Bigger Show’s Review of “I AM THOR”
In the past ten years or so we as the viewing audience have become enamored with the rags to riches to rags to riches story, especially when it pertains to musicians.
Anvil: The Story of Anvil as well as Last Days Here and maybe to a lesser degree Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster have pulled back the curtain on an age of musical excess and have revealed the price paid by so many who made it only to fall from grace. The newest entry into this music doc sub-genre chronicles one of the most unique performers of the 1980’s, Jon Mikl Thor. Unlike its contemporaries, however, I AM THOR, while full of heart, feels more like a film from a fan than an in-depth documentary.
The film kicks off with Thor’s history, narrated by the man himself. Even early on, Jon wanted to be equal parts super hero, rockstar and adonis and how these passions fused is really the most interesting part of the film. From garage bands to nude table waiting to The Merv Griffin Show, Thor honed his persona that was not only pure metal hero but also a fair share of He-Man and sideshow (steel bending/brick bashing) thrown in the mix as well. The unfortunate thing about the film though, is very little time is spent on this early development. We get around 25 minutes of bedlam (including an honest to goodness kidnapping) before we shift focus into Thor’s decade plus comeback tour.
The unfortunately glossed over bits are that in 1987 Jon has a breakdown and leaves show business. He and his wife retire to a quaint suburban home and it would seem the rest was history…until it very suddenly isn’t. Seemingly out of nowhere Thor decides that he’s had enough of the quiet day to day and that he has to get back on the road. What follows is an hour of mishmashed comeback shows that span from 1998 to the mid 2000’s.
The problem (other than a comeback lasting well over a decade) is that its essentially the same shtick for most of the rest of the film. Jon has passion (which may border on delusions of grandeur) but through trying to manage himself he only succeeds in playing oddball venues, cycling through back up bands and running his health into the ground. One of the more poignant scenes sees Jon having just had his luggage lost before a big performance and sitting down in a Burger King to take his litany of medications. It shows a very mortal side to the god-like performer and it made me wish there was more of this in the film.
The film ends up nicely with a three show European tour where Jon discovers that Thor never died and is in fact pretty huge. It was really great to see these guys who have been on the grind for a decade finally get the pay off however because we’re never made to feel like the decade long (and preceding hour and change) has been exceptionally hard for our hero, there isn’t a huge emotional pay off.
I like the underdog story. I think we all do. That’s why Anvil worked so well and in a lot of ways I AM THOR does too. But the lack of a “make it or break it” angle just makes this feel like the special features of a concert DVD, which is in no way a bad thing. If you’ve ever been a fan of Thor or that era of metal, its a straight forward look at the god of thunder who’s still out there grinding away and we’re made to believe for better, rather than worse.
3 out of 5 Barrels