My only major disparaging comment about Marvel Studios ‘Thor’ which was a very entertaining popcorn scarfing movie, has nothing to do with the movie but the fact that my people forced me to watch it in IMAX 3D. I could’ve seen this movie for free at the critics screening, but since my boys wanted to watch it as a crew, I blew that off and thus had to drop fifteen dollars to see this in the alleged glory of IMAX 3D, and after watching the movie in IMAX 3D, I saw absolutely no benefit. If I’m paying fifteen dollars to go to a venue I expected Chris Hemsworth to jump of the screen, grab an electric guitar and microphone and start singing some country rock. That did not happen. Oh well, that’s on me. Check that, it’s on my friends. One day they will listen to me and realize there is almost no discernible benefit to these post processed 3D movies.
Thor (Hemsworth) is tall, blonde, muscle bound, good looking, death on the ladies, he’s a god, he’s immortal and his old man Odin (Anthony Hopkins) has just given him the gift of Mjolnir, the most powerful weapon in the universe. So you can see why he might be a little full of himself right now. During a celebration in the regal land of Asgard, a celebration of Thor no less, which only fuels his already lofty image of himself, there is a small attack of the Frost Giants. Who these Frost Giants are is gone over in some detail in the film’s opening sequence, but it ruins the celebration and Thor wants to go to their planet and retaliate. Odin, being all wise and stuff, says no but this doesn’t stop Thor from rounding up his crew which consists of his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the Lady Sif (Jamie Alexander) the boorish Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), the loyal Hogun (Todanobu Asano) and the dashing Fandral (Josh Dallas). Off they go to battle, defying Odin’s orders, with Thor showing us in exquisite CGI detail why he’s considered such a devastating warrior. Unfortunately Thor’s impetuousness also breaks the tenuous peace between the worlds which upsets Odin so greatly that he strips Thor of his powers, his hammer, his immortality and casts him down to Midgard, or what we call Earth, to live life as a normal human.
On earth is where Thor, still very much a god in his mind, makes the acquaintance of pretty scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Thor also learns what we down here
already know, and that’s being human kind of sucks a little bit. Now the movie takes on a strange man in a strange land theme with surprisingly effective comedy as Thor learns to adjust to this odd place to varying degrees of success. While back up in Asgard Loki, always one with something up his sleeve, has learned a few new things about himself and with Thor out of the picture has made his big power play.
What it all boils down to is that up in Asgard Loki has gone completely psycho and wants to insure that his brother never comes back home. On Earth Thor has been thoroughly humbled and is coming to grips with being just an average everyday super handsome 6’4" muscle bound dude with mad fighting skills. I can tell you from personal experience that existing with this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Asgard, Earth and the rest of the nine realms are in grave danger right about now and we really need a god to be reunited with his hammer to help save us. So the son of a god is sent to earth as a man to enlighten us and will eventually be resurrected as a god to ascend to the land above us. Why does that sound so familiar to me?
Though director Kenneth Branagh, better known for his Shakespearean film adaptations than over the top superhero beatuemups, might seem like an odd choice to bring this comic book to life, but I’m of the opinion that he did a fine job straddling the Norse mythology with interpersonal human interactions and the plethora of CGI action that drives this action film. True enough, Branagh and ‘Thor’ are taking absolutely no unnecessary chances with your entertainment dollar, delivering to us about as straight forward a movie as you will see this summer, with the director never losing sight that this is, indeed, a comic book movie.
By that we mean that ‘Thor’ is colorful, it moves fast, it is loud, it doesn’t possess an awful lot of depth and it stays as true to its source material as cinematically possible. Even in parts of the story where the film veers off from the comic for whatever reason, it gives enough nods to the source material that anyone who has read Thor will have to appreciate how the filmmakers made a point to bring a lot of these things back to story in some way.
The only risk that was taken in this production was casting the relatively unknown Chris Hemsworth as Thor but his engaging and charismatic performance was probably the best one in the movie. I guess it also helps being born halfway looking like a Nordic god already. Not surprisingly, with the level of acting talent in this film, the performances were solid all around with Tom Hiddleston in particular making himself known as Thor’s semi-conflicted foil Loki.
Complaints? Well if we were forced to nitpick we could say that the entire love angle between Thor and Jane Foster seemed forced at best, we could also mention that Thor’s road to redemption from arrogant Thunder God to humble servant came about mighty quick. We might mention that Jamie Alexander’s warrior Lady Sif was more cutely adorable than Amazonian Vicious and we would’ve loved to have seen The Enchantress make an appearance… complete with fishnets. Perhaps in Thor’s next adventure.
Kenneth Branagh’s Thor is good, if not great entertainment and a fine film introduction to this iconic comic book character. With what we have seen from Marvel Studios up to this juncture and with expectation levels only going higher with each passing film, the upcoming ‘Avengers’ movie can almost only disappoint.