I went and saw Thor last night. Expectations were high. This was Marvel, after all–and they’ve been doing a great job in my book recently, between Iron Man and their Incredible Hulk redo. Add to that the fact that Rottentomatoes gave it a 78% fresh rating, and it seemed like a lock. Sure, I’d heard some negative vibes about the film ahead of time, but you hear those about anything. If 78% of critics liked it, it couldn’t be that bad, could it?
Well, it’s not that bad. It’s just not that good, either. The biggest problem with the movie is that the effects come first, and the characters come . . . fifteenth or so. Honestly. The characterization in this movie is so bad, it makes made-for-tv sitcom writing glow by comparison. Thor is a total jerk. We are never presented with a reason to like the man/god. He’s a jerk when he’s 7, and he’s still a jerk when he’s 27. He gets banished to earth, where he does some more jerky things.
Then, he has his Big Moment. His moment when he realizes what a jerk he is. And that supposedly changes him. Makes him a Better Man.
The thing is, this Big Moment isn’t big enough. Not to justify the change the audience is supposed to have in opinion about the hero. So much of a successful climax is prep work. You have to lay the foundation for a Big Moment, starting from the beginning. Step One is to make your character somehow likable or believable or at least understandable to the audience. Iron Man did a great job with this. Tony Stark at the beginning of Iron Man I is a total jerk. But he’s a really smart total jerk, confident and capable. We don’t like him, but we at least realize why other people do.
Why do people like Thor? He’s got buddies who supposedly would follow him to hell and back. Why? Because he has a magic hammer? People who base their friendships on magical artifacts aren’t the sort of people I relate to.
When Tony Stark has his Big Moment, it’s sufficiently big. He gets kidnapped–becomes a victim of his own technology. He sees first hand the effects it has on people, and that changes him. That makes sense.
Thor has to slum it with humans for about 24 hours. Oh noes!
I could go on. Thor and Natalie Portman supposedly have a Love for the Ages in this film–or at least that’s what it seems like we’re supposed to believe. What is this love based on? A late night conversation on top of a building.
That’s epic. I can totally understand how one chit chat can change their lives completely. That’s why I’m so careful about who I chat with when I’m on top of buildings. You don’t want to say the wrong thing and then Wham!, you’re in a lifelong committed relationship. Blech.
Anyway. Is Thor awful? No. Stuff blows up. People punch things. And it’s shiny while it happens. That gets it 2 stars. But is it good? Not really. It’s okay.
And that’s where this post has been leading me. According to Rottentomatoes, 78% of critics recommend this movie. After I saw it, I started digging some more. For a critic to “like” a movie, they have to give it 2.5 stars out of four–sometimes as low as 2 out of 4. A movie could get a 100% fresh rating if 100% of critics gave it 2.5 stars.
That’s not a great movie, folks. That’s a decidedly average film. One I probably don’t want to waste money on.
I’ve decided that the whole premise of Rottentomatoes is flawed. You can’t boil down a review to a “yes/no” recommendation. That’s why we have four stars, not just two to choose from. So from now on, I’m not using Rottentomatoes. You hear that, Rotten? You’re Rotten. I’d rather use a service like Metacritic, which gives an average of the actual reviews. According to it, Thor got a 58. That’s much more accurate. I’ll try Metacritic for a while and see what it does for me.
How about you–what do you use to decide which movie to see?