Packed with action and humor with strong characterization, good special fx and a healthy dose of heart, Kenneth Branagh’s THOR is the best comic book movie I’ve seen in ages and destined to continue steadily earning boxoffice $s throughout the summer.
Chris Hemsworth is terrific in the title role, a god banished to mortal on a strange planet, trying to figure out who he is and where he belongs. Starting out arrogant and self-sure, Thor’s transformation to a new form of confidence is a journey many will relate to. At first, a fish out of water determined that his power and status still entitle him to whatever he demands, Thor quickly comes to realize his power and status mean little to the scientists who’ve discovered him in the New Mexico desert. As he uncovers their world and begins coming to terms with his mortality, he’s further discouraged by his failure to reclaim his hammer from Federal custody and restore the confiscated scientific equipment and data of his rescuers. Then his brother, Loki, played will by Tom Hiddleston, arrives to inform him the banishment is permanent, and Thor comes face to face with the reality his life will never be the same.
The characters are well drawn and used to full effect for both humor and humanness. Thor’s friends and their banter are both amusing and character building, and, along with the Earth characters, particularly the scientists played by Stellan Skarsgard and Natalie Portman, take what could have easily devolved into silliness and elevate it into a worth drama about coming of age, self-discovery, and family conflict. Throw in good special effects, plausible science mixed with magic (Magic is science we just don’t understand yet), and you have a very entertaining, crowd pleasing film.
The first 30 minutes was one of the best film openings to an action movie I’ve seen in the past decade–packed with action and good character development, it sets up the story and our players with a strong foundation which carries the rest of the film.
It was fun to see Rene Russo back in action film mode, however brief and small her part, and Anthony Hopkins made the most of his role as well. Idris Elba as Heimdall, the bridge guard also stood out to me and Jaime Alexander as warrior Sif added a touch of Xena to the proceedings, countering the damsel in distress heroine played by Portman. There’s room for strong women in more than one level in this franchise and that news bodes well for female filmgoers.
Unfamiliar with the THOR story, as I am not a huge comics fan, the movie sold me enough to make me want to go back and read the comics and the legends behind them. It will be fun to see what they do with further films in the franchise, including THE AVENGERS, which is due to arrive before another THOR.
Recommended to fans of all genres. A truly worthwhile afternoon at the cinema.