Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgård, Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh
First and foremost, Thor is not your average superhero film. Unlike Iron Man, he was born a God and raised to become one of the finest warriors that defend the legendary city of Asgard and the Nine Realms, which includes our own planet Earth. Unfortunately, his destiny as a great warrior is tested when an attack on his kingdom provokes him to retaliate, causing great unrest and the proposition of war reigniting with their hated enemies, the Frost Giants. As a result of his carelessness, Thor's King and Father Odin is forced to banish his son to Earth as consequence for his actions and to teach him a lesson in humility. Stranded, the former God of Thunder learns firsthand what it means to be powerless, and as he takes in his new surroundings, he comes to learn the true meaning of humility when he befriends and nurtures a pivotal relationship with a mortal girl scientist named Jane Foster. Meanwhile, Thor's brother Loki discovers a hidden secret about his past, and sets into motion plans that will secure his own future as the new king of Asgard, but will jeopardize all the realms in the process. With both worlds in danger because of his brother's actions, Thor must reclaim his power once more to make things right and redeem himself worthy of being a true hero and warrior.
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a die-hard Thor fan, but I have high regard and respect for the character, especially since he is a founding member of the Avengers, a select group of superheroes that includes my personal favorites Iron Man and Captain America among their ranks. In fact, this movie has full blown references and lead-ons to the live action adaptation of The Avengers, which is slated for a 2012 release and will be directed by comic book scribe Joss Whedon. I won't name or state specifically what those references are, but they have to do with pivotal members and products of that team, especially one cameo appearance by a bow-wielding Avenger who gets more than enough screentime for audiences to peg who he really is. Before getting way ahead of myself with Avengers, we still have this film and Captain America: The First Avenger to see this year, and thankfully one of them has shown and given me renewed hope for Marvel's ambitious superhero team movie project.
Other than the 1994 "Frankenstein" movie and some Shakespearean plays and films, I was initially surprised to learn that Kenneth Branagh was announced as the director of "Thor". As production moved on with the film, I saw that the Northern Irish-born English guy had a knack for this kind of schtick, and even produced promotional material and results that were beyond my wildest expectations. His revelation of The Destroyer ( a large mechanical Golem of Asgard) last year was especially true to the look in the comics, and I was confident that we had a great director on our hands for Thor. Besides making Asgard into a Tech-Magic hub that literally left the audience amazed, I found the production values so dazzling for a movie that demanded so much from the special effects department. Jotunheim and its Frost Giants looked beastly enough to construe as deadly threats, and the effects department did a great job of displaying their frosty powers in a deadly manner. That's not to say that the Asgardians were pushovers either. Thor's powers were so impressive to see onscreen that you wouldn't imagine a guy flying and spinning around a mighty hammer as a perceivable threat until you see it firsthand. I couldn't help but be reminded of Lord of The Rings everytime I see fight scenes involving mass armies, but we get bits and pieces of that in Thor, and yes, Odin the All-Father does kick ass, and proves firsthand he's not just a king in title.
For the casting alone, I am well-pleased with the results of who has starred and brought to life the characters that revolve around the world of "Thor". Chris Hemsworth, the Australian ever remembered as the guy who played Captain James T. Kirk's dad George Kirk in J.J Abram's 2009 reboot of "Star Trek", auditioned for the role of "Thor" twice, and his perseverance has led him to what I consider a role born for the actor to play. He lends credence to his role by buffing up and getting the characterization right. Just hearing him talk like Thor makes me amused that someone can actually pull it off, and wielding the might of Mjolnir looks convincing in his hands. A lot of people may argue that this Thor doesn't have the human guise of Dr. Donald Blake, but there's reference to that point in this movie, and this Thor works like a hybrid of the regular and Ultimate comic universes. For an actor I barely know of, English actor Tom Hiddleston plays one great Loki, to the point that I view not as the evil God of Mischief, but rather as a tragic villain that certainly gets sympathy from the audience watching this movie. His jealousy and desire to get what he wants lead to his downfall as a villain, and in many ways Hiddleston's portrayal here reminds me of Michael Rosenbaum's role in Smallville as Lex Luthor. Both are destined to be bad guys, but they weren't that way in the first place, and it works for the benefit of characterization, drama, and exposition that fans can relate to. Natalie Portman is as hot looking as she was in Black Swan, but her portrayal of Jane Foster differs greatly from the comic source material. Here she's just another brave science wiz who falls head-over-heels for Thor, while in the comics she loves Thor and was a nurse and love interest to Thor's alter ego Donald Blake, creating a love triangle dilemma that is obviously absent from the movie. I don't really mind that, and Portman does perform her role exceptionally well... I just don't see her as the Jane Foster I know from the books. Of course, we can't forget Anthony Hopkins as Odin, and he literally was deserving to placed in this role. The actor's voice and demeanor alone command much respect, and I could feel it everytime he spoke and acted in this film. You'll come to love these characters and the other supporting cast, which includes Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgård, Ray