Thor tells the story of a Norse mythological warrior, banished from his home in Asgard and sent to Earth. In the continuing build up to 2012’s The Avengers, Thor is the latest Marvel character to get his own movie. However, unlike his comic book counterparts, the bearded god is from a more fantastical setting then Tony Stark or even Bruce Banner. Hoping to add some gravitas to proceedings though is British thespian and director Kenneth Branagh.
On the day of his inauguration to take over from his father Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins) as King, a chain of events leads to Thor instead starting a war with the Frost Giants of Jotunheim. Furious with his actions, Odin strips Thor of his Mjolnir – the magical hammer that provides his immense power. The King then decides to take council from his other son Loki (Tom Hiddleston), better known as the god of mischief.
When Thor (Chris Hemsworth) crashes to earth, he runs into astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her colleagues. This is where the fun begins as Thor’s Viking sensibilities lead him to smashing coffee mugs in an American diner and attempting to buy a horse from a pet shop. On a quest to redeem his hammer, Thor comes to blows with S.H.I.E.L.D (aka the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) and a huge, fire-spewing metallic Destroyer.
This all leads to an eventual confrontation with Thor’s Machiavellian brother, but his fight with Loki proves somewhat anti-climactic with Marvel clearly saving the real fight for ‘The Avengers’. Oh well.
There is a fair bit of hammy acting in the film from the Asgardians, with Anthony Hopkins surprisingly being the worst offender. Performances are thankfully much more grounded on Earth, with Marvel regular Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and potential love interest Jane Foster in decent supporting roles.
The Thor character has previously only been seen in cameo roles in films like ‘The Incredible Hulk Returns’ (1988) and in a case of mistaken identity in the 1980’s classic ‘Adventures of Babysitting’. Chris Hemsworth was well-cast in this iteration, with enough charisma to carry the franchise forward for its eventual sequel.
Kenneth Branagh does a decent job in establishing Thor and balancing the two polar-opposite worlds. However, ‘Thor’ ultimately serves as an extended teaser for ‘The Avengers’. While the scenes on Asgard are necessary for the plot, the film is most enjoyable as a fish out of water story. ‘Thor’ is certainly worth watching, but doesn’t quite come up to the high standard of ‘Iron Man’ or ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’.
The Blu-ray features a bumper collection of bonus extras including a director’s commentary with Kenneth Branagh, a variety of featurettes, a brief taste of things to come in the ‘Road to The Avengers’, deleted scenes with optional directors commentary, and trailers. The real highlight here is ‘Marvel one-shot: The Consultant’, which offers more background into Tony Stark’s appearance at the end of The Incredible Hulk.
One final note – be sure to stay for the end credits for a taste of things to come...
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Review by: Mark O'Connell
Date: 10th October 2011
Rating out of 5: