Behold the magnificent, the marvelous…the MIGHTY THOR! Apologies for the cliched notation, but I couldn’t resist. So ya, finally, Marvel Comics most fictional, fantastical character of myth, might and magic has hit the big screen (released in the US on May 6th) Surprisingly, it’s not only one of the better super hero films, its one of the few really good ones.
The plot goes a little something like this… Thor, the quick-to-fight, self-centered, douchey, warrior and heir, is banished from the heavenly kingdom of Asgard by his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), after disobeying his command, to a distant realm… called Earth! Now he needs to get back, but his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who was previously living in Thor’s shadow, is proclaimed temporary king after his father collapses on a staircase, or something and forces Thor to stay on Earth, and live among the mortals. He then falls in love with Jane (Natalie Portman), who is somewhat of a scientist, and sways him from “You dare threaten me? I’ll kick your ass” mentality to something a bit more reasonable and respectable.
Many thought the god of thunder and his cooky mythology wouldn’t translate well to film or play well in the sandbox of Marvels other films. Oddly enough, it’s that fantasy element that makes it work. When gods and magic are at play, a viewer is able to suspend disbelief; anything and everything is accepted. Regardless of all that, ‘Thor’ was forged in the fires of imagination by director Kenneth Branagh. Who successfully pulls off the balance between the Norse mythology stuff and the real world Marvel Universe. Branagh’s competent direction, the excellent performances and the solid screenplay make ‘Thor’ to be a fun, exhilarating, entertaining movie.
The story -focusing on the relationship of Thor’s family and moral values- draws you in, the characters are likable, the pace is just right, doesn’t race along. However, I must rant a bit about the characterization and narration, which from a critics eye was a little bit of a hiccup from time to time. There’s enough to establish who folks are and what purpose they serve to the narrative, but it’s weak and undeveloped in some parts. Particularly with the earth characters (bunch a bumbling useless idiots) as well as the relationship with Thor and Loki. The latter severely being overlooked. Here you have Loki the supposed jealous brother with daddy approval issues, yet there is nothing to establish this, nor is there sufficient reason given for his later intentions and desperations. We have the effect but no cause. Luckily, Tom Hiddleston’s strong over-all performance (dude really stole the show) coupled with a one-on-one scene with Odin father (Anthony Hopkins) manages to position Loki as a sympathetic villain.
Loki’s struggle for power and approval falls second to the stories central theme of humility. Thor, while certainly mighty and exudes the respect and class of a warrior, is fool hearty, vain, greedy and arrogant. He gets sent to earth for being douche and inciting a war with the frost giants. Stripped of his powers, banished to live among the mortals. Only if he be worthy can he reclaim the power of Thor. Now that’s all well and good, but his journey to becoming a god again happens rather quickly and with out significant cause. Basically he spends 1 DAY with Natalie Portman and her cohorts and he’s reformed. Portman and her space science friends (Stellan Skarsgård and Kat Dennings) are underused and underplayed. Offering no real influence on Thor’s development. With that said, there is much humor to be found in the fish-out-of-water situation that Thor finds himself in.
So it’s not perfect, but honestly it doesn’t matter. Branagh keeps the main story arc moving along at a decent pace, showing us some spectacular visuals (the sweeping canvas of Asgard is truly magnificent. Archaic and futuristic architecture that is utterly breathtaking) along the way and finds time to showcase the formidable acting chops of British actors Hopkins (commands attention every time) and Hiddleston.
Chris Hemsworth embodies the character of Thor exceptionally. Ladies will like him because he’s something out of adventure romance novel; his swagger, muscles and perky man boobs will salivate and entrance, I’m sure. Men will like him because he’s a bad ass. The dude kicks major butt. A hammer wielding wrecking machine. Speaking of which, Thor’s magical prowess brought about by Mjolnir, is an incredible spectacle. When Thor wields his trusty hammer into battle, twirling, throwing, flying and calling in some thunder and lighting for good measure, it’s a heart-pulsing sight to behold.
Thor’s allies back on Asgard prove interesting as well. His friends – referred to at one point as “Xena, Jackie Chan and Robin Hood” aren’t just one-dimensional characters. They’re actually developed well and you grow to like them. Special mention to Idris Elba for being friggin’ awesome as Heimdall- Norse deity and watchmen of the 9 realms.
This is a film that could easily have been a disaster – given it’s godly nature, yet it’s laced with humor, largely manages to avoid camp and is full of spectacular images and plenty of action. It plays out predictably and lacks some depth, but all things considered, it’s a fun movie, offering a great sense of adventure. ‘Thor’ is everything a comic book movie should be.