Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings
Running Time: 1 hr 54 mins
Release Date: May 6, 2011
PLOT: The god Thor (Hemsworth) disobeys his father (Hopkins) by attacking the Frost Giants. He is banished to Earth and stripped of his powers. Thor comes to realize he’s been double crossed.
WHO’S IT FOR? Young super hero fans will eat this one up. It’s also funny enough to appeal to a wide audience.
EXPECTATIONS: I thought the level of difficulty was pretty high with this one. The Avengers are based on fictional science and money (Hulk and Iron Man). Thor is a god with a big hammer from a land of rainbow walkways. Plus, Hemswroth is not a household name … yet.
Chris Hemsworth as Thor: Big, blond and pretty bad ass. Hemsworth is a visual perfect fit. When we first meet Thor he’s like a manicured Hulk, he just wants to smash. That doesn’t give us great motivation to follow him on this adventure. Then you realize it’s impossible to relate to this guy. That’s what all of the other characters are for (like Portman). Once on Earth, Hemsworth shows really solid dead pan comedic timing, like when he says, “I need sustenance.”
Natalie Portman as Jane Foster: Denise Richards once played Dr. Christmas Jones in the James Bond film The World is Not Enough. So yes, I can easily buy Portman as a scientist. She’s beyond qualified. I mean, she actually appears to be intelligent outside of this role, right? That’s what is so fun about this role. Jane is obsessed with her work, but she turns into putty when Thor is around.
Tom Hiddleston as Loki: He’s got a lot on his plate. The brother of Thor gets lost in the shuffle growing up in Asgard. That makes sense. He also gets lost in this movie as well. There’s a moment where Loki and Odin (Hopkins) just nail a scene together when they get into Loki’s past and exactly why he always feels like a second fiddle. More of this is what I needed to enjoy this character.
Rest of Cast: Kat Dennings stars as Darcy. She’s the intern working with Jane and they’re pretty much opposites. It’s such a fun addition to the cast and Dennings nails it as the girl who says what’s on her mind. Stellan Skarsgård is also on “team science” as Erik, but his Norse heritage gives us a gateway to having these characters relate to Thor. Hopkins as Odin is just like Marlon Brando as Jor-El. Then there’s the team of Thor sidekicks like Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) that add a few laughs. Plus to help bridge the Avengers gap we have Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson. I’ve loved Gregg since “Sports Night” and his dead pan comedy rivals Hemsworth. Dear lord, I didn’t even mention Idris Elba or Renne Russo. There’s a big cast.
TALKING: After about 30 minutes we’re left with a superhero movie without any powers. Tough sell. Yet Thor really nails this with flirting and fun. Dear lord, I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence. Look, Thor wanting a horse at a pet store is funny, deal with it. There are tons of terms/phrases potentially based in Norse lore. I have no idea what they were exactly called or how to spell them, but luckily there was no test after. It very much seems to stay true to its comic book roots.
SIGHTS: I saw it in 3D, but there is no need. You never feel like you’re flying with the hammer or anything like that. It doesn’t look bad, just unnecessary. Hemsworth nails the look. He’s cut. New Mexico and the small town idea works great. The Frost Giants look like good CGI instead of anything real. They also overdid it just a little bit on the slow motion.
SOUNDS: It’s a superhero score. Good. “I Can Help” by Billy Swan fits right in as an old time treat.
BEST SCENE: While most will think Thor smashing things with his hammer is the best, I’m going with a guy with no powers thinking he’s a god, when he first gets to Earth.
ENDING: The final fight didn’t work for me. Been there, done that. But once complete the ending works. Thor had to make a tough decision and picked the right one. And yes, once again stay for through the closing credits for a little something extra.
QUESTIONS: Did you notice I didn’t give away every twist or simply tell you who the villain is? Try to find another film critic who does that. Also, dads out there, rule of them … if your kid is adopted, tell him while he’s young.
REWATCHABILITY: Definitely. After the first 20 minutes the movie flies by.
Thor is like an evolutionary Superman II. Thor loses his powers to find out who he truly is. There are plenty of laughs. The father figure is an easy comparison between Brando and Hopkins. We even have a gang of gods/superheroes walking the street in broad daylight making all of the ordinary humans wonder what is going on. There is one difference though and that’s the villains. It’s always difficult in an origin story to set up the world, the main character, the woman he has to save (typically) and then create a compelling villain. Sure there are Frost Giants, and big robot and somebody else, I just never felt engaged or worried by these components.
I know it’s a tougher sell then Robert Downey Jr. in a metal suit kicking back a couple of cocktails, but it fits really nicely with the Avengers ongoing story. Thor brings enough thunder to satisfy your summer blockbuster appetite.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10