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Thor (2011) - MCU Retro Review

04.10.2018

Heading into the final few chapters of Marvel's Phase 3 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we decided it was time to take a look back at the last ten years worth of films (18 in all) and re-evaluate them based on how well they hold up today and how connected they are to the greater MCU now that the films have advanced so far into the timeline, which culminates in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and it's untitled sequel. Are they as good as you remember? Do they still hold up today? Are the deeper MCU connections even deeper than before or weaker? Join us as we attempt to answer those questions and take another look at the last decade of Marvel Studios with our Retro-Review Series!

DIRECTED BY: Kenneth Branagh

WRITTEN BY: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne and J. Michael Straczynski & Mark Protosevich

STARRING: Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Natalie Portman (Jane Fisher), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Anthony Hopkins (Odin), Stellan Skarsgard (Erik Selvig) Kat Dennings (Darcy Lewis), Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson), Maximiliano Hernández (Agent Sitwell), Colm Feore (King Laufey), Iris Elba (Heimdall), Ray Stevenson (Volstagg), Jaimie Alexander (Sif), Rene Russo (Frigga), Josh Dallas (Fandral), Tadanobu Asano (Hogun)

STORY: After the arrogant and aggressive god Thor is cast out of his home of Asgard, he is forced to live powerless with the humans here on Earth. However, while he is left without his strength and his iconic hammer, his jealousy fueled adopted brother Loki seizes the moment to take over the kingdom by betraying his father Odin, and making a pact with their enemy, the Frost Giants led by King Laufey. Meanwhile, stuck on Earth, Thor finds a little help to regain his power thanks to scientist Jane Foster and her team.

I’ve come across more than a few MCU fans that seem to like the THOR movies the least. For me however, the perfect mix of brawn and humor that Chris Hemsworth gives the character, as well as the fantastic Tom Hiddleston as Loki - arguably the best villain that the MCU has given us - hit the right note. Either way, I’ve always been a fan of THOR and the characters connected to him. And while it has been awhile since I’ve sat down with the first film, I was curious to see how it would hold up all these years later. For the most part, this larger-than-life adventure feels a little bit smaller than my memory serves.

Much of the early appeal for me was the choice of Kenneth Branagh as the director to try his hand at THOR. Considering the filmmakers background in lavish Shakespearean productions like HAMLET, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING and HENRY V. He was a good choice. And yes, you can see the filmmaker’s classical ties with this, especially all the sequences that take place on Asgard. You have the father and son conflict, and you have the duality of the jealous Loki. Branagh tackles the themes here like he would if he were taking on The Bard.

As good as Branagh’s work is, there is a bit of a tonal shift when it comes to everything that happens on Earth, as opposed to the grandiose world of Asgard. To put it in Shakespearean terms, Earth feels more like one of the classic playwrights comedic entries (such as Twelfth Night) and Asgard is far more epic in scope, something perhaps more akin to HAMLET. To that end, the movie drags a bit when it hits close to home. Yet I did appreciate much of the fish out of water humor than came from Thor trying to figure out what it is like to be powerless. You could probably credit quite a bit of that to Hemsworth’s impressive work as the title character.

Aside from both Hemsworth and Hiddleston, the rest of the cast fairs well for the most part. Portman is fine as Jane Foster, even though she didn’t have much to do. I had a little more fun with both Skarsgard and Dennings, both of whom add a ton of comedy to the proceedings. When it comes to Asgard, you have the excellent Hopkins who is commanding as Odin, and Rene Russo who gives Odin’s wife Frigga a quiet strength. You also have a few standouts including Jaimie Alexander as Sif, Ray Stevenson as Volstagg, Colm Feore as King Laufey and of course Idris Elba as Heimdall. 

THOR still holds up. There is certainly a slight difference with the world of Thor we are seeing now with THOR: RAGNAROK, simply because we see the god powerless, with only his wit and brute strength to get along. Clearly they didn’t have the budget back then that the films have now, so you can tell that the filmmakers must have had to limit the explosive action sequences. Yet an early scene where Thor lashes out at the Frost Giants against his father's order is visually impressive. And of course, Asgard is an astounding creation. All of that still blows me away. While the advancement of technology has certainly improved since IRON MAN, the VFX here works quite well, and rather sparingly considering what these movies have become.

You can credit the success of bringing this character to life to Branagh, but it would be hard to imaging anyone other than Hemsworth or Hiddleston taking on these roles. This may not be the finest that the Marvel Universe has to offer, but it is certainly still an enjoyable introduction to a terrific character.

