Norwegian filmmaker André Øvredal turned Hollywood heads in 2011 with his local folkloric fantasy Troll Hunter. So it must irk him that the definitive movie franchise about the Old Norse gods has been made by Americans, with an Australian for its star. Reclaiming Thor from the cultural appropriators may be a noble cause, but that’s no guarantee of victory.
In the mountains of Norway’s picturesque Odda region, a mysteriously powerful traveller named Eric (Nat Wolff) has been hiding out since his suspected involvement in a fatal arson attack three years ago. He emerges to forage for supplies in town and, after accidentally-on-purpose killing a local teen bully, he’s arrested by police chief Henrik (Per Frisch), an officer far too kindly and sober to ever make it in the mean streets of Nordic noir.
Henrik calls in young psychologist Christina (Iben Akerlie) to evaluate the stranger and, as a highly predictable romance develops, she intuits that Eric’s electromagnetic outbursts are rooted in his psychic turmoil. Only when he understands the latter will he be able to master the former – the usual adolescent X-Men neuroses, then. Christina slots in as the all-forgiving woman of bottomless compassion who dedicates herself to helping Eric hold it in and, when he doesn’t quite manage – which is often – cleaning up his mess afterwards.
The modest visual effects, which mostly consist of distant lighting bolts and gathering storm clouds, can do little to elevate this potty-training-for-the-patriarchy narrative. Until Thor’s hammer turns up, it’s basically the Weather Channel. All of which goes to show that subtitles and scenery can’t make a formulaic superhero movie any more interesting. The natural wonders of the Odda Valley are just no match for the computer-generated wonders of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
• Mortal is available on digital platforms.
Source: The Guardian