Movie review – Thor

2011-04-29 15:54

This year’s blockbuster season has officially gotten off to a thunderous start with the coming of the Norse god-slash-comic book hero Thor.
Starring the latest gorgeous soap star from Australia, Chris Hemsworth, Thor is a celebration of all the wonderful stuff filmmakers can do these days.

It is yet another film in 3D, which always seems a little more relevant in an action film, though I don’t think it really matters whether you see this in two or three dimensions – it’ll be good fun either way.

With British actor and director Kenneth Branagh at the helm there was always the danger that he would allow his penchant for overblown films to come into play?– but he has resisted and instead made what the Friday night popcorn-munching crowd want.

Though you could argue that his Shakespearean bent stands him in good stead when dealing with the machinations of Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and the rocky father-son relationship both have with their über-god dad, Odin (Anthony Hopkins).

Thor is a world away from Branagh’s directorial experience yet with the help of a strong, mostly British cast, he has pulled off a box-office hit?– something that will be new to the man who made the longest version of Hamlet ever committed to screen.

Heading up the cast is Hopkins as Asgard’s big man Odin, while Rene Russo has little to do as his wife Freye and Hiddleston is suitably devious as malicious trickster Loki.

The human contingent is headed up by recent Oscar-winner Natalie Portman, who is Jane Foster, the astro-physicist whom Thor falls for when he is banished to Earth.

The film more or less follows the Marvel comic book version of the Norse gods: they are beings from another realm who were worshipped by the primitive Vikings because of their superior firepower and because they protected the people from death at the hands of the Frost army. There are nine realms, Earth being one and Asgard being another.

When the truce between Asgard and the Frost army (another realm) is broken, an arrogant, aggressive Thor attacks them provoking his father’s anger and ending in his banishment to Earth. But his father is not without mercy and sends Thor’s hammer to Earth too, but he makes it as immovable as Excalibur for any unworthy man. Of course, Thor is unworthy until he has learned a few lessons about humility and leadership.
Though Hemsworth had a small part in the remake of Star Trek, I wager it’ll be with his beefy, golden-locked turn as the hammer-wielding god of thunder that he’ll smash his way into the collective consciousness of moviegoers everywhere.

The film is an introduction to another of Stan Lee’s Marvelous creations and also lays more of the groundwork for next year’s super-duper superhero movie – The Avengers.

Featuring, among others, The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Thor (Hemsworth) and Captain America, whose movie starring Chris Evans comes later this blockbuster ­season, it’s like a licence to print money for Hollywood so long as the fanboys go for it.

Branagh seems to have found the perfect blend of drama, action and fantasy, with a lot of help from the creators and the screenwriters, who between them have an impressive résumé of superhero and sci-fi scripts from The Fantastic Four to X-Men: First Class (coming later this month) and TV series such as Babylon 5 and Andromeda.

Having created the perfect storm of filmmaking, Thor is likely to strike box-office gold worldwide. I hope so, because I’d like to see a sequel over and above 2012’s Avengers film.

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