SyFy’s ‘Almighty Thor’ Certainly Is a Movie About Hammers [Review]
As you may have heard, the movie based on Marvel's Thor was released recently. I think we may have mentioned it once or twice here on ComicsAlliance. Either way,as sure as the thunder follows the lightning, a big budget blockbuster is followed by its low-rent knockoff from the Asylum.
For those of you who aren't aware, the Asylum is a film studio that basically has two strategies for success: utterly shameless "mockbusters" meant to capitalize on the success of mainstream movies like The Da Vinci Treasure or Paranormal Entity, or made-for-SyFy originals starring increasingly improbable monsters who fight each other, like Mega Python vs. Gatoroid. Now, they have managed to bring those two ideas together with Almighty Thor, which aired on SyFy the day after Marvel's Thor hit theaters. And guys? It's the funniest movie of the year.I'll admit that I have something of a love/hate relationship with the Asylum. On the one hand, I love that a company so unapologetically shady and devoted to a business model that hinges on confusing people into thinking they're buying something else. On the other hand, I generally hate it when my job requires me to actually sit down and watch one of their movies, which happens surprisingly often. Almighty Thor, however, was almost as good as their version of Sherlock Holmes, and that was a movie where the title character used a helicopter-blimp-mounted machine gun to fight a mechanical dragon.
Filmed over the course of a weekend with a budget of over twelve dollars, Almighty Thor is not what you'd ever refer to without a significant blow to the head as "good," but it is highly entertaining. And it's not just the story, either, although that is truly ridiculous. This thing was cracking me up from the moment I found out who was in it. For starters, we have our villain, Loki, as played by the star of the 1991 class trip/spy thriller farce, If Looks Could Kill, Mr. Richard Grieco.
Grieco is absolutely amazing to watch in this movie, because I have never seen an actor who just straight could not care less about what he was doing. Seriously, this dude doesn't just phone it in, he calls collect. If you're an actor and you need to prepare for a role where you're playing an actor who is purely just sleepwalking his way to a check, this is the footage you should watch.
The actor who really got me excited, though, was on the side of the good guys: six-time World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion and genuinely terrible comic book creator Kevin Nash as Odin.
I'm not gonna lie here, folks: Casting Nash as the Allfather of the Aesir pretty much guaranteed that I was going to eventually watch this movie. Heck, the only thing that could've gotten me to watch this more would've been casting the rest of the nWo too, with the coveted title role going to the one and only Macho Man Randy Savage. Don't lie: You'd watch it.
Unfortunately, it also guaranteed that this movie was going to be terrible. Remember how in the Punisher movie where Nash played the Russian, he remained completely silent despite the comic book version's habit of constantly spouting broken-English punchlines? Yeah, well there's a reason for that. He puts about as much effort into emoting as he does into covering up his tattoos.
Which is to say, absolutely none.
And that brings us to our alleged star in the role of Thor, Cody Deal. Seen above with one of the character's trademark slackjawed stares, Deal is... well, he's starring in a SyFy original picture produced by the Asylum. That pretty much sums it up.
As to the plot, well, stop me if you've heard this one: Due to the machinations of the evil Loki, Thor gets in a fight and is then sent against his will to Earth, where he must prove himself worthy to wield his hammer and save mortals from a threat posed by the gods. Now, that might sound a little familiar if you've been to a movie theater in the past two weeks, but trust me, it's the details that set it apart.
The whole thing kicks off with Greico as Loki (Greicoki?) wandering aimlessly through the forest with what appears to be a more gothy version of a PlayStation 3 motion controller with a femur for a handle. He uses it to summon up a couple of gigantic canines that I am definitely sure were directly inspired by the Diamond Dogs from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
Seriously, they even live underground and burrow up to the surface. Honestly, it surprises me that the Asylum hasn't released an animated feature called My Smallest Horsie yet. Of course, now that I've typed that, I have assured that they will.
Anyway, Loki sets his dogs on Asgard and they start going sickhouse on everything, so Odin decides to lumber around to the Norns, three foxy fates who seem to have worked their way through Destiny Weaving College as exotic dancers:
They introduce Thor's hammer as a plot point, but in a key diversion from the beautifully public domain mythology that the movie's based on, it's never referred to as "Mjolnir" Instead, the bludgeoning McGuffin of this film is "The Hammer of Invincibility," which was forged in the heart of the Tree of Life (or "Treeya Life" as Nash says) by Odin's father, and contains all of his power. This bit of clumsy exposition also reveals that the Hammer of Invincibility is the only thing that can destroy the Treeya Life and with it the entire universe, which is apparently Loki's goal.
