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Thor Directed by: Kenneth Branagh Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, David Hiddleston, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson Running Time: 1 hr 52 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: May 6, 2011

Read Jeff Bayer's complete Scorecard Review of "Thor" - click here

PLOT: The god and future king of Asgard Thor (Hemsworth) is banished to Earth without his powers after he attacks the enemy race of Frost Giants. Whilst on our planet, he meets a young scientist (Portman).

WHO'S IT FOR?: This movie aims to entertain everyone, but it will probably captivate teenage boys the most. They're Thor's main target after all - let's not kid ourselves.


Correlating to Marvel Comics’ careful calculation to turn all general moviegoers into fanboys and girls, it feels like Thor was at least partially written by the comment cards of Iron Man screenings. Thor operates in some ways very closely to that other introductory film, which brought a not-as-popular superhero to the mega masses. Thor softens its audience to its arrogant character with humor, and the action is spaced out. The sexuality is even toned down, and the wisecracks are given more attention than anything else when it comes to dialogue. Its desire to offer full entertainment causes it to tone everything down, including the movie's thematic dimensions. Twelve-year-olds will love it though. If they could, I'm sure they'd be waiting in line for The Avengers already.

The visual quality of Thor is confusing. For example, the 3D is scandalously bad (to a Clash of the Titans extent). Yet at the same time, the SFX are quite good. Thor’s home “realm” of Asgard comes to full visual life with extreme details to the landscape, and the same can be said with Thor’s rumbling with the Ice Giants. Overall, the movie looks great, but its 3D doesn’t help one bit - it almost takes away from the film.

Further complicating the possibility of appreciating Thor’s visuals is the excessive use of tilted cameras (the fancy term is “dutch angle”). While the dutch angle is often used in film to add an uneasiness to the events on-screen (especially in noir), the dutch angles just look confused, and are aggressively tilted. In a few shots, the camera is so titled that character’s look like they are standing on the walls. It’s very difficult to interpret, if there’s any meaning at all.

Hemsworth is a little more than OK as the title character. He matches the script’s wit with good comedic timing, and also delivers in the movie’s moments of hammertime action. His on-screen father, played by Anthony Hopkins, is also fairly decent in this role (it’s certainly the better work that he has done in a while). Unfortunately, the rest of the Asgardians in Thor are lame characters made to sell action figures. Main villain Loki looks silly with his grasshopper helmet, and Thor’s four warrior friends hardly have any on-screen time, or any purpose.

In terms of dialogue, Kenneth Branagh got a little “dutch angle” funky with the words of Thor too. Everyone on Asgard has their lines constructed in a classical manner, but each line is obvious so that six-year-olds can even understand them. At times the dialogue can be very obvious itself, with everything as needlessly clear as possible.

Thor isn’t as silly as it looks (jacked blonde guy from space walks around Earth with hammer), but its tendencies to play to the really simple make it feel more goofy than it should. The family drama about the two sons of Odin within the film is much less significant than the movie thinks it to be. The entire story is extremely simple, and the action scenes are sporadic and not too momentous. There isn’t much to hook onto with the story of Thor other than the small pleasures that it offers like any other decent comic book movie.


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