Directed by: Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray
Written by: Erik Estenberg
Cast: Cody Deal, Richard Grieco, Patricia Velásquez, Kevin Nash
The God of Thunder had quite a busy weekend. Last Friday, he showed up in multiplexes around the country, courtesy of Marvel/Paramount's blockbuster Thor . Then on Saturday night, thanks to those lunatics running The Asylum, he materialized on television in a made-for-Syfy mockbuster called Almighty Thor.
If nothing else, this weekend proved there definitely is a Thor for every budget — Marvel's version cost about $150 million, and I'm willing to bet The Asylum made their film for an amount equal to the catering costs on Marvel's flick. Actually, what these two films really prove is that you get what you pay for.
Let's play contrast and compare. Marvel's film is filled with fine award-winning actors; is loaded with jaw-dropping special effects; and was directed by Kenneth Branagh, noted interpreter of Shakespeare. Almighty Thor is filled with Richard Grieco and that chick from The Mummy; has a few yawn-inducing mediocre effects; and was directed by Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray, son of noted schlockmeister Fred Olen Ray. Again, you get what you pay for.
The nice thing about translating these ancient myths to the screen is that the filmmakers can do pretty much anything they want storywise, as proven by the recent tellings of Camelot  and Spartacus . There are so many different versions of these tales — all that's required is to include one or two of the recognized main characters in whatever action is concocted, and you're set. These two recent takes on Thor are a perfect example of this precept. They both feature Thor, Odin and Loki, and there's a hammer, but that's about the only similarity between the two tellings of the Norse god's legend.
Both Marvel and The Asylum have given us an origin story that features Thor as a young warrior, eager to prove himself. But in Almighty Thor, he is not the brash, arrogant hothead of Marvel's flick. No, he is an earnest corn-fed surfer type (think Tom Cruise circa 1985) with more sensitivity than skills. When the evil god Loki (Richard Grieco) kills Odin (Kevin Nash) to claim the Hammer of Invincibility and instigate Ragnarok (i.e., Armageddon), Thor must step up and become the hero of heroes. But, as we know, no hero ever goes it alone.
Thor (Cody Deal) is aided in his quest by Járnsaxa (Patricia Velásquez), one of Odin's guards. In Norse mythology, Járnsaxa is a giantess, but here she is a normal-size warrior, à la Sif. She has the ability and experience Thor lacks. Together, they flee to Earth's realm (specifically, L.A.), where Thor will learn the lessons necessary (e.g., the use of automatic weapons) to engage Loki and his monstrous dogs of doom in a battle for reality's survival.
Now, before you get too excited, know that this synopsis is much more thrilling than the movie it describes. While I've outlined what sounds like a fairly decent action movie, what Almighty Thor resembles most is a rather pedestrian episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Sadly, Cody Deal has nowhere near the charisma of Kevin Sorbo. And while Patricia Velásquez is fine as this flick's Xena, she doesn't have much to do besides play second fiddle to the lesser Deal (but she does have lines, which is more than she had in The Mummy). The true star of Almighty Thor is Richard Grieco. As Loki, cruising around dressed in leather and doing his best Lou Reed impression, Grieco might just have found the role of a lifetime. Looking like a low-rent Edward Scissorhands impersonator, Grieco stomps away with the picture as he sputters and screams in a flat New York accent that reminded me of Harvey Keitel's turn as Judas in The Last Temptation of Christ.
As soon as a blockbuster hits the screens, The Asylum has a mockbuster to match it. When Transformers opened, they replied with Transmorphers. When The Day the Earth Stood Still hit, they hit one better with The Day the Earth Stopped. I know there’s a market for these movies but, truthfully, knock-offs are not what The Asylum does best. When
ripping off reinterpreting another film, there's a template that has to be followed, at least a little bit. And The Asylum works best without a leash.
If you're reading this, The Asylum, I have a little suggestion: You do what you do better than anyone else. Play to your strengths, my friends. Please, stop with the Almighty Thor’s and The Da Vinci Treasure’s. Give us more Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus and Mega Python vs. Gatoroid . Let the majors handle the majors. There's no shame in being king of the minors. Remember, it's better to rule in hell. Embrace this and you shall flourish, providing riches untold. Deny it and we'll likely get stuck with a Green Lantern knock-off called Jade Beacon. Trust me, guys, no one wants to see that.
But, umm, now that I think about it — that does sound kinda cool...