Friday, January 11, 2013

Mockbusted #9: Almighty Thor

As I watch these movies, I can't help but think of the people who actually are genuinely fooled into mistaking straight to DVD knock offs of popular films for the real thing. I want to believe that it doesn't actually happen, and that at most if people aren't seeking these movies out deliberately for the cheese, or like me for the occasional insane awesomeness, that they recognize them as cheap alternatives to a night out at the theater. To think that someone might have actually seen advertisements for Marvel's Thor movie, accidentally picked up The Asylum's Almighty Thor, and got Richard Grieco instead of Chris Hemsworth, makes the whole concept of mockbusting worthwhile, regardless of whether any particular mockbuster is actually good. Almighty Thor is not very good, even by the low standards I apply to these kinds of movies, but more so than some of the others, I can't help but appreciate the slap dash impulse that created it.

Thor isn't my favorite movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, mostly due to the fact that he was never really my favorite character in the comics. While I enjoy mythology stories in general, in a superhero context, I always thought the travails of Gods and Goddesses were a little too grand in scope for my tastes. Still, its not a bad movie, just a little too inaccessible, though I very much enjoyed the visual style, especially in the scenes set in Valhalla and the non-Earth realms. Once it gets to Earth, I felt it dragged quite a bit, which from what I gather is a common complaint. Almighty Thor has the opposite issue, never quite being able to realize the grandeur of a magical world, but getting (slightly) better when the action shifts to a mundane urban environment. Its too bad there isn't enough here overall to count this among the company's better efforts.

Most people know this as the movie where Thor fires an uzi, which shows up in the trailer and amounts to maybe a minute at most of screen time. Outside of the two scenes in question, this Thor is as hammer happy as the mainstream one, and to this film's credit, they actually make his signature weapon a factor of the plot more so than in the Marvel film, even if they never use its proper name. The story follows the Viking demigod on the run from the Trickster god Loki, who seeks the hammer because it is the only thing that can destroy the Tree of Life and initiate Ragnarock. I appreciated the elements taken from Norse legend, including the aforementioned apocalypse and the Norns, Viking equivalents to the Greek Fates, but its not enough to save what is otherwise a lack luster exercise in poorly plotted, badly edited, and worst of all boring nonsense.

The acting is terrible even by Asylum standards. When Richard Grieco is the best of the bunch, its really saying something, and nothing good. I don't normally comment on acting quality in movies, because to me its usually not a big deal even when its bad, but here, its distractingly so, and takes me out of the movie before I even have a chance to get into it. Grieco's Loki is a little more dour and bad ass than Hiddleson's take, with a pale vampiric pallor and an arsenal of tricks and monstrous henchmen that puts his Marvel equivalent to shame. And yet, his role in the movie quickly devolves into walking around various landscapes looking resolute and screaming in frustration. Its clear the writers had very little in the way of a story, and so they stretch out the cat and mouse game between Thor and Loki long past the point where it could have been interesting. Thor himself is incredibly wooden, and instantly looses credibility as a character when he is set up not as an accomplished warrior in need of humility, but rather as an inexperienced child in need of guidance.

The biggest problem with Almighty Thor is just how meandering it is throughout. I lost count of how many scenes of Loki walking with a grim look on his face were repeated or reversed to pad out what is essentially a story with one plot beat. The climactic battle takes this to a ridiculous extreme, repeating young Thor's initial charge at his enemy at least three or four times. providing a nice little closing metaphor for how little progress was made through the experience of watching this. Also, I know the scene is repeated because the actor playing Thor keeps unintentionally cracking a smile just before the shot cuts away, as if to say he knows how stupid and awful this movie is too. The thing is, knowing you're in a bad movie is only the first step to making it good. You have to embrace the low expectations and experiment in an environment free of the stricter oversight that comes with a higher budget, not just use it as an excuse not to give a shit. Most of the people involved with this movie have apparently chosen the latter option, and as always, it is truly disappointing.

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