Notable Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Anthony Hopkins, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba, Clark Gregg, Ray Stevenson
Review: Thor is interesting from the start because the man is more than a hero; he’s a bona-fide God. Based off stories stemming from Norse mythology, Thor is the all mighty God of Thunder, being born from the ruler of Asgard, Odin. There’s no freak accident that caused his powers a la a radioactive spider bite or extreme gamma radiation exposure, so the story possesses a much more mythic and classical back story to deal with. That’s why bringing in known theatric Kenneth Branagh (Henry V/Hamlet) to tackle the mythology was a great fit, but Branagh does well not letting the tone of the film slip into a two-hour long Norse Mythology lesson; which was my biggest fear. To the delight of all, Thor continues the trend of successful Marvel films that are bringing us closer and closer to the culmination of each single story coming together: The Avengers. It even subtly introduces another Avenger, played by Jeremy Renner, which I won’t spoil for those of you who still have yet to sneak away to theaters. Thor is a fantastic origin story of one of the most powerful superheroes of all time, worthy for the eyes of mere mortals or gargantuan gods.
So to do the whole background of Thor (Hemsworth), God of Thunder, you have to go from the beginning. Both he and his brother Loki (Hiddleston) were being groomed from a young age for one to take over as ruler of Asgard when their father Odin (Hopkins) relinquished his rule. Thor himself is a great warrior, and uses a more rash mentality when making decisions, while Loki on the other hand relies on his words and magic. After years of ascending to greatness, Thor is deemed to be the next ruler over his brother Loki, but a crucial mistake costs Thor everything he had established to that point. On his induction day, a group of Frost Giants (Asgardian enemies) infiltrate Asgard and attempt to steal a powerful weapon from their safe keeping. Against the wishes of his father, but with the clever backing of his brother Loki, Thor and his warriors travel to the Frost Giant’s planet to send them a message that their attacks will have dangerous repercussions. After they defeat numerous Frost Giant warriors, King of the Frost Giants Laufey (Colm Feore) declares the truce between both parties lifted, and promises a war to be coming. From this example, Odin not only deems Thor not ready to be ruler, but banishes his to Earth and strips him of all power. The once mighty Thor, reduced to the form of a mere mortal, crash lands in New Mexico only to be found by scientist Jane Foster (Portman) who is with her intern Darcy (Dennings) and her mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Skarsgård). Thor is also pleased to learn that his hammer has crash landed near him, but so is the ever prevalent S.H.E.I.L.D agency. Back in Asgard, Loki becomes king, but his intentions come in question when others notice his shady actions. From here, Thor tries to find his way back to Asgard with the help of Dr. Foster, while the Asgardians try to find a way to bring back their most faithful warrior. A lot to understand, but somehow even the two hours felt too short for all this material.
“I CAN’T HEAR YOU ASGARD!!!”
Atmospherically in the film, I commend Branagh greatly because he was able to create a sprawling universe I can only describe as epic. The way he seamlessly could transition from Asgard to Earth was beautiful, and the created city of Asgard was gorgeous down to every last detail. Being shot down Rainbow Road and passing through the universe was a spectacle in its own, and only made the film feel that much more expansive. But, as I said before, I was even more impressed with the tone Thor carried, making even some of the drier moments entertaining. Branagh loves to recreate classic stories, as I’m sure most of you have been forced to see in some type of English class. Thor had every possibility to turn into another bland retelling (Branagh is talented, but I didn’t want Thor via a Shakespearian retelling), but Branagh keeps the comic book feel alive with comedy and well placed action.
Origin stories are always hard to maneuver because of all the daunting tasks involved. The movie has to correctly establish the back story of the character and introduce him/her to the audience, set up a world and conflicts for the character so that future films can take place, have enough character development to make the film we are watching have meaning, make the story entertaining enough to keep us intrigued in the present, and tie everything together into a presentable package. For Thor to have been even better, it would have had to have been even longer. Certain instances seemed rushed, mostly with the characters. Thor’s transformation from the immature and battle hungry warrior into a level-headed leader happens seemingly instantly, just like the relationship between him and Jane Foster. Portman’s character falls in love with a man declaring he’s the God of Thunder and babbling like a drunk fool almost instantly, and it seemed a bit forced. But to sneak in battle scenes with Frost Giants and giant mechanical killing machines, along with all the details leading up to Thor’s triumphant return in his character arc, sacrifices had to be made.
Built like every other Marvel film to date, Thor is more than formidable big screen adaptation for a king amongst men. Branagh was able to cram in everything necessary to get us up to speed with Thor, while setting up for his adventures with The Avengers. Hemsworth himself filled the shoes of Thor perfectly, physically making others around him look like puny weaklings. His delivery, charm, and everything else just screamed Thor. At this point, we all know the formula for comic book hero movies, so it’s just a matter of running down the typical checklist. Thor does everything right, and is easily comparable to other great comic films as of late such as Iron Man. It’s a fun and entertaining adventure, sure to appease even the most hardcore of Thor comic fans.
Final Rating: 8 hammers from the Gods out of 10
P.S. —-> STAY AFTER CREDITS! : )
Also, the costumes were out of this world. So much attention to detail, and totally real. None of that CGI costume bullcrap for Thor.