Film Review: Thor


This is certainly a unique addition to the Marvel Studios film universe. Kenneth Branagh‘s film is one of the most aesthetically exquisite superhero films I have ever seen.

While measuring atmospheric phenomena in New Mexico, Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her companions Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings–little more than comic relief) literally run into the newly banished Norse god Thor (Chris Hemsworth) after his banishment from Asgard. Then we jump back to 965 A.D. Odin and the gods are in the midst of battling the Frost Giants. The Asgardians win and in the present day an uneasy truce between Asgard and Jotunheim (the Frost Giants’ home world) is broken by a raiding party forcing its way into Asgard. Just as Thor is about to accept the kingship from his father Odin, he defies Odin’s orders to confront Laufey, king of the Frost Giants, in order to make his name by teaching his enemies a lesson. Thor is proud, arrogant, headstrong, not truly fit to rule a realm. Because of his defiance, which almost cost the lives of his companions Sif, Volstagg, Fandral, and Hogun, Odin exiles him to Earth to live as a mortal and to learn what it means to be a king.

Thor falls to Earth, along with his hammer Mjolnir, where he meets Jane and company. He seeks his hammer, but cannot wield it, or even lift it as he once did, as he does not possess the inner character to properly use it. Meanwhile, S.H.I.E.L.D. has appropriated all of Jane’s research and have quarantined the hammer of Thor–where we get a cameo of the Avenger named Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner. While Thor attempts to retrieve his hammer, his brother Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) loyalties become ambiguous as he takes control of Asgard while Odin falls ill. After a very Christ-like moment, Thor solidifies his inner character and is able to return to Asgard to remove his tyrant, destroying the Bifrost Bridge that links the nine realms and allowed him to travel to Earth. Loki disappears and all returns to normal in Asgard, though Thor is cut off from the Earth and Jane for the time being.

Loki is one of the more ambiguous villains in the Marvel film universe. I’m not as familiar with the Thor comics, having really only read some of the recent J. Michael Straczynski-penned volumes, which I really enjoyed, but Loki’s motivations seem hard to pin down. He’s closer to the Joker, working only for himself, though still trying to earn the approval of his father. I’d have liked a stronger character arc from him, as he’s a bit erratic. However, he has an interesting moment in the post-credits scene (now a staple in these Marvel films) where he seems to have developed into an overarching villain, influencing some events, and I hear rumors that he will appear in further films, just as Thor will appear again in The Avengers.

Chris Hemsworth proves that he can act just as well as he can wield a hammer, delivering a complex performance, filled with wit, strength, and sensitivity, with some well-choreographed action scenes throughout. Natalie Portman, while she does not display the brilliance of Black Swan–this film is no Black Swan–and she plays it rather funny, like a bumbling, absent-minded professor. And honestly, who but Anthony Hopkins could play Odin? I felt bad for Renee Russo, who has a grand total of 1 line in the film. Really? Why? Was she just a pretty face?

All in all, I’m happy to have this new piece of The Avengers picture. It’s a fun film, really enjoyable, and cinematically and technically superb. I also have to add my praise for Patrick Doyle’s composition; this is another in a long line of stunning film scores, and another collaboration between Branagh and Doyle.

See the film, enjoy it. It’s not as great as the Iron Man films, but it’s still well worth the price of admission. I may even see it again when it goes to the cheaper cinemas.

4 out of 5 stars

For a history of the Thor Marvel comics, look here: http://marvel.com/universe/Thor_(Thor_Odinson)

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8 thoughts on “Film Review: Thor

  1. 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!

  2. So I have to say that I really REALLY enjoyed Thor. I walked into with low expectations and saw a matinee so that I took some pressure off of the film:-)

    I really can’t find any fault with it at all. Aesthetically, it was beautiful and I felt the CGI was seamless. I LOVED the Frost Giants and thought they wonderfully brought to life. The script was well written and there was just enough exposition to inform the viewer of the Thor background without feeling bogged down by it.

    I will disagree with you slightly on the character of Loki as I found him to be brilliantly portrayed! What a wonderful complex character who ranks right up there with Magneto for me. Yeah, I said it! Loki, obs the god of mischief and I felt that he was played and written with perfection. He never became outlandish with his trickery and manipulation. His actions were grounded in truth and he was a shrewd judge of character. At the heart of him (and I won’t go into his origin story for readers who may not know) is just a lost little boy who wants his father’s approval and is competing with Thor to get it. Holy Hell! I feel inadequate next to Thor! Loki is one of those villains who I feel is driven by very human motivations is compelling precisely due to his ambiguity.

    At times, I felt Tom Middleston’s performance as Loki overshadowed Thor for me. Also, IGN ranked Loki as the number 8 villain of all time: http://comics.ign.com/top-100-villains/8.html

    As for Chris Hemsworth, he did exactly what he needed to for Thor but I guess for me, Thor is the less interesting character.

    The cast was perfect! The score was perfect!

    I also enjoyed that the movie did not dumb down the females in the film or relegate them to eye candy as is so often the case in comic book films. The Thor/Jane relationship felt natural and the female warrior was a friend, not a jealous b* which was nice. In fact the only person objectified in the film was Chris Hemsworth as Thor, which if I looked like that I would buy my frozen groceries in the nude. Just sayin’.

    I was impressed with Kenneth Branagh as a director and really found no fault with the film whatsoever. More and more, however, I am absolutely falling in love with Norse Mythology. In fact, this film may have prompted me to pick up Neil Gaiman’s “Odd and the Frost Giants” for a quick Norse fix:-)

    Enjoyed the review!

    Thanks for posting!

    BD

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