Plot: Norse God Thor is cast out from the kingdom of Asgard and sent to Earth where he must battle to save new found love Jane and the rest of humanity from his evil brother Loki.
My thoughts: Since 2008, Marvel has been hard at work, adapting the origins and stories of the super (and not so super) heroes it still owns the rights to (having lost the likes of Spiderman and the Fantastic Four to Sony) all in preparation for the big 2012 event ‘The Avengers’ in which all will be united. Beginning with ‘Iron Man’, the surprisingly gracious yet tech-heavy powerhouse and moving on to the likes of the not-so Incredible Hulk and Iron Man’s less-impressive second outing, we finally land at the most peculiar of the Marvel “heroes”, Thor.
Originally considered to be ‘un-film-able’, the legend charts the story of the Norse God Thor, who finds power in the hammer given to him by his father Odin, only to be banished from the Heavens and forced down to Earth. The sheer scale and mythology behind such a character has never been previously attempted ‘til now. With the sudden thrust towards an Avengers movie, and a lack of other heroes to call upon, ‘Thor’ was fired into production, lead by ambitious Shakespearean actor/director Kenneth Branagh, replacing Matthew Vaughn. And ambitious is what it be.
Portraying the majestic God Thor is little-known Australian beefcake Chris Hemsworth, a likable and suitable choice, both his physique and manly tone dominating the character in both the darkness of battle and the simplicity of romance, also hammering home several well timed jokes. Natalie Portman appears on our screens once again, this time as love-interest Jane, a rather side-lined role but pleasant to watch none-the-less. Anthony Hopkins demands the stage as Odin, King of Asgard and father to Thor and his evil brother Loki, taken in by the not-so-menacing but perversely unsettling Tom Hiddleston. There’s welcome support from Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgard and a rather irritating Kat Dennings who luckily becomes silent half-way in.
Keeping up Marvel appearances appears a doddle for newly christened scribes Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne who thread in the universal jokes and nods subtly and playfully. However, being a part of the Marvel universe does begin to become the downfall of an otherwise entertaining and enjoyable picture. Despite the wondrous scenery (the kingdom of Asgard is truly incredible) and well-structured story, the movie only ever exists as an origin story as lead up to ‘The Avengers’, and because of this, never really fully takes off. Whilst never standing still, each action-scene appears to lead into something more vast and explosive, so when the dramatically climactic finale finally shows up, it is almost completely out of the blue.
Rightfully epic and handled with care, ‘Thor’ never appears silly or at all boring but does carry the welterweight of the Hollywood cliches and obvious predictability. To the untrained eye, this is not obvious however, and so Branagh presents a fiendishly enjoyable installment in the Marvel-verse, possibly the best since Favreau’s first ‘Iron Man’ which so blatantly tows the line for July’s final origin tale ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ and finally, next year’s ‘The Avengers’, helmed by the Lord of cult-fiction Mr Joss Whedon.
As a final note, stay past the rather tedious closing credits to catch another glimpse of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, firing across some possibly major plot points from ‘The Avengers’.