PLOT: Arrogant warrior Thor (Chris Hemsworth), heir to the throne of Asgard, is cast out of his realm by his father, King Odin (Anthony Hopkins). He's banished to Earth, where he meets a young physicist, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). While getting used to his new earthly surroundings, his duplicitous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), now King of Asgard, puts a plan in motion to ensure his brother never returns to claim his rightful throne.
REVIEW: THOR is everything you could possibly want from a summer superhero movie. It's slickly directed, sharply written (with a surprising dose of humor injected) well acted by a fresh young cast, and most importantly, a total blast to watch.
Not being much of a comics guy, I had very little awareness of the THOR mythology walking in, but I've been a devoted viewer of the Marvel films since they were kicked off with IRON MAN.
My big complaint about IRON MAN 2 was that it felt pre-occupied with building up to THE AVENGERS, rather than being a solid IRON MAN film. Luckily, the good folks at Marvel seem to have learned from their mistake. To be sure, there's a lot of teasers and hints dropped throughout the film, and I have no doubt the events of THOR lead right into THE AVENGERS, but nevertheless, it's first and foremost a THOR movie, and an AVENGERS film second.
THOR kicks off on Asgard, with us being introduced to our arrogant hero, and his merry band of comrades, Lady Sif, & The Warrior's 3. I knew right off the bat that THOR was going to be exactly my idea of a good time, with the swashbuckling action being perfectly handled by Kenneth Branagh, who's proven to be a great choice to bring THOR to the big-screen. The chemistry between Thor, and his comrades is perfect, with each, despite limited screen-time, establishing themselves perfectly. For me, a special highlight was Josh Dallas, as the Errol Flynn-like Fandral, and Ray Stevenson, showing a flair for comedy as the glutenous Volstagg (the Porthos of the gang, which makes sense, as Stevenson actually IS Porthos in the new THREE MUSKETEERS movie coming out in a few months).
Once we get to Earth, THOR slows down a bit. Instead of bombarding the audience with more action, THOR almost becomes a fish-out-of-water comedy, with a good helping of romance thrown in. Imagine a superhero version of CROCODILE DUNDEE if you will. It's in these scenes where Hemsworth proves himself to have been an inspired choice to play Thor, with his comic timing being impeccable, and his chemistry with co-star Natalie Portman, strong. For Portman, this is a bit of a throw-away role compared to BLACK SWAN, but she gets enough good material to make it a worthwhile part.
After another half hour or so of character building, we're thrown right back into the action, with the villainous Loki (played by a menacing Tom Hiddleston, who'll be a major part of THE AVENGERS) sending an Asgardian robot to Earth to kill Thor. It all leads up to a climactic battle on Asgard, and it's rollicking good stuff. It runs a lean 112 minutes, which means it's not quite epic, but extremely fast-paced (without feeling too rushed mind you). Granted, some of the actors, like Rene Russo as Thor's mum, or Idris Elba, get limited screen time, but I imagine they'll be back in future THOR films. The film really revolves around Thor and Loki, which is as it should be. Anthony Hopkins is also quite good as Odin, with him playing it like Shakespeare (another reason Branagh was an ace choice). Another, less heralded, but quite effective aspect of THOR is the excellent score by Branagh regular, Patrick Doyle, which is without a doubt the best music we've had in a Marvel movie yet. He should definitely be brought back for THE AVENGERS.
My only problem with THOR was, once again, sub-par 3D. Obviously, this is another post-conversion job, and the 3D effects are lame. Worse, many of the nighttime scenes have not been color-graded for 3D, making them tough to decipher. This is one film where audiences would be well advised to opt for 2D if available.
Other than that, THOR's pretty much a perfect piece of summer fun, and has made me eager to see CAPTAIN AMERICA and THE AVENGERS. Of course, being part of the Marvel Universe, you should expect a couple of fun cameos. And- don't even think about leaving while the credits are rolling. Your patience will be well-rewarded.
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|Extra Tidbit:||Between this and FAST FIVE, summer of 2011 is off to a great start! Fingers crossed the rest of the blockbusters don't disappoint.|