one can say about Thor
is that itís ďentertaining.Ē But the sad thing is that our definition of entertainment gets thinner with each new lazy blockbuster. Out of the entire 120 minutes of Thor
thereís only one moment of unique action, a scene where Thor uses his hammer to blast through the head of a giant monster. While the rest of the movie does boast plenty of action, itís mostly action that weíve seen before. The cheap-looking sets, glossy armour, and prancing fight choreography feel like a non-slo-motion version of 300
and the final battle, with its Gort-rip-off of a villain, feels like a low rent Ď50s sci-fi. Thereís nothing creative here, everything is stolen from other films.
, Branagh finally proves without a shadow of a doubt that heís incapable of telling a visual story. The ridiculous overuse of dutch angles is reminiscent of Battlefield Earth
and the tediously wide master shots of painfully theatrical fight choreography are laughable. The entire film is an absolute mess of half-assery and tedious dialog. While Marvel jump-started their crossover franchises so well with Iron Man
and The Incredible Hulk
, their current downward spiral of slapdash fanboy fodder does not bode well for Joss Whedon, who has the thankless job of steering this runaway stagecoach from the approaching drop into Geek Canyon. On the bright side, unless Captain America: The First Avenger
is 900% better than its title, in 2012 The Avengers
wonít have a very long way to fall.