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May 07

Thor {Film Review}

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Thor was going to be the most difficult to adapt out of all the Marvel heroes. Yes it is based on Norse mythology, but this is straight from the Marvel creation by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962. This could’ve come off as being unintentionally hilarious but luckily a sophisticated filmmaker came on-board and made it all (somehow) work!

The story is about Thor (Chris Hemsworth) who’s the son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), who simply defies his father’s orders by breaking a truce between the Asgardians and the Frost Giants. Through his arrogance and war-mongering, Odin takes Thor’s godly powers away and exiles him to Earth. He lands in New Mexico, where scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), accompanied by mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and assistant Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), encounters with Thor (through an unnatural storm). Through-out Thor’s banishment, he is humiliated the way they treat him and doesn’t believe he is the god of thunder. Meanwhile, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) plots a scheme to keep Thor banished and take over the throne of Asgard. Thor tries to retrieve his hammer, Mjolnir, but with no success (Odin cast a spell only the worthy can wield it).

Chris Hemsworth as the titular hero really does stand his two feet. You may recognise him as Kirk’s father, George Kirk, in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. He makes the character strong, charismatic and out-right likable from the very start. Back in the 80s, muscle-bound men were usually cast as mighty heroes (although as Movie Bob has mentioned in his review of The Expendables, action movies got better with professional actors learning how to fight than just cast someone who looks good in a tank-top) but Hemsworth really does buff up for the role and dons the costume well. Anthony Hopkins redeems himself from being in some poor choice of films (The Wolfman and The Rite), retaining his authoritative presence and stature. His Odin is more a shouting leader but not nearly as annoyingly obnoxious than Leonidis in 300. Tom Hiddleston as Loki is superb, a villain who’s sympathetic and quite complex. The reveal makes you understand his frustration, and causes interesting family drama. Natalie Portman is sweet and affecting as Jane Foster, although he character isn’t anymore than being Thor’s love interest but you believe she’d be falling off her heels with a charming person as Thor. The biggest controversy is Idris Elba as Heimdall, simply because the character he plays is originally caucasian but Elba is a very talented actor (see The Wire for proof) and even a short role in this film, he makes a huge presence. Unfortunately not everyone has been given a great deal of screen-time, a common case in films based on comic books (only Christopher Nolan’s Batman films; Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, were able to give everyone an equal amount). Renne Russo, who hasn’t been in anything for the past six years, stars as Thor’s mother, Frigga (yes, it’s a bit silly) but she barely gets any screen-time that you’re wondering if it has been left on the cutting room floor.

The design of Asgard really impressed me, creating this fantasy world that its only limit can be from someone’s imagination. The world is magical and full of wonder, I absolutely love any type of mythology and Kenneth Branagh has done a wonderful job on creating Asgard on an epic scale (as it should be!). The costumes could’ve brought down the whole film, as looking at people in costumes of any kind could make people sniggering but it all works! Thor’s costume mostly resembles both the classic and modern design of Thor in the comics. You can see why Branagh was hired to the project, bringing that theatrical sophistication into the story and look itself. The story is very basic, but doesn’t fall short on spectacle, humour and light-hearted fun! The only complaint I’d make is Thor’s banishment is quite brief, and doesn’t feel he’s learnt a whole great deal or, if he did, it certainly didn’t show it. Again, something I’d like to see if they release an extended cut of the film (only time will tell).

Overall; a great start of the blockbuster season of 2011, both Marvel and Branagh should be applauded on adapting Thor well on-screen. Both Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston will become instant stars, and will looking forward to see them both in The Avengers. Next up, The First Avenger: Captain America!

4 out of 5 stars!

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