After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Thor, Even the Rain, some hot documentaries and two tepid history lessons

Two worlds co-exist -- but not easily -- in this week’s big debut, Thor.

Fantasy and reality go head to head this week. Thor and Something Borrowed are up against a crowd of fact-based titles, documentaries and one radical piece of fiction.

Here’s the list:

Thor   3 stars

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold 3 1/2

Even the Rain 4

DOXA Documentary Festival --

The Conspirator   2 1/2

The Bang Bang Club  2 1/2

Something Borrowed --


THOR: It’s like getting two films in one, but that’s not a good thing. There’s Thor the badly behaved son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) in the mythological Asgard, a realm where everybody speaks in broad Shakespearean tones. That fits director Kenneth Branagh’s experience. Then there’s Thor banished to earth, New Mexico to be exact, where Natalie Portman is a scientist studying some phenomenon or other out in the desert. She looks at those abs on Australian actor Chris Hemsworth, notes a certain chivalry in his demeanor and is instantly charmed.

The problem is the two worlds don’t fit together, and yet we have to go back and forth several times. Asgard is over-decorated with computer-created backdrops, bridges and mountains, plus armies that don’t look real at all. Thor’s brother Loki is trying to replace him in his father’s heart and a blue chief of the Frost Giants (Colm Feore) is trying to take over the kingdom. The scenes on earth are more believable. Thor finds it hard to fit in (he asks for a horse in a pet shop), elude a government agent and find his way through some high-tech security to reclaim his hammer. He also has a fight that looks just like a UFC bout. There’s little emotional resonance with anything that happens in this comic book adaptation, which makes for some actual boring spots. But there is also a nicely playful atmosphere, in the scenes on earth at least. Thor was supposed to kick off the summer blockbuster season but the far more entertaining Fast Five beat him to it. The 3D is unnecessary. (Fifth Avenue, Dunbar, Scotiabank, Dolphin and many suburban theatres).  3 out of 5

THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD: How’s this for a bit of post-modern irony? This film purports to expose the rising practice of sneaking ads into movies by inserting products and logos into their stories. Remember all that Spam in Soul Surfer  or Jean-Claude Van Damme punching out those coke machines in his hockey movie? “Product placement” is hardly unknown and Morgan Spurlock attacks it by joining it. This entire film is financed by deals with sponsors. The title now starts with Pom Wonderful Presents, because a juice company bought in.

More in New Movies

Disney wildlife times two, a blast at American politics and a traumatic teen drama

Also a couple of small but amiable comedies, one of them Canadian

More streaming ideas take you to Brazil, low-life China and two Jesse Eisenberg films

As well as a cleverly-plotted trip to Barcelona thanks to Netflix

Movie theatres are shut down, so what’s streaming?

Some modest recommendations and stay for the last one, an alarm about what has happened to the internet.
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.