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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Thor

MOVIE REVIEWS

THOR (2011)

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgaard, Kat Dennings, Clark Gregg, Rene Russo, Idris Elba, Colm Feore, Jaimie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Josh Dallas, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson and Stan Lee.

Screenplay by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh.

Distributed by Paramount Pictures.  118 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

 

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Thor 

Thor was always one of the goofier Marvel Comics superheroes – a loud, vain, self-absorbed Norse God who vanquishes his foes by throwing a magic hammer at them – so it’s no real surprise that his is one of the goofier Marvel movies. 

Or, strangely enough, Thor plays like two separate movies smashed together.  One of those – a fish out of water tale in which the superhero and villains land in the middle of a small desert town and nearly lay waste to the place – is actually extremely entertaining, despite the fact that it is just a bit too reminiscent of similar scenes in Superman II.  The second story – about politics, intrigue and treason in the royal house of the God’s city Asgard – is much less interesting and borders on ridiculous quite often. 

Still, Thor is filmed with gorgeous grandeur by an unlikely director – Kenneth Branagh, who has always seemed much more comfortable with the Bard than with Marvel – and he has sculpted a very good piece of escapist summer fluff, despite the inherent limitations of his main character. 

Besides, who knew ancient Norse Gods had giant killer robots? 

Chris Hemsworth makes a likable and impressively buff action star.  Tom Hiddleston makes for a weasel of a bad guy.  Anthony Hopkins over emotes like no one’s business.  Natalie Portman – continuing her quest to be in every movie released in the past year – does just fine in a part that is mostly decorative.  Kat Dennings nearly steals the film as a slacker scientist.  And finally, finally, the severely underemployed Rene Russo gets another job, though honestly she gets less than nothing to do as Thor’s mother. 

Unfortunately, Thor’s background story is pretty uninteresting as Marvel superheroes go.  He was born a king and a God, and... well that’s about it.  All sorts of claptrap about an attempted coup of his world strains to be interesting, but never quite becomes intriguing – though it is all, admittedly, spectacularly filmed. 

As mentioned, his banishment on Earth is much more entertaining, in a fish-out-of-water sort of way.  Sadly, not enough of the storyline focuses on this aspect of the film.  This section of the storyline should have been beefed up (any pun regarding Mr. Hemsworth’s physique was unintentional). 

Thor would have been much more entertaining if the entire Asgard section was jettisoned – or at the very least severely pruned down. 

However, the Asgard stuff is there and looks sharp, feels overwrought and sounds a little ridiculous.  (The Asgard dialogue is almost comical in its faux-formality) 

Hopefully by the second Thor film – and it is nearly inevitable – the backstory will calm down and the filmmakers will focus on the more interesting aspects of Thor’s life and his world.  Also, hopefully, they will spend much more time in the real world rather than the bizarre mash-up of mythical Gods and space aliens which appears to be Asgard. 

In fact, we won’t have to even wait that long, as with most of the recent Marvel films (including Iron Man 2 and the upcoming Captain America), other Marvel superheroes make little cameos here.  This is obviously trying to whip the fan boys up for the upcoming Avengers movie, which will essentially be a Marvel all-star game – Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Nick Fury, Hawkeye, etc. 

The Thor film seems to be particularly setting up the movie, because not only is Thor going to be in The Avengers, but his evil brother Loki (Hiddleston), one of the scientists (Stellan Skarsgaard) and the government agent tracking Thor (Clark Gregg) will also be a part of the imminent film. 

Truth is, the character of Thor will probably work better in that context.  He seems more like a supporting character than the centerpiece of a franchise.  And his film, despite trying gallantly to hide the hero’s limited appeal, can’t completely change that fact.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 1, 2011.

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Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 1, 2011.

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