Our Score: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
In the deserts of New Mexico a team of scientists are searching the skies for a phenomenon that has occurred in the past. Without warning it’s upon them. Speeding away in their all purpose RV they head across the sand. At the sound of “THUD” they stop and climb out, curious as to what they may have hit. Hey…where did that guy come from?
Based on the popular Marvel comic series, “Thor” tells the story of (2) boys, both the son of Odin (Hopkins), who is referred to as “the all-father.” Thor, the older son, is strong and spontaneous while little brother Loki is quiet and reserved. Odin often tells them the story of how their kingdom, Asgard, was once overrun by creatures called Frost Giants, huge beings who turned anything in their way into ice. Odin helped defeat them and has forged a peace between himself and the Frost Giant king. Now a young man, Thor (Hemsworth) is about to be named king by his father. However, his arrogance towards the Frost Giants leads Odin to cast him out of Asgard down to Earth. “THUD.”
Smartly written and skillfully directed, “Thor” is my surprise movie of the year. I have to admit that I wasn’t impressed with the trailers I’d seen, and the choice of Branagh as director seemed puzzling. But the story here is almost Shakespearean. A family torn apart, war, betrayal…these are all things the Bard wrote about and who better then the classically trained Branagh to help bring the story to the screen.
Ever since the first “X-men” film in 2000, the so called “comic book” movie has boasted great production design and strong actors. Hemsworth is well suited as Thor, a role that even 15 years ago would have probably gone to Brian Bosworth. His swagger is much appreciated when he’s the big hammer wielding cheese in Asgard but it’s his more subdued time on Earth that makes you care about his character. Oscar winners Hopkins and Portman are equally strong, as are Tom Hiddleston (Loki as an adult), Clark Gregg (the mysterious SHIELD agent) and Stellan Skarsgard as a scientist partner of Portmans.
The visual effects are well crafted, especially when Thor starts swinging Mjolnir around (for those of you not familiar with your Norse legends, Mjolnir is the name of Thor’s hammer). The 3-D effects are ok, but I don’t think you’d be missing anything if you saw it in the regular format. Again, in my mind converted 3-D is pretty much a waste of time. The script is smartly written with the occasional tip of the hat to other members of the Marvel universe. And, as with all of the recent Marvel comic book films, I urge you to stick around through the credits for the next piece in what is becoming an “Avenger” puzzle!