Sunday, May 8, 2011

Movie Review: Thor

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth).
THOR (2011)
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgard, Colm Feore and Anthony Hopkins

Thor is the god of thunder and, for those uninitiated (like myself) in the adventures of this lesser-known Marvel comics hero, this Norse deity apparently has a huge cult following. Wielding a powerful hammer called Mjlonir (which, oddly enough, resembles a giant meat tenderizer), Thor, as a character, is a balanced mix of hot-headed temper, arrogance and brooding charm, which are all "must have" qualities when it comes to Marvel action heroes.

Thor takes the age-old tale of sibling rivalry and ups the ante. Thor (Aussie newcomer, Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) live in a kingdom in the sky called Asgard, where they have been raised by their father, King Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and mother, Frigga (Rene Russo, who has apparently returned to acting after a long absence). The relationship between the seemingly close brothers begins to fray when Odin proclaims Thor as his heir. When the coronation ceremony is interrupted by the Frost Giants, led by the red-eyed Laufey (Colm Feore, buried beneath layers of make-up), Thor goes against his father's wishes and leads his band of loyal friends in avenging the attack. Odin is outraged at Thor's rash actions and banishes his son from Asgard. Thor is ultimately reduced to nothing -- his power gone, his beloved hammer, Mjlonir, missing -- and is left to fend for himself on Earth, a planet he is unfamiliar with. He accidentally meets up with a group of skywatching scientists: cosmologist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Swedish scientist Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and their student intern, Darcy (Kat Dennings). They struggle to come to terms with what Thor is, while trying to help him return to Asgard and prevent Loki from taking over the throne.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Jane (Natalie Portman).
Despite the fact that there are six screenwriters credited (usually a bad sign), Thor is, surprisingly, a structured, cohesive narrative -- a rarity for films of this genre. With a running time of less than two hours, it manages to give you all the background information you need on Thor and his supernatural family, while spending just the right amount of time on Earth as he gets to know his new human companions. If there is one complaint, it'd be the lack of more interaction between Thor and his brother, Loki, before the former is banished to Earth. It would have made their eventual fall-out all the more poignant.

Under the steady and assured direction of Shakespearean vet Kenneth Branagh, Thor has a great international cast to rely on -- from Australia, England, United States, Sweden and Canada.

As Thor, Hemsworth has the same roguish charm as Harrison Ford or, more recently, Chris Pine in Star Trek (2009). With great comic timing and the ability to cry on cue, Hemsworth proves he's more than just a pretty face. Thor has given him a promising start to a career in Hollywood. The rest of the cast rallies around him, each giving a performance that is more than a comic book adaptation usually deserves. As the trio of scientists, Portman, Skarsgard and Dennings are all talented actors who make the most of their supporting (and underwritten) roles. Their camaraderie and chemistry with one another makes up for their odd little trio. Hopkins is perfect as King Odin -- a measured mix of menace and fatherly affection. Hiddleston is excellent as the scheming and mischievous Loki, a reluctant villain made to turn to the dark side by unfortunate life circumstances and devastating revelations about his past.

Thor is that rare summer blockbuster that is genuinely enjoyable both for its entertaining story and solid cast -- it brings to mind the recent Star Trek reboot. If Thor is any indication, this years crop of summer films are off to a promising start.



  1. I am going to see this one soon hopefully, and good to see more positive reviews. Great work!

  2. I thought Thor was very good as well.

  3. @Matt: Yeah, the majority of the feedback seems to be positive, so I can't imagine anyone seriously disliking it!

    @Yong: Did you write a review? I'll check it out!

  4. Everyone seems to be pleasantly surprised by this film! It's funny that you made the comparisons to Chris Pine and Star Trek, since Chris H. had a brief appearance in that film as Kirk's father.

  5. B+ seems to be the going rating around blogosphere. I thought it was neither here nor there quality wise. Enjoyable in a no thinker type of way.
    Funny, I didn't get the impression this was the type of movie you would venture out to see!!!

  6. Huh, I'm reading nothing but positive reviews for this film, including from bloggers I trust. For the longest time I had absolutely zero interest in this movie. 'Maybe' I'm turning around now.

  7. @Meg: Oh yeah! I forgot all about that.

    @Brent: It was enjoyable and better than most movies of that genre. I didn't want to see it but my friend really did and I had a free pass so I gave in! haha.

    @Edgar: I had no interest in seeing it either which may go a long way towards explaining why I was so pleasantly surprised. I had zero expectations and knew nothing about the comics so I could just enjoy it for what it was.

  8. @Edgar: I had no interest in this, watched it anyway and found that it was just a big old CG mess with a lopsided plot and ropey acting. I realise I'm weeing in the wind on this one though, as everybody else seems to love it!

    Nonetheless - excellent review.

  9. Nice review, and thanks for following my blog!

    I haven't seen thsi film yet, but I must admit I'm also surprised by all the positive reviews, I might actually give it a watch now...

  10. @Multiplex Slut: haha! Thanks. Did you write a review for it? I'd love to read it. As you said, there haven't been that many negative reviews so I'd love to see your comments. :)

    @Edgar: Now that likely confused you even more about whether or not you'd like to see it! ;)

    @Jack: Of course! For some reason I thought I was following your blog, so I was surprised when I wasn't. Sorry about that. I look forward to reading your reviews. For the type of movie Thor is, it's good -- a strong film for the comic book adaptation genre.

  11. What a great movie. It’s new and unique – the perfect way to start off the summer. Hemsworth has definitely made a name for himself, can’t wait to see what Hollywood has planned for him next.

  12. @Multiplex Slut: Thanks! lol.

    @Jack: For some reason I thought I was already following your blog and I was surprised to notice that I wasn't. Sorry about that! Let me know if you wind up watching Thor!

  13. I enjoyed the film as well. I only wish it had been longer! So many plot points, so many characters. Felt like 2 hours passed in the blink of an eye, which is a wonderful quality for any fantasy film.

  14. Great rating system :) I thought Thor was a pretty good film too. Nice review.

  15. This film not only represented, but represents to this day, the very best of what it means to be a sci-fi epic. Though revolutionary in the realm of special effects, groundbreaking in other areas and breathtakingly creative, it does not rely solely on its original themes or new quirks to achieve acclaim, as many "good" sci-fi films do. This film, combines the best of science fiction with a story and a spirit that has meaning-- an underdog struggle, a coming of age tale, a morality play, behind an incredibly rich backdrop and a timeless cast of characters that fits it perfectly.