Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

{Legends of Valhalla: Thor screens at SIFF on June 2, 11am, at Pacific Place}

I’ll start by damning with faint praise: this is the sort of movie that makes you appreciate how truly spectacular the achievements of Pixar are, in case you were in the habit of taking them for granted. Legends of Valhalla: Thor is a perfectly fine kid movie. My 5-year-old loved it and my almost-3-year-old sat intently through the whole thing. They both felt strongly that I should tell you all how incredibly cool it is when the Guardian of the Gates of Valhalla sends forth a spectacular rainbow bridge to welcome the dead.

But it’s not a top-drawer film. The animation, even compared with the original Toy Story, is pretty clunky, despite the imaginative art and set direction. And the characters, for the most part, steer closer to collections of mannerisms than fully realized personalities. Thor is a Whiny but Promising and Ambitious Teenager. Odin (who looks a bit like Sean Connery, which, sure, why not?) is a Pompous, Out-Of-Touch Leader. Freyja, I think, was meant to be The Smartest One in the Room Even Though She’s A Woman (ahem), but I think the filmmakers weren’t always super clear on the difference between Powerful but Exasperated and, well, Bitchy.

I’m making it sound worse than it is, though. It really is both fun and watchable. The villain Hel, in particular, is pretty delicious with her fabulous and improbable hairdo and her blade-like fingernails. Thor’s mother is warm and sweet and also a closet badass. And the story, whether you follow all of it or not—I suspect that I missed a great deal compared with the Icelandic audiences who already know the legend and all its non-Marvel permutations—is engaging and enjoyable. On the scale of parental re-watch-ability (from “I wouldn’t even want my kids to see it” to “we’ll happily watch it together 25 times”), I’d give it an “eh, sure, I’ll watch it again if I don't have anything more promising handy.” My son, however, ranks it at “I’ll ask mama to see it again every time I think of it.” So factor that in accordingly.