December 11, 2010

Thor, Hammer of the Gods

Longhouse Improvement Season 3, Episode 11

15-year-old Thor (Zachary Ty Bryan) wants to impress a shieldmaiden who won't give him the time of day. He enlists the help of younger brothers Loki (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) and Baldur (Taran Noah Smith) in forging a larger hammer with more bling. But parents Odin (Tim Allen) and Freya (Patricia Richardson) disapprove of Thor's love interest. Can the boys forge the hammer without the parents finding out, or burning the longhouse to the ground? 
Sadly, the real Thor, Hammer of the Gods is not nearly as interesting as the fake synopsis above. The movie's major claim to fame consists of featuring the baby-faced Zachary Ty Bryan in the title role. Yes, seriously, Brad from "Home Improvement" plays Thor.

The Real Plot Summary

Baldur and Thor (mortal men, not the gods) lead their band to a mysterious land at the ends of the earth. The two brothers claim the land as their new kingdom, but it quickly becomes clear that something is very wrong. Wolfmen start hunting the Vikings. At the same time, Thor begins to see cheesy CGI visions of his namesake. Thor discovers that Loki is behind the nefarious happenings, and that only by finding the Hammer of the Gods (HOG) can he defeat Loki.

Nutrition Facts

Vitamin B-Acting: 70%

Zachary Ty Bryan's Thor comes off as a Southern California dude who got very lost while paddling on his surfboard. The baby face doesn't exactly lend credence to Thor's toughness, either.

The Vikings were known for their liberal use of hair gel, too.

Most of the B-acting credit has to go to Daz Crawford, who plays Ulfrich, the movie's baddie. He's the kind of villain you identify instantly, due to the following characteristics:

1) He has a huge scar, and it's not a "cosmetic cute" scar.
2) He's bald. In an evil way.
3) He always scowls and sneers and never smiles, unless it's an evil smile. 

Crawford easily shows the most life in an otherwise listless cast. I almost wanted to root for him because the others were so deathly boring.

Vitamin B-SFX: 70%

The opening credits are set against drawings of Thor and other Norse-ish scenes. You can judge the art quality for yourself here:

The Thor vision scenes contain painfully obvious CGI, often to hilarious effect. If you ever watch this movie for some nutty reason, look out for the sea beast scene. That's the best example of cheesy CGI.

The camera never lingers long on the wolfmen, for an obvious reason--to hide the fakeness of the costumes. The wolfmen basically consist of regular guys wearing wolf heads.

By contrast, we get a good chunk of time to admire the Fenris wolf (Loki in disguise). This allows us to see the obvious puppetry, and how badly synchronized its speech and mouth movements are.

Vitamin Fun: 20%

This is a boring, boring movie. At least 75% of the "action" onscreen consists of marching, waiting for an attack, or introspective moments.

Sugar: 5%

Ulfrich's girlfriend really loves Zach--I mean, Thor. I actually felt kind of sorry for Ulfrich at this point. His gal leaves him for Brad from Home Improvement. How sad is that?

Plot Fiber: 40%

The basic plot is fine by mythology standards, though the pacing severely cripples the story. But the casting of Zachary Ty Bryan as Thor is what really destroyed whatever credibility this movie had.

"I have a big, shiny hammer..."

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