14th Apr2012

‘Thor: Hammer of the Gods’ Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Zachery Ty Bryan, Mac Brandt, Daz Crawford, Alexis Peters | Written by Steve Bevilacqua, Rafael Jordan | Directed by Todor Chapkanov

Vikings always seem to interest film makers, we’ve had the classic Kirk Douglas movie, we’ve even had the comic Erik the Viking, and we’ve had the 3D “spectacle” that was Beowulf. Now that we have moved into super hero territory with the most recent Thor film we’ll also get the smaller lower budget versions that don’t try to make Thor an alien but the God that he was in the original legends.

In Thor: Hammer of the Gods Thor is in fact a human character who along with a small group of other Vikings including his brothers invades an island looking for riches. All they find though is a group of people who are being terrorised by creatures that could be best described as men with heads of wolves. We’d probably call them werewolves but it’s hard to call them that based on the really strange CGI effects that were used to create these creatures. Thor starts having visions of a Viking hero holding up a mighty hammer, believing this to be his brother the leader of the group he fights to help him find his destiny. The question is though is this actually Thor’s destiny himself and what are the meanings of the visions he is having.

My first thought with Thor: Hammer of the Gods is that the story itself is not a bad idea. It uses real Viking legends to create a story that actually catches the watchers interest. Its main failure though of course with many of these films is the over-reliance on CGI. Take the wolf creatures as an example; the close up shots are CGI so that we can see the wolves snarling and showing their fans but when you get wider shots of them I can’t tell quite honestly if it’s not just a weird mask on the actors heads instead of CGI. The problem with that of course is the wolves themselves look comical as they try to run around with big bulky wolf heads either added on in post-production or are prosthetic makeup worn during filming. It’s a shame that the effect does not work really as you spend more time noticing the weird way the actors are moving rather than enjoying the film itself. If they could have managed the same effects as in Dog Soldiers for example that would have been a lot more effective.

When reviewing these types of straight to DVD films I do know that I highlight the problem of CGI a lot, but with this film it is important to note how much it holds it back. But for a few of the actors I found this film to be fairly well acted and quite enjoyable. The story itself was strong enough to keep my interest and I did find it interesting to see how they would end it. Other CGI elements were actually delivered in a more tolerable nature so it’s really a shame that the film is let down with the bad wolf design.

If you can look past the comical wolf creatures I would say to give this film a try; just don’t expect much, as with many films of this type it’s quite a throwaway experience – hey, at least it kills a few hours. Of course the timing of the release is probably to cash in on the name of Thor and his popularity in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble which is soon to be released… But if you want to see a Thor film that is more based on the actual legends rather than superhero escapism, then Thor: Hammer of the Gods maybe something that will interest you.

Thor: Hammer of the Gods is released on DVD, courtesy of Koch Media on Monday April 16th.

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