Thor was always going to be the wild card in the Marvel stable of superhero movies. Could this release pull off a box office win with a relative newcomer leading man, a classical director and still showcase a mystical powered Hero from not another world but actually another ‘realm’? The character isn’t as well known as Spidey or the Hulk so the scriptwriters (and there are five of them) had to create a story which enveloped a Norse mythology lesson wrapped around a modern day backdrop for guy meets girl, world falls apart, guy becomes superhero, guy saves world, girl falls for guy. Well you know the plot. And it still rocks!
Don’t take these thoughts for cynicism.
This movie delivers and aside from a couple of ‘why did they do that’ moments, it climbs on every level. Kenneth Branagh has surprised many detractors on this project. Could the man who brought us Frankenstein and The Magic Flute as follow-ups to his 1989 hit Henry V deliver a comic book superhero? He does, and he’s brought the right combination of artistry and superhero action to a script that is also able to bring in the nuances of Norse myth lore. Combine that with some great ‘God meets Humanity’ humour points and we’re loving it. The preview audience were vocal in both their laughter and post screening praise.
So what were those ‘why did they do that’ moments? Simply put, the extensive CGi backdrops under 3D conditions took the fantasy meets realism aspect to the extreme.
Sadly under 3D conditions many of the Asgardian sets looked plastic and blurred in comparison to the CGi shots that took place on our big blue planet. Some shots seemed to overplay ‘expanse’. When done once to develop a sense of the backdrop to a story its understood but it was played time and time again with horses riding across Bifröst, the rainbow bridge to Asgard looking like a CGi shot from 20 years ago in what overall was a brilliant special effects movie.
But I can hear you asking the more important question every ‘Home and Away’ viewer wants to know. How did the 6’3” Chris Hemsworth fill the screen? Truth be told he filled the Asgardian armour one pec at a time. And the hammer, lets not forget wielding the Mjölnir like a toy. The special effects just around the use of this superhero tool of trade were superb. After auditioning for Hollywood with his 51 seconds of fame as James T Kirk’s father George in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot, Hemsworth will be happy that this will confirm many encores to come. The Aussie larakin is quite at home in his ‘god of thunder’ boots and this brings the right mix of ‘don’t mess with me’ to his blue eyes and cheeky smile. I think he picked the right mix of character in humour and strength. The voice was perfect for the accent you’d expect from a Norse god. Not quite Neeson and thankfully not at all like Clooney.
Great parts are picked up by actors like Colme Feore as Laufey. Think of this villain as Dr Freeze meets Voldermort. His depth of character in the closeups was incredible.
Battling for screen space was the character of Loki. A god of mischief and Thor’s under appreciated younger brother, Tom Hiddleston nailed this character with great presence. Natalie Portman as the love interest Jane Foster shows versatility when combined with her recent role in Black Swan. She delivers the balanced damsel with depth and a vibe that keeps her front and centre to the story while Anthony Hopkins continues his double act of doing the voice over routine combined with King of Asgard, Odin. This keeps the tension of father and son relationships in focus as Thor and Loki fight for affection and acknowledgement from the winner of ‘Dad of the Universe’. Speaking of voice-overs, the role that steals some ‘thunder’ comes from Idris Elba who portrays the gatekeeper of Asgard, Heimdall.
Watch for the cameos we love like Stan the Man Lee and an intro for Hawkeye played by Jeremy Renner (Hurt Locker) from the upcoming Avengers movie. Clark Gregg renews his Shield Agent role to be a key thread in these Avenger themed movies.
All in all this THOR gets a FOUR out of five popcorns. From the hammer to the shield to the kick the back out of the monster’s skull moments you’re going to love every minute of this movie. It keeps you cheering for the hero, laughing with some classic lines for both comic and literature buffs and at the end it leaves you wanting THOR!
Reviewed by: Andrew Pitchford