Review: Thor - The Hammer of the Gods / Director: Todor Chapkanov / Screenplay: Steve Bevilacqua, Rafael Jordan / Starring: Zachery Ty Bryan, Mac Brandt, Daz Crawford / Release Date: Out Now
A side effect of the assembling Avengers has seen an assault on straight to DVD cinema by the God of Thunder himself, Thor. With the big man's name lying beyond Marvel copyright jurisdiction, it leaves the door open for many movies starring a Thor. Not that Thor, sure, but a Thor.
This Viking adventure precedes the most recent Marvel adaptation by two years, a re-issue of a Sci-Fi Channel television movie, starring Zachary Ty Bryan (of Home Improvement fame) as the big man. Chris Hemsworth he is not, although some of the characters sound a bit like him at times. To compare the film to 2011's Thor seems a little unfair, given the latter's Marvel budget and big-name director. But you can't have your cake and eat it; by cheekily surfing in on the coattails of Thor's success, it invites such unfortunate comparison.
Hammer of the Gods sees Thor and his treasure-seeking Viking comrades travelling to an island, where they encounter vicious, inhuman creatures. “There is something on this island,” the warriors realise, “and it doesn't much like men.” Not so much Ice Giants but foaming lycanthropes. What follows is like Dog Soldiers crossed with Outlander but without any of the action.
Zachary Bryan is terribly miscast as Thor. Even his Home Improvement dad Tim Allen would have done a better job than this chubby pretender to the throne. He looks less like the God of Thunder and more like a downcast tabletop gamer, having just been beaten by a twelve-year-old at his wargame of choice. Not everyone can boast Hemsworth's admirable abs, but Bryan is the least impressive person in his own movie. He's decidedly mortal here, making it appear as though the filmmakers had made a film about a gang of rubbish Vikings and renamed one of them Thor as an afterthought. Other names from Norse legend will sound familiar, but no one seems particularly legendary. As the group are beset by werewolves (mostly off-screen), Thor has visions of a great warrior wielding a mighty hammer. Believing the hammer to be the key to their survival, he sets about hunting it down. Because who needs silver bullets when you have a big hammer?
More impressive than Budget Thor are Mac Brandt (one of the few actors who actually looks the part) and Daz Crawford. Crawford will be most recognisable as Lighthammer from Blade II. His heavy Northern accent hardly befits a Viking warrior, but he's still the best thing about Hammer of the Gods. Close your eyes when he talks, and you can pretend Sean Bean is in it. The werewolves are unbelievably horrible. Hardly any attempt is made to disguise the fact that they're just men in dodgy wolf masks. It would be funny, were it not for the preceding hour of tedium it takes to get to that point. Since the film is best served by keeping its werewolves well away from the front of the camera, much of the action consists of the Vikings bickering amongst themselves. It looks pretty, but watching this Thor feels like a constant chore. By the time the man finally gets his Mjolnir, it's too late to care.
It's a dull, uninteresting and cheap film with acting and a script typical of a Sci-Fi production. Don't let the fact that its lead character is currently in vogue pull you in – Hammer of the Gods is thor-oughly bad.