I’ve gotta say, I really liked Thor; it was a great way to spend my Tuesday afternoon. Quality, story, and enjoyment-wise, I’d place it right on par with the first Iron Man (We shall never speak of the travesty known as the second one).
I won’t admit to knowing anything about this story to start with, besides the basic fact that it was a comic, based on the mythological legend, so I’m not sure how much or even if the film deviates from the source material. The story is this: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is an arrogant, rock star who-would-be-king, until a petulant act of revenge killing (that is a totally freaking bad-ass sequence) gets him banished from his home, sent to Earth, with no powers (namely his awesome hammer), by his father, King Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Once there, he encounters a motley crew of researchers, and must find a way to be worthy of that hammer, regain his powers, and make it back home, dealing with double-crossing family members and an evil frozen race who want to wage war along the way. Of course he does all this and more, but you knew that; it’s a summer superhero movie for god’s sake. However, that doesn’t retract from the high level of quality or entertainment it ends up providing.
I really enjoyed the well-chosen cast. Hemsworth, who I didn’t expect to like, because to me, he is generic-looking, almost immediately won me over (Why am I shocked? He was great in the few minutes he was alive in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek as George Kirk). I’m not one for muscles, but when he took his shirt off, damn if I didn’t get the quivers. He really conveyed the innocence, arrogance, and appeal that Thor embodies. Hopkins kinda phones it in, but at this point in his life and career, he doesn’t really need to do anything special, he just IS that regal. A stellar Brit named Tom Hiddleston, who I’ve never heard of, does a smashing job at playing Loki, the treacherous brother. He’s got a Draco Malfoy-in-10-years look about him, which is pretty perfect for the character. He’s a good villain in that you understand why he does the things he does, something I appreciate from the film-makers. Natalie Portman is an astrophysicist named Jane Foster, and while I usually have anaphylaxis against hot chicks playing advanced intelligence roles such as this, Portman is known for being a smart lady, and I think she did a great job of being sucked into the possibilities for the universe (and her research) that Thor represents.
Kenneth Branaugh directed, and while at first thought I didn’t know if he’d be the right choice, the plot of this film revolves around a treacherous son/brother, and it doesn’t get any more Shakespearian than that (He directs a LOT of Shakespeare, in case you didn’t know). Branaugh did a fantastic job, even and especially when dealing with effects-driven stretches of the story. The “realm” that Thor originates from, Asgard, looks like one of those uber-nerdly desktop wallpapers or laptop covers with tons of teal and purple nebulas and shimmery gold towers rising above a world of lush green and choppy oceans and waterfalls, which is to say: FUCKING AWESOME.
As most comic-geeks know, you should stay through the final credits for an Avengers (2012) tease. Iron Man‘s descent into shit had me not giving a damn about that upcoming film, but this breath of fresh air has me pumped. I’m glad to know Thor’s story will continue to be told; he deserves it.