Thor: The Most Businesslike Marvel Product Yet

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No, Thor didn't make New York Times reviewer A.O. Scott simply want to die. But it did cross his mind. He begins his review by saying, "As I stumbled out of the Imax multiplex all-media advance screening of Thor, depositing my 3-D glasses in the appropriate bin, I thought of seeking shelter: in a nearby bar; under a passing bus; in the velvet shadows of an art house playing the longest, slowest, most obscure movie imaginable." His foul mood appears to have less to do with the movie's quality and more with being a mere participant in a product launch. Thor's greatest importance is as a strand in a line of movies based on Avengers comics characters. One day, Hulk, Iron Man and Thor are destined to combine forces onscreen.

In anticipation of the product's release, top critics aren't hating Thor. There's not much to hate. Scanning down the Metacritic list or the Rotten Tomatoes blurbs, there's decent reviews, but critics are by now resigned to the installment-driven fate dictated by the film's acceptableness: "It's very competence is dispiriting—it gets the job done, I guess, but what job?" as Slate's Dana Stevens mused existentially.

Since critics had to deal with the very competence of the product, they found creative ways to couch their faint praise with tell-tale caveats of a bland film:

  • "Thor shows the Marvel movie formula — amp up the laughs, deploy stars smartly, protect the franchise at all costs — at its most obvious and efficient. It gives mediocre a good name." - Boston Globe
  • "The thing is, though, that the kind-of-O.K. aspects of Thor have the effect of making it more depressing, rather than less. The movie cannot be an interesting, appalling train wreck because it lacks the spoiled grandeur of ambition gone off the rails." - New York Times
  • "The ripping outer-space fights are the main attraction, and they’re mostly entertaining, though not in a way that will make you feel good about yourself." - New York Post
  • "I like Thor, for example. This is remarkable, considering the lameness of the first 25 minutes of director Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of the Marvel character introduced in 1962." - Chicago Tribune
  • "It'll probably work, or work well enough, despite the fact that Branagh can't direct an action sequence to save his Shakespearean-swordfightin' life and the fact that he begins with a great, gray, greasy lump of expository back story." - Salon


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