MOVIE REVIEW – ‘Thor’

Review by J.T. Johnson

DIRECTOR: Kenneth Branagh
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Haris Zambarloukos
WRITERS: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne
MUSIC: Patrick Doyle

With all of the superhero films coming out from Marvel Studios in their big attempt to make “The Avengers”, there was one that was going to be particularly challenging to bring to the big screen. In the kingdom of Asgard, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is a king that has established a fragile truce with the Frost Giants. After a surprise attack by the giants, an angry Thor (Chris Hemsworth) reignites the old war.

Odin is angered by his spoiled son and banishes Thor to Earth after stripping him of his powers. While on Earth, Thor must adapt to human society and find his lost hammer, Mjolnir. While all of this is going on, Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is trying to take over Asgard in an attempt to prove to Odin that he can rule the kingdom.

The first thing that I should mention is that I am not a huge fan of the Thor comic books. It’s not that I thought they were bad, I just never got into them. Therefore, I don’t know much about the source material beyond a little research that I did before I saw this movie. This means I can only tell you whether or not it entertained me and that is where “Thor” succeeds.

The story is over-the-top, but it’s intentional. Somehow, director Kenneth Branagh manages to keep the story set in some realm of reality. While there are a couple of silly moments, there is nothing too huge that it pulls anyone out of the picture.

Of course, one big reason for this is Hemsworth as Thor. For those who don’t know the actor, he briefly portrayed Captain Kirk’s father in 2009’s “Star Trek”. Hemsworth is great at pulling off the more serious moments while finding a perfect balance with the humor that comes with Thor’s arrival on Earth.

Natalie Portman plays the love interest in this particular superhero film as a scientist named Jane Foster. The Academy Award winning actress does a great job, but the only problem is that I wish there had been more time put into developing Jane’s relationship with Thor. One of the good points about “Iron Man” was the growing relationship between Pepper and Tony. Here, the writers kind of missed the mark.

Another performance of note comes from veteran actor Hopkins as Odin. Here is an actor who knows how to play roles on a Shakespearian scale. Odin is a loving but strict father who has high hopes for his son but is disappointed by Thor’s lust for war. After Thor’s crimes, Hopkins does a fantastic job at playing the father who is not afraid to banish his own son but it does affect him and Hopkins pulls the performance off flawlessly.

As far as villains go, Hiddleston has the pleasure of playing a more tragic baddie than usual. At first, he is just jealous of Thor’s success. Soon, though, he learns a tragic truth that actually makes the audience feel bad for him. Hiddleston does a good job at playing a vulnerable yet nevertheless threatening antagonist.

Despite having wildly different stories, the tone of “Thor” is actually similar to that of “The Incredible Hulk”. Instead of trying to stop some sort of world shattering plot, both Thor and Bruce Banner are on a quest to discover their own place in this universe. With Banner, it was trying to discover how to control and live with his unfortunate power so others would not get hurt. For Thor, it is trying to discover what his father wants him to learn so he can get his powers back and use them for good.

The Marvel movies have so far been successful with one Hulk film and two Iron Man flicks. With “Thor”, they definitely have another success on their hands as they get one step closer to “The Avengers”.

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