I Am Thor: NZFF Review
How would you feel to be on the comeback trail for over a decade?
That's part of the thrust of I Am Thor, a tremendously entertaining doco from Ryan Wise, playing as part of the Incredibly Strange section and centring on Jon Miki Thor.
In the 1970s, Jon Miki Thor was already forging his own path as his own version of the Norse God - and the centrepiece of this body-building dude's act was making a hot water bottle explode. Believing his own hype, the blonde, buffed-up shaggy-haired Thor and his band of rockers were determined to conquer, with their power rock that pre-dated Kiss.
Despite harbouring big dreams and a self-belief that continued to fuel him, the perennial underdog JMT never quite made it - but bizarrely, he never let that put him off.
Wise's doco, deemed affectionate by many, is clearly hilarious but never at Thor's expense. (You could say it never deems to take the Miki)
Assembling hours upon hours of footage from the man himself as well as interviews from his band members and stand-in band members, you get the measure of the man; a man who was his own manager but created a faux persona for that manager (a hilarious trade-off later on when Thor and his band play a Swedish festival) ; a man whose drive for showmanship was never compromised, even when it looked like his capabilities fell far short of his own skills.
As the deluded bluster continues, you actually end up really wanting Thor to achieve his goal - and Wise is smart enough to know that this guy gives himself enough rope to hang his blonde ambition and provides great cinema for those sat in the audience. Yet, it's an endearing portrait, a genuine examination of how ambition fuels and fires someone throughout the years, no matter what life throws at them.
In every low moment of Thor's career, there's a feeling that his latest stage of the comeback is waiting around the corner - and his adaptability to each decade of despair is as heart-warming as it is hilarious. Watching him hawk his wares at ComicCon in San Diego is as sad as it is amusing; and therein lies the strength of I Am Thor.
It's a doco that's genuine, about a subject who's so affable despite being so incredibly deluded.
Funny and wry, smart and savvy, this cautionary tale is nothing short of ashamedly feel-good fun. This is one Norse god that continually resurrects himself admirably - and the ride he takes you on is well worth the price of admission.