Thor: Hammer of the Gods Review

With Marvel’s The Avengers film soon to hit the big screen, one is left with high expectations of any film with “Thor” in the title. However, Thor: Hammer of the Gods was not only just a good film, but when accounting for it being a Syfy low budget TV film, it’s absolutely fantastic.

The premise is simple and yet a new way of telling an age old Nordic story. Thor and his two older brothers Baldur and Ulfrich set sail to a promised land with a band of warriors, in search of glory and riches to find a new home for their people. Upon landing at the shore it is only moments before werewolf shaped creatures attack them. Picking at the band of warriors one by one it is not long before the party is forced to make camp and stand their ground. Sacrifices are made so that those who remain can follow Thor’s newfound visions in search of the mystic hammer Mjolnir. As brothers turn against each other and allegiances change, Thor must stop not only the dreaded demon folk, but also the monster that gave birth to their powers.

Okay, so the more I reflect on it, the more I think it wasn’t that good. But I still feel that for the usual low budgeted, poorly computer generated images that you find with nearly all Syfy movies, this one was one of the best. If you can’t appreciate what the screenwriters were trying to achieve, you can always find comic value in the rather amusing performances of the actors.

Not everyone suits their role; Daz Crawford, who plays Ulfrich, is not suited as a Viking for example. A Greek warrior, or Syrian swordsman, even a Native American hunter, all are roles in which this towering hardened character of a man would clearly take a leading role. But with the lack of fair hair and blue eyes that one expects from any Viking, his accent feels as though it didn’t exactly match the two other brothers. Though I’m sure I can now create a joke for “the Englishman, American and poorly acted Shakespearian Nord.”

The casting for the lead role of Thor himself fell to Zachery Ty Bryan, the eldest son of the popular show Home Improvement. He perhaps seemed the least ‘Thor like’ character on the set, from his stubbly beard to his finely groomed mohawk. Little seemed befitting of the character and the costume work done for a lead role.

As befitting of any Syfy film, the CGI is not of the highest quality and the werewolves were in desperate need of prosthetic masks. The faces were poorly melded to the actors movements and clearly not the greatest piece of computer engineering. Unfortunately one scene of an attack at night, I will avoid going into spoilers, was left to some horrific CG work, when even Halloween masks would have suited and looked better for the fast pace action which was happening on screen.

The film does redeem itself however with the use of CGI in other scenes in exactly the right manner. From open sea shots to a smaller ‘front of boat’ set, and the opening animated start to the film. Even with each strike of Thor’s hammer causing a short sharp flash, just enough to help reiterate the actions already happening on screen and to compliment some few well planed camera angles.

Overall however, when you look past the poor Viking shouts, as though everyone took their lines from Frank Miller’s 300, the actual composition of the film comes together nicely. From the subtle use of CGI at the start of the film to help meld scenes of open expanse to smaller sets, to the poorly choreographed yet somewhat energetic sword fights, Thor: Hammer of the Gods is a film I will happily watch again. Because I will either enjoy it with my friends to laugh at or I will watch it and have an urge to play The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. Either way it’s not the worst thing that has come from the Syfy channel.

Thor Hammer of the Gods is now available on DVD at most retail outlets and online.

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