The Marvel universe continues its expanse as Thor plunders into theaters. The god of thunder comes from Shakespearean-auteur Kenneth Branagh who blends dynamics of action and character to create one of the better superhero thrill rides this side of The Dark Knight.
Riding the lightning as the title character is Chris Hemsworth in his first major leading role, and I must say, like Downey of Iron Man, the lead actor makes the movie. Hemsworth owns the character, he owns the film, and he will surely own this franchise. Balancing out the silliness of the plot and otherworldly English of proper, Branagh’s newfound star plays Thor, the son of King Odin (Anthony Hopkins)—ruler of the Asgard realm. About to be named heir to the throne during a planetary ceremony, the walls of Asgard are breached by enemies of another world. Luckily the mighty fortress is protected, but Thor isn’t satisfied. Egged on by his younger brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor becomes impassioned with delivering the intruders a message and sends out with a group of warrior pals to meet his foes at their doorstep which ignites a war of the worlds. Thor and his comrades are vastly outnumbered as King Odin comes to the rescue. Aggravated with his son’s arrogance and recklessness, Odin strips Thor of his metaphysical abilities and casts him out to Earth along with his powerless weapon of choice—the mighty hammer.
Now stranded on Earth, the mighty warrior enters the lives of a team of physicists led by Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), dodging SHIELD authorities in the process. There’s a lot of hooey talk of portals and disturbances in the upper atmosphere as the studio is desperate to explain the existence of Thor from a scientific perspective—mainly to tie him in with the ‘Earth-bound’ avengers Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and others. Once Jane accepts her discovery of a chiseled slab of man as a warrior god, Thor’s jealous younger brother no sooner sends enemies to Earth to erase the existence of his stranded sibling once and for all.
As a studio tentpole and comic-book adaptation, Thor is far better than anything we would’ve seen ten years ago. Writers have been approaching this material with earnestness and passion, determined to deliver first-rate products. Because of this, audiences have been spoiled with such impressive offerings as the first Iron Man, the new Batman films, Spider-Man 2 and X-Men 2, that we sort of forget that these movies can’t all necessarily be A+ features. Thor, however, is more in line with the latest trend of quality superhero films than other stink piles of recent memory (Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Elektra, X-Men Origins: Wolverine).
Special Effects and action can be hit-or-miss as far as first-rate techs go, but the sequences are consistently involving. Thor’s world is particularly designed and detailed, giving us a sense of the character’s background and struggle. The characters are particularly well-developed, especially those occupying Asgard. The actors do their best to participate in a magnum opus of silliness, with straight faces and a sense of fun at the same time. Thor only seems to come up short when much of the story centers on Asgard rather than forces that threaten our planet. Once the god of thunder finds himself stranded on Earth, his human companions stir up comedy and human interest, but the movie begins to lull periodically. That’s alright with me. Branagh gives his film time to settle down and breathe without relentlessly retreating to attack mode. Since the film is designed to lead straight into The Avengers a year from now, I’m certain Earth will finally see Thor protecting our vulnerable little world to great extent.
As Marvel continues to conjoin these franchises, I’m curious to see how Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and the Hulk survive once the fellowship is broken after Avengers rakes in hundred of millions of dollars. Iron Man 3 is already in the works, as is a sequel to Thor. Luckily, Thor seems to have more story to tell as the character relationships have space to blossom, specifically between Jane and Thor. The filmmakers took notes from the first Iron Man as Stark and Pepper slowly but surely evolved their relationship. Romance and sparks only tease the audience throughout most of Thor‘s first outing, leaving us wanting more. Hemsworth and Portman have plenty of chemistry, and that’s where Branagh succeeds in delivering a superhero film about likable and believable characters amidst an outrageous plot, dorky costumes, and oddball creatures. Forget about the whirlwind of action and useless 3D conversion (yes, skip the 3D). Marvel and Branagh have given us another sensational hero and a major star to fill his shoes. Bring on another round.
Last 5 posts by Matt V
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- Man of Steel - June 19th, 2013
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