REVIEW: Thor (2011)

thor

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2011, Paramount Pictures/Marvel Enterprises

Director
Kenneth Branagh
Producer
Kevin Feige
Writers
Stan Lee (original characters)
Larry Lieber (original characters)
Jack Kirby (original characters)
J. Michael Straczynski (story)
Mark Protosevich (story)
Ashley Edward Miller (screenplay)
Zack Stentz (screenplay)
Don Payne (screenplay)
Cinematography
Haris Zambarloukos
Editing
Paul Rubell

Cast
Chris Hemsworth (Thor Odinson)
Natalie Portman (Dr. Jane Foster)
Tom Hiddleston (Loki)
Stellan Skarsgard (Dr. Erik Selvig)
Kat Dennings (Darcy)
Idris Elba (Heimdall)
Rene Russo (Frigga)
Anthony Hopkins (Odin Allfather)
Ray Stevenson (Volstagg)
Jaimie Alexander (Sif)
Tadanobu Asano (Hogun)
Joshua Dallas (Fandral)
Colm Feore (King Laufey)
Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson)

The Norse God of Thunder and Marvel Comics’ superhero is given the live action film treatment and thanks to the direction of Kenneth Branagh, is one for the ages.

Thor is the son of Odin, the ruler of Asgard. The next to take over the throne, Thor learns of old rivals getting into Asgard and attempting to steal a relic Odin took years ago after a war ensued between the Asgardians and the Frost Giants. When Odin tells Thor to stand ground, he disobeys his fathers and along with his brother Loki and his friends, they herad to Jordheim, the land of the Frost Giants. After a warning to leave Jordheim, Thor unwittingly sets off another war between Asgard and the Frost Giants.

Odin is angered by Thor’s action and his arrogance. Called an old man and a fool by his son, Odin finds himself no other alternative. He relinquishes Thor of his powers and banishes him to Earth. Once there, Thor finds himself in the company of a scientist team consisting of Dr. Jane Foster, Dr. Erik Selvig, and intern Darcy. As Thor continues to act arrogant on Earth, Odin falls into a coma. Loki takes over the throne and hatches a devious plot to ally himself with the Frost Giants. Meanwhile, Thor begins to learn more about emotions and humility. When Loki unleashes a monster called The Destroyer to wreak havoc, Thor must learn the ultimate lesson in humility to regain his powers and stop his brother once and for all.

The legend of Thor comes from Norse mythology. Thor is considered the God of Thunder. When Marvel Comics adapted the character, the original story involved a disabled doctor who has the power to transform into Thor with a strike of his walking stick. When Marvel finally went ahead with the long awaited film adaptation, they had plans to use this original story. However, when famed British actor and filmmaker Kenneth Branagh came on board to direct the film, the story was changed to a more subtle storyline that meshes the Marvel universe with something expected in perhaps a Shakespeare play. Surprisingly, this mesh works very well.

Australian Chris Hemsworth beat out a series of other actors, including his own brother Liam and True Blood actor Alexander Skarsgard to win the coveted role of Thor. Hemsworth has truly made the role his, combining the look of Thor (long blond hair and icy blue eyes) with a great performance as a warrior with an attitude who must learn humility to regain his godly powers. Hemsworth also performs the action quite well, dabbling in some close quarter style combat when Thor finds his hammer, Mjolnir, surrounded by the organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D.

The storyline’ Shakespearean style comes in the form of a sibling rivalry between princes. Along with Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston churns out a wonderful performance as Thor’s brother Loki, who starts out as an ally and one loyal to his brother to one who grows into a treacherous rival who learns of his true origin and uses it to his advantage in his attempt to take over Asgard. The ever popular Anthony Hopkins brings greatness in the role of Odin, the ruler of Asgard who is forced to take away his son’s powers.

Natalie Portman returns to comic book films (after the sucessful V for Vendetta (2006)) to play Dr. Foster, a scientist who believes that Thor is not from Earth and delves into his world. She feels a special connection to Thor and eventually, a love story between the two is imminent. Stellan Skarsgard does well as Dr. Erik Selvig, Jane’s superior who attempts to debunk Thor’s story but grows to become a true ally…or does he? Kat Dennings fits the role of college intern Darcy to a tee with her college style humor. She brings a bit of comic relief to the mix when it comes to her scenes with Thor. In his extended cameo, Clark Gregg reprises his role of Agent Coulson from Iron Man 2 (2010) and tries to understand who Thor is and where he is from.

For those who have not seen the film as of yet, there are two special cameo appearances. One this reviewer will say is that of Samuel L. Jackson, who returns to play Nick Fury as THOR is part of the set up for the 2012 ensemble film The Avengers. The other is one that will not be spoiled, but this reviewer will say that this particular cast member is also part of THE AVENGERS and he appears mid-way through the film. No, it is not Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man either. Hemsworth will not only be in The Avengers but in 2013, he will return to the role in Thor: The Dark World, which there will be a new director as Kenneth Branagh will not return.

THOR is truly a great adaptation of the Marvel Comics hero, thanks to the performance of its cast, a great storyline that plays out like a modern day Shakespeare play and the direction of one Kenneth Branagh.

WFG RATING: A

DVD/BLU-RAY

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