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May 8, 2011

I actually have one statement to start this review, and that word is WOW. I don’t know whether I was in a really good mood, or maybe I was throbbing for an action movie, but Thor is the true kick-off to the summer movie season. If Captain America: The First Avenger lives up to it’s comic con buildup, then Joss Wheedon’s 2012 The Avengers will be a real delight! Even though Captain America isn’t hitting theaters until July, Marvel fans can check out Thor, which is a great film thanks to its moderately simple plot about bewilderment and unfaithfulness. Thor is also one of the first installments that essentially work, other than Iron Man and Spider Man.

When commanding but egotistical warrior Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is cast out of the incredible realm of Asgard by his father/king Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and is sent to live amongst the humans on Earth, where he “randomly” meets up with three scientists (Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, and Stellan Skarsgård) and they attempt to understand who or what he is and where he came from. Back in Asgard, all hell is breaking loose. Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) becomes the new king after Odin unexpectedly becomes sick and lapses into some sort of force-field coma. We soon gain knowledge that Loki is not on the good side, and is scheduling to stage a war involving Asgard and the ice-people planet, as I like to identify them as. Back on earth, Thor finds the location of his hammer, which is being heavily guarded by S.H.I.E.L.D, who have been in all of the recent Marvel films (Iron Man 1-2, The Incredible Hulk). After an attempted break in, Thor learns about his brother’s true intentions and strategies a plan to go back to Asgard and save his home planet.

Alongside numerous others, I was astonished when I heard that Kenneth Branagh was slated to direct. Virtually each and every one of Branagh’s past films have been film adaptations of William Shakespeare’s plays. So you can empathize how peculiar this was, having a Shakespeare man directing the next huge Marvel action movie. Once again, Marvel surprises me. I actually liked the arrangement and associations between the characters, including the Jane-Thor relationship, which you don’t really give a large amount of thought until about halfway through when it starts to make a lot of sense. I think that Branagh could have done more with the action, but with what he gives us, is definitely enough to entertain, especially with Branagh’s message pertaining to this film that courage is immortal, which happens to be a tag line for the film.

The visual effects in this film were astounding, taking into consideration that most of the planet of Asgard was CGI. When making a film, particularly one this Sci-Fi and fantasy oriented, you would anticipate the coolest of the cool. Did I get the coolest of the cool? Why yes, I did. If you pay attention like I did, the amount of work put into perhaps five seconds of Thor flying through Asgard and the detail put into those short five seconds make an enormous difference and beyond doubt impresses me. There was one other scene that I was blown away by, and that was when Loki sent the user-controlled fire breathing metal robot to earth on a mission to murder Thor to preclude him from returning to Asgard. The two best things about that scene was the amount of damage and deaths that the fire breathing metal robot caused, and to facilitate, it’s a pivotal moment in the film because (spoiler alert) it’s when Thor gets his hammer back and beats the living hell out of that robot! The only flaw in all of this was that it was pretty obvious that this film was not made to be 3D. Yet studios feel the need to make every blockbuster film in 3D. Aside from that, I have no concrete complaints. So, I guess you can say that I was blown away by the CGI in this film.

Clark Gregg plays a vital role as Agent Caulson of S.H.I.E.L.D, where I previously mentioned had made cameo appearances in the previous Marvel movies, which is all leading up to the entire Avengers storyline. Despite the fact that his character plays a colossal role in Thor, his actions seem quite impractical from a spectators standpoint. In my opinion, Agent Caulson and his highly trained and confidential government team in all probability wouldn’t immediately change their minds about which side Thor is playing for. What makes the least sense is after Thor beats up many of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s trained guards and breaks into their heavily guarded government facility where they are guarding Thor’s hammer, Caulson realizes that Thor isn’t playing for the bad side, and S.H.I.E.L.D. pretty much gets out of his life… for now. Aside from that, Clark Gregg is a fine actor. While he may not completely represent Caulson with total accurateness, it’s at least good enough bearing in mind the subject matter of superhumans and government conspiracies.

Despite the fact that this is an origin story, Thor doesn’t show his strong suit here. It seems that instead of showing how Thor turned out to be the leader that he is, we observe a brief glimpse of his childhood at the beginning of the movie, where Odin tells him and his brother that one of them will grow to be the future king. Instead of seeing his whole life progressing, we are put into a pivotal point in his adventure of becoming a hero and a leader. Man, I can’t envision what it would be like if we had a whole Peter Parker-Spider Man origin story going on. But I guess Branagh wanted to get the film going at a fast pace so that audience would be more entertained, with a more attention-grabbing storyline.

Along with so much going on in this film, there is a lot to discuss. For now, I would like to pass on my good wishes to actor Tom Hiddleston for his breakout role as the villainous Loki, aka the god of disobedience. For the first half of the film, audiences most likely don’t care about Thor’s less triumphant brother Loki. Soon enough though, we realize that Loki isn’t who he says he is. What he actually is, is an ice-man who was taken in by Odin when he was a baby and raised as one of them on Asgard. After Loki essentially forces his “father” into some kind of coma, he becomes king, and it’s pretty understandable what happens next. It’s a classic tale of unfaithfulness and retribution. Hiddleston takes his character to even further complexity as the movie proceeds. Loki’s entire personality starts to revolutionize and he bids war with the ice planet and Asgard. I still am trying to figure out Loki’s quirky behavior and crazy antics. I guess it’s just an element of the fun!

The film is additionally quite comedic. If the story itself isn’t funny enough (a mystical hammer man thing), audiences are fortunate enough to have the presence of the charismatic Kat Dennings (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist), who is essentially a laugh-a-minute riot in her role as scientist Darcy Lewis. Darcy is the film’s comic relief. Still I would like to point out another scene stealer, which is ironically it’s lead Chris Hemsworth, at least in all of his earth scenes. Seeing Thor attempting to adjust to human life is not only interesting, but also hilarious. For instance, once Thor is done drinking coffee, he throws it on the ground, breaking it, and asks “politely” for another. In an additional scene, Thor walks into a pet smart type store and demands a horse. Comic gold, am I right? (Especially considering that this is a Marvel movie)

Chris Hemsworth is perfectly cast as Thor. When I say that, I’m not exaggerating. As a fan of the superhero, Hemsworth captures everything that Thor is, the accent, the passion, the actions, the emotion, the confidence, etc. In addition to playing a great Thor, Hemsworth also gives his character a persona, which changes throughout the course of the film, as well as his time spent on earth. Having said that, I can’t imagine anybody else who could capture the true Thor except the extraordinary Chris Hemsworth in a great breakout performance that has me tremendously excited to see what he does with this character next in The Avengers. In addition to Hemsworth’s performance, Thor also features a commanding performance from Idris Elba (Takers, The Office) as Heimdall the gatekeeper, who I just loved and couldn’t help but bring up. Also, if you stay after the credits, there may or may not be a surprise ending. In conclusion, Thor is a great start to a summer of hopefully great movies and I extremely recommend it!

Odin: I have sacrificed much to achieve peace. So too must a new generation sacrifice to maintain that peace. Responsibility! Duty! Honor! These are not mere virtues to which we must aspire! They are essential to every soldier, to every king!

Thor: 4.5 out of 5

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 8, 2011 3:51 am

    Part of what I wanted from the film was a guy in armor with a giant hammer smacking frost giants in the face…and so I got that. It was a good time at the theaters, and that’s all I asked for. Good review, check out mine when you can!


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