Thus, Odin, Thor and Balder -- whose name is pronounced "Bal-DEER" for no particular reason -- rush off to fight Loki, with Thor whining his way through it like Luke Skywalker in the first ten minutes of Star Wars.
But there are two things about this that are poorly plotted even by the Asylum's all but nonexistent standards. For one, it is never once explained why Loki wants to destroy everything including himself. I'm willing to accept such a nihilistic plan from Grieco since his performance has me completely believing that he just does not care, but then there's the second problem: Nobody ever bothers to suggest that the super-powerful Odin actually use his super-powerful HAMMER OF INVINCIBILITY to fight. He just carries it around. It's like it never even occurs to him.
As a result, after being tricked into stabbing Balder, Odin is killed pretty quickly, and this is the movie's major flaw. I mean, not only is asking me to believe that there is any way that even a magically powered Richard Grieco could beat Big Daddy Cool Diesel in a fight stretching suspension of disbelief pretty far, they also lose their chance at making a movie where those two guys just shout each other's names at each other for an hour.
As his last act, Odin hurls the Hammer of I Guess It's Not So Much Invincibility After All into a dimensional rift that will keep it safe from Loki, and tells Thor that he has exactly one chance to retrieve it or it will be lost forever. I am pretty sure that this major plot point is completely forgotten in the next five minutes.
Why? Because with Loki turning his attention to the one person left who knows where the +4 Hammer of Plot Pointiness has gone, it's time for Whiny Thor to get his ass saved constantly over the next hour by Patricia Velasquez as the warrior demigoddess Jarnsaxa.
I have to admit, with all the racist hubbub over casting Idris Elba as Heimdall in the big-budget Thor, I'm surprised I didn't hear of any protests over this movie and its feisty Latina valkyrie. Then again, I imagine that the most that would happen would be an angry letter from a fat white dude, and SyFy probably got used to that the last time they showed an episode of Babylon 5 out of order.
To make a long story short (too late), Jarnsaxa ends up padding out the plot for fifteen minutes by telling Thor how much he sucks at fighting and then determines that they need to head down to Midgard because that's what Thor does in Marvel's version. Thus, they go through a portal into modern day Earth -- as played by two streets in Los Angeles. Congratulations, The Asylum: You just remade Beastmaster II: Through The Portal of Time.
Once they're in LA, Jarnsaxa leads Thor to her apartment, and "Why the hell does a valkyrie from Asgard have an apartment in Los Angeles?" becomes the latest question that the movie just can't be bothered with answering. She admonishes Thor for stopping a mugging because he needs to stay inconspicuous, and then teaches him about Earthly weaponry by having him shoot an entire clip's worth of bullets. Inside. Her apartment.
To me, that seems like the sort of thing that might attract attention -- say, from a SWAT team -- but since I've never been to LA and I've only really experienced the city via Die Hard, I guess it's entirely possible that that's normal out there. The uzi, however, was probably pushing it.
The Asgardians eventually find the Hammer through a process that involves wandering around and fighting the knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but because Thor sucks, Loki pulls the Great Muta's "Poison Mist" finisher and takes it away from him. Loki then nails Thor and Jarnsaxa to a building in some pretty confusing religious imagery, and then drops them into the fiery, lava-filled pits of Hell(?!) where Jarnsaxa dies. Loki then takes the Hammer to the Treeya Life and starts beating on a glowing green rock inside it while shouting "RAGNAROK! RAGNAROK!," which is totally how that happened in the myths, right? Because the myths were written by Gwar? I thought so.
This, of course, has some pretty rough effects on the world, which the Asylum has chosen to represent through stock footage of flowers dying, which is the most hilarious possible way they could've done it.
With Jarnsaxa dead and Loki in control of the Hammer of Okay This Time It's Really Invincibility, Thor finally decides to man up, and ends up forging a new weapon by PUNCHING LAVA UNTIL IT TURNS TO METAL and then making a hammer out of it.
No joke: That is badass.
Thus armed, Thor returns to Earth and he and Loki beat each other with hammers, and while Cody Deal's acting isn't all that great, his form on the golf swing he uses for hammer combat is perfect.
So Loki gets defeated, the stock footage runs in reverse so that the flowers come back to life (not kidding), and Thor takes his new and improved hammer and goes to smash the Norns' loom because they're jerks. The End.
The end result is nowhere near any traditional concept of "quality," but I was completely entertained by the sheer low-budget hilarity of it. I highly recommend checking it out on one of its four thousand scheduled replays on SyFy. Just don't, you know, pay any actual money to watch it. Let's not go crazy here.