Based on the Marvel Comics character, Thor, the future king of the legendary realm of Asgard and its most powerful warrior, finds himself stripped of his “God of Thunder” powers and exiled to earth after his arrogance leads his realm into a new war with some very old and very powerful enemies.
What we thought
Thor marks the beginning of what is to be an onslaught on big superhero movies to take us through to the end of 2012 and beyond. Green Lantern, Captain America, reboots of Superman, X-Men and Spider-man and, most excitingly, Joss Whedon's Avengers and the final part of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy are all sure to be big box office draws over the next couple of years.
For me though, Thor always seemed like the odd man out. Despite being a fairly popular Marvel character and a creation of legendary comics creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, I have simply never had much more than a passing interest in the character. The good news then is that, though it's far from a perfect film, Thor actually made me like the title character more than I ever thought possible while setting a pretty high bar of quality for those other superhero films to match.
Certain early reviews have given the impression that Thor is a film that is pretty much free of flaws. It isn't. The film splits its time between being a fish-out-of-water tale set on Earth and an epic fantasy set on the majestic vistas of Asgard and though I have few complaints about the former, the latter aspects of the film are occasionally too overwrought for their own good.
Asgard itself is an incredible CGI creation being a fantastic mix of psychedelic science and traditional fantasy elements and the parts of the story that are set there have the feel of a classic Greek tragedy. At the same time though, the CGI does at times feel a bit overdone and the epic fantasy elements occasionally tip into cheesiness.
The earth-bound parts, on the other hand, may seem far more ordinary but are actually much more satisfying. Looser, funnier and more enjoyable than anything set on Asgard, the scenes set on earth are also far more relatable as we see the title character seeking redemption, thus becoming wiser and more human in the process.
The supporting cast are generally very impressive but however much I enjoyed the work done by Anthony Hopkins and Idris Elba during the Asgard-set portions, it is the supporting cast on earth that most impress. Natalie Portman is typically fantastic as Jane Foster, the plucky, (obviously) beautiful scientist who is to be Thor's love interest and Stellan Skarsgard brings all his usual dramatic Nordic weight to his role. Best of all though is Kat Dennings as Portman and Skarsgard's characters' dryly hilarious research assistant.
The true star of the film though is, fittingly, Chris Hemsworth as Thor himself. Not only is the character very well written, Hemsworth simply kills it in the role. In his hands, Thor is a haughty, arrogant and confident creation but one that is immensely likeable, sympathetic and honourable at the same time. Plus he handles the comedy aspects of the film brilliantly – including some very nicely played slapstick.
Thor is a very good superhero blockbuster that promises even better sequels but keep a special eye out for Hemsworth: the dude is going to be HUGE.