READ THE ORIGINAL THEATRICAL REVIEW!

 

One of the most impressive things about THOR is Asgard itself. The introduction to Asgard is absolutely stunning, as well as Bifrost - the bridge that connects Asgard to the rest of humanity. The ultimate break of that bridge is a thrilling display.

I enjoyed the early battle with the Frost Giants. As Thor and his gang attempt to punish the monsters for an attack on Asgard, they face an astounding number of enemies ready to tear them down. When Odin ultimately arrives, it is absolutely impressive. The scene carries a surprising amount of heft emotionally as well as being an action set piece.

When Thor finally begins to settle in with Jane and her friends, one of the most hilarious moments is when he discovers he needs “sustenance.” This leads to a very entertaining scene in a diner where he makes an engaging ass of himself.

Loki!! This is a great introduction to a villain, and as I previously mentioned, he is my favorite in the MCU. Tom Hiddleston didn’t get to have as much fun with the character as he does in THE AVENGERS perhaps, but he still has a few great moments to taunt his more respected sibling. The ultimate fight between Loki and Thor works on both an emotional level as well as an action level, especially the final image of the two fighting on the Bifrost.

 

Thor: [taking coffee for the first time] This drink... I like it!

Darcy: I know, it's great right?

Thor: ANOTHER!

Thor: [throws the mug on the floor and shatters it]

 

Agent Cale: [staring at The Destroyer] Is that one of Stark's?

Agent Coulson: I don't know. Guy never tells me anything.

 

Thor: [walking into a pet shop] I need a horse!

Pet Store Clerk: We don't have horses. Just dogs, cats, birds.

Thor: Then give me one of those large enough to ride.

 

Clint Barton: You better call it Coulson, 'cause I'm starting to root for this guy.

 

Clint Barton: Do you want me to take him down, or would you rather send in more guys for him to beat up?

 

Jane Foster: So is this how you normally look?

Thor: More or less.

Jane Foster: It's a good look!

 

Odin: [enchants Mjolnir] Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of THOR!

[hurls Mjolnir after Thor]

 

The post-credits scene shot for IRON MAN 2 is the scene in THOR where Phil Coulson arrives at the site where Mjolnir is found.

When SHIELD Agent Cale sees the Destroyer, he asks Agent Coulson if it is a new Stark weapon - you can see Coulson’s reply above in the best lines section.

There is a reference to the Tesseract from CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, which of course has made a numerous appearances in the MCU.

Dr. Selvig mentions Bruce Banner/Hulk by saying he was as expert in gamma radiation who was never heard from again after being approached by SHIELD.

Agent Sitwell appears along with Agent Coulson. Sitwell would later play a key role in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER.

The jacket that Jane Foster hands Thor, saying that it’s her ex-boyfriend, has the name “Donald Blake” on the tag. That is the same name that Thor took to be a normal citizen in the comics.

Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) is back, this time investigating the strange disturbance Thor and his hammer made when he fell to Earth.

This is the first appearance of Loki, as played by Tom Hiddleston. Loki would go on to be in all THOR sequels, THE AVENGERS and will be seen again in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR.

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) shows up in the end credits scene to speak with Dr. Selvig.

Stan Lee tries his hand at grabbing the famed hammer by driving a pick-up truck, one he hopes to pull out the hammer by towing it... good luck with that one.

Clint Barton/Hawkeye offers one of my favorite cameos in the film. Give Jeremy Renner a couple of fun lines and go with it, and we get an early look at the duality of his role in the Avengers.

The Warriors Three (Ray Stevenson, Josh Dallas and Tadanobu Asano) all make their first appearance in the MCU, along with Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander), who would appear in THOR: THE DARK WORLD as well as a few episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

Loki is fantastic. While Tom Hiddleston isn’t allowed the chance to get as wildly outrageous as he does in future films, he is the perfect mix of menace, humor and sympathetic victim that makes this all the more fun and the reason that he continues to be the MCU's best villain to date.

And then there is The Destroyer, an automated Asgardian weapon that is ultimately used against Thor himself, after Loki takes control of the Asgard and sends this automated beast to go after Thor, Jane and Dr. Selvig. 

Laufey (Colm Feore) is the ruler of the Frost Giants, and we soon find out that he also happens to be Loki’s biological father. However, Loki isn’t the most loyal of children to his newly discovered real life father.


  

IRON MAN - RETRO REVIEW

INCREDIBLE HULK - RETRO REVIEW

IRON MAN 2 - RETRO REVIEW

 

Source: JoBlo.com

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