2009 Directed by Todor Chapkanov
Written by Steve Bevilacqua and Rafael Jordan
What could have been a cool concept is instead bogged down into a mediocre entry into the SciFi Channel original movie canon. The premise seems simple: Vikings vs. werewolves, and Thor shows up! The execution is problematic. The main problem is the pacing. There is lots of padding with Viking ceremonies and birthright nonsense. That’s great that the screenwriters are some of those people that know a disturbing amount of Nordic culture, but it doesn’t always make compelling viewing. The Vikings spend a lot of time running back and forth on the island as their comrades get picked off, while the werewolves start out as invincible supermonsters and quickly become incredibly easy to kill. Look, I don’t care if the Vikings are wearing the wrong color clothes, have horns or no horns on their helmets, or even if their sword stances are wrong. I just care if the movie is fun. Because, a movie about Vikings vs. werewolves is supposed to be fun. That’s the whole point!
Thor Hammer of the Gods does have good moments. The battles in the last half are pretty good, and it does pick up the pace some. Everyone speaks with exaggerated Shakespeare accents, which at first I found goofy, but it added to some of the camp value that should have been in the rest of the film. It is obvious the film had a very small budget, and it seemed to do well with what it had, I only wished they had spend more on action and less on the Viking stuff, especially since it seemed to not add much of anything to the characters. We learned little about Thor except he was brave and needed to learn more about leadership. That gave us no real emotional connection.
The actors I found little fault with. The biggest fun was Zachary Ty Brian (who has dropped the Ty) as Thor. When I first head this cast announcement, I laughed. I expected this to be terrible. But Zachary Bryan pulled it off, partially because he wasn’t Thor God of Thunder, but just a guy named Thor. As Zachary Bryan has been spending his post-Home Improvement career playing jerks of various degrees on movies and TV, it was nice seeing him do a different role. He might even have a career doing SciFi Channel films to supplement income from the latest Hollywood movie that needs a jerk. Most of the other cast is unknown, but Daz Crawford was pretty entertaining and makes a good jerk character. George Zlatarev appears near the end of the film and does a good job with what little he was given. He was also in Manticore and Grendel along with dozens of other SciFi Channel films.
Thor (Zachery Ty Bryan) – Thor isn’t the God of Thunder and Son of Odin, he’s just a Viking warrior with a fauxhawk who is the youngest of three brothers (Baldur and Ulfrich are the others.) Thor has much to learn in how to be an effective leader, but gets a quick lesson thanks to some werewolves. Thor is also the reincarnation of Thor, a great warrior who can weld the Hammer of the Gods.
Baldur (Mac Brandt) – The middle brother, but treated as the eldest because he was the first legitimate brother. Leader of the Viking quest to the island, only to be betrayed by his own brother. Sacrifices himself due to too much Indiana Jones. Never reached the gate.
Ulfrich (Daz Crawford) – The bastard older brother of Baldur and Thor, Ulfrich really is a bastard because he goes all werewolf on them over imagined women troubles. That bastard!
Freyja (Melissa Leigh) – Baldur’s wife has “the sight”, which means she has visions and stuff. Her visions don’t help her in combat. Freyja has got to be the most common name for girls in fantasy films. It is the fantasy “Jennifer”!
Sif (Alexis Peters) – Ulfrich’s wife or girlfriend or something. She’s friends with Thor, which makes Ulfrich mad. Besides that, she doesn’t really have much personality, though she is a better fighter than Freyja. Alexis Peters appeared on TarsTarkas.NET before in Grendel.
Evil Werewolf Girl (???) – Evil Werewolf Girl was never given a name, but she does have an accent! She’s evil, and a werewolf, so that’s all you need to know. I don’t know who played her, either.
The Viking Brothers (??? and ???) – I am not sure of their names, but these dudes live to the end where they save the ship from werewolves. One has a bow an arrow, and they seem smarter than your average random guy in a SciFi Channel film.
Werewolves (dudes with CGI heads) – What do you get when you CGI wolves heads on top of some shirtless dudes in loin clothes? Werewolves! Yeah. Teen Wolf, this is not.
Fenrir (CGI) – The evil Wolf God and son of Loki. Talks in that stereotypical demon voice. His CGI is some sort of armored wolf, but it is too dark to get a good view. Not a big fan of MC Hammer.
SciFi Channel is worse than the monsters in the films it continues to pump out at a hypersonic rate. At least in their films, the monster dies at the end after killing off most of the cast. In reality, SciFi Channel cannot be stopped, and no matter how many of their films are taken down, the network remains strong and continues to send its armies against the good people of the world. Whenever the people are in danger, there will always be heroes who rise to the challenge to fight the monsters. Once again, the Dragon Slayers have mobilized to take on a creature sewing destruction upon the lands. In this case, that monster is Grendel, based on the epic poem Beowulf. Based on may be too kind of a word. Grendel shares some of the same character names as Beowulf, and some of the same plot. The details change, a lot. To the point that one wonders if they read the original poem, or even the Cliff Notes. Heck, had they watched the Star Trek Voyager episode about Beowulf they would have been more accurate. Instead, we have some sort of super-crossbow that fires explosive rockets.
A few brief notes on the literary wonder that is Beowulf. With events taking place in the late 5th through early 6th centuries A.D. Beowulf gives a glimpse into a period rich with battles, heroes and epic lore. One of the few surviving epics in Old English it is often referred to as, "The Oldest English Epic". Beloved by scholars it inspired Tolkien (who was an authority on the text) and many another author. It has, surprisingly seen little attention on film, the Christopher Lambert film of the name was a futuristic SciFi piece with little relation to the epic. 2005’s Beowulf & Grendel reworked the source material to tell a moralistic tale with Grendel as a misunderstood primitive. It received mixed reviews (Iain says, "I liked it for the most part"). A motion capture adaptation is to be released in 2007, this appears to be attempting to stick within the vein of epic.
TarsTarkas.NET and FantasyFilmscapes.com are doing another tag-team review. As usual, the opening segment is collaborative, after that, we will be alternating every 15 minutes of film between Tars Tarkas from here and Iain Norman from FantasyFilmscapes.com. Once you have gone through this version of the review, be sure to drop by FantasyFilmscapes.com’s version, with different pictures, different formatting, and plenty of other content on that site as well. Now let’s begin: Continue reading →