“Thor” is a milestone for Marvel and director Kenneth Branagh. It is the the first comic-based film to truly mix our reality with the mystical world shown in the comics. I was so pleasantly surprised by how well the movie blended the mythology in space and science-fiction on Earth that I thought I had died and gone to Valhalla. The comedy and action work together in the story seamlessly and add a balance to the movie as a whole.
“Thor,” the God of thunder and lightning from Norse mythology, was adapted into comic book form by Stan Lee in 1962. In the nine realms of the universe, there is Asgard, the heavenly realm with the immortal Gods of myth and legends. The king is Odin (Anthony Hopkins), his wife is Frigga (Rene Russo), and their two sons are Thor (Chris Hemsworth) — a strong, proud and slightly-arrogant warrior who is first in line for the throne — and Loki — a mischievous wizard with darker intentions. When Thor defies his father and travels to the realm of the frost giants, he ignites a war between the two worlds. Thor is stripped of his powers and banished to Earth by his father.
On Earth, a mortal Thor runs into astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her collegue Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and their comedic intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) in the middle of the New Mexico desert while they are conducting research. A classic fish-out-of water tale, comedic misunderstandings ensue as he treats every situation as if he was still on Asgard.
Once Thor realizes his magical hammer Mjolnir was cast down to Earth with him, he tries to retrieve it. However, he soon learns that the agency S.H.I.E.L.D. is guarding it and studying it knowing it has some sort of mystical properties. Thor fails in his attempts to retrieve it, and then has a confrontation with agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) who wants to know more. Meanwhile, on Asgard Odin has become weak and has to go into a deep slumber to recuperate. Loki has started plans to take over all the realms and it seems as if no one can stop him now. Thor must change his attitude and mindset in his battle to regain his immortality — but first he must find his humanity.
Chris Hemsworth is a star in waiting and this film is just the vehicle to showcase it. He is perfectly cast as this strong, immortal character. The stature and size he achieved puts other actors to shame. He has truly become the character and after seeing the film, I can’t imagine anyone else in this role. Thor uses his hammer in so many different ways, it would make Stan Lee proud. There have been questions about how they use the hammer and I will say they go all the way to satisfy any fan.
Natalie Portman is the polar opposite of Hemsworth, petite in size and meek in character, she has a subtle role that she portrays in the best way. Kat Dennings is the not-so-subtle comedic relief on Earth, finding every opportunity to interject her wise remarks and comments. She is enjoyable in the role.
There are many otherworldly characters to talk about, starting with Thor’s closest friends and fellow warriors on Asgard: Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Hogun (Tadanobu Asano), Fandral (Josh Dallas) and Sif (Jaimie Alexander). Without going into major detail, the ensemble cast members quickly show us what each character is about and they are a very diverse group. Idris Elba plays the large and domineering Heimdall, the guardian of the gateway between realms. His character is by far my favorite of the supporting members of Asgard.
As Loki, the antagonist of the film, Tom Hiddleston is a multi-dimensional villain who shows the pain behind his actions. It’s not just his need for power that drives him to unleash his nefarious plot. It was nice to have a villain who wasn’t empty in his actions and although you never root for him, you can understand part of his madness. It seems strange to talk of emotional authenticity in the case of a movie like “Thor,” but the actors actually seem involved in the characters and the story.
The design, special effects and look of the movie are amazing to see. The other realms are shown with awe-inspiring epic shots. The golden landscape of Asgardian cities really show you the scope and power of the land in which these immortal figures live. The sound design was superb. The mind-blowing and heart-pounding explosions and action sequences reminded me of moments in “The Dark Knight” or “Inception” and for that reason alone, I would recommend that you see this film in an IMAX theater. The full force and impact of the movie could be inhibited if seen in a less-than-worthy theater. Since the movie wasn’t shot in 3D, I can’t suggest that you see it that way, but you will fully enjoy it without losing anything if you choose to see it in 2D.
At its core, “Thor” is a movie about succession, sibling rivalry and the wisdom one must have to rule and keep peace. Bottom line, this is a really fun movie and the perfect beginning to the summer blockbuster season, setting a new level that all other superhero films will now have to measure up to. It’s completely accessible for those who possess previous knowledge of the characters and those who do not.
“Thor” hammers its way into theaters everywhere May 6. It is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence.
A few little extras: There is an appearance by another member of the Avengers and don’t forget to stay until after the credits, there is a final scene that ties “Thor” fully into the plot of 2012’s “The Avengers.”
. . .
Follow Adam Poynter on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CCWGGuy.
And don’t forget to “Like” It’s Just Movies on Facebook at