The powerful but arrogant warrior Thor is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard and sent to live amongst humans on Earth, where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.
Thor is going to be King. He is part Prince William and part Rock Star. He is the hottest thing in Asgard and he has the swagger to prove it. Unfortunately for the god of thunder, he starts a war with some marginally scary villains called the Frost Giants. This pisses off his old dad, Odin (Hopkins) who is more or less the King of Everything.
The realm of Asgard is a fantastically realised dimension whose dazzling architecture and polished wonders seem to be inspired by the late Liberace’s Vegas mansion. Although Asgard is far away from us in time and space, they believe the sun hasn’t set on the British Empire. All the inhabitants speak with English accents except for Odin who sounds distinctly Welsh.
Banished to Earth, Thor has only the powers of your average action hero. It is here that he discovers what it is like to be a frail mortal. He learns humility and in doing so picks up hot scientist Jane Foster (Portman). Being with Jane teaches Thor some valuable life lessons which more or less add up to not smashing crockery to get the waiter’s attention.
Having discovered the joy of being polite rather than demanding and with the love of a good woman to sustain him, Thor is ready to unravel the not very complicated plot that had him wrongly banished to Earth in the first place.
The best thing about THOR is that it takes every element you would expect in this category of film and does it well. There are no real surprises, just enjoyable tweaks to the formula. The computer generated action set pieces are paced out well rather than feeling intrusive and annoying. Basically the film relies on its characters and its story. This has two main strands – the first is a father and son tale – will THOR learn to respect the old ways and understand what a wise old fella Odin is? The second strand is a romance between Thor and Natalie Portman’s scientist. This part of the story works better than expected and provides a lot of the fun of the film.
The rest of the entertainment comes from seeing the mighty Thor in reduced circumstances. Watching him grapple to understand our Earth ways is consistently amusing and so the movie is a lot funnier than you might imagine.
Former HOME AND AWAY actor, Australian Chris Hemsworth, is very solid in the starring role and – as expected – director Kenneth Branagh has drawn some good performances from his cast. THE WIRE’s Idris Elba is impressive in the small but pivotal role of the gatekeeper Heimdall. Kat Dennings and veteran Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård are very good in their supporting roles as Foster’s fellow scientists. I would have liked to have seen more of both. The reliable Clark Gregg returns as SHIELD agent Coulson whom we saw in both IRON MAN films and who will appear again in this current cycle of Marvel films.
For those who don’t know, THOR is part of The Avengers series, which will link the IRON MAN films with the upcoming CAPTAIN AMERICA, THE AVENGERS and NICK FURY movies. The Avengers are a superhero supergroup. Apparently they fight the foes no single hero can withstand. THOR shows the savviness of Marvel’s planning and marketing. I’m not a comics fan and had only a sketchy knowledge of the Thor and Captain America characters, yet I am now interested to see how the movie series will play out. THOR will definitely give audiences a reason to embark upon the rest of the Avengers journey.
If you don’t enjoy superhero films, then this film won’t change your mind about the genre. But THOR is an entertaining blend of well-honed storytelling devices. This is a professionally made big budget popcorn flick that won’t take you to new realms but is likely to keep you engaged for two hours. I thought it was better than IRON MAN 2 but not as good as IRON MAN, original recipe.
THOR is in Australian cinemas now in both 2D and 3D versions. I rated it a 3/5.
NOTE: Darran’s interview with Tom Hiddleston (Loki) is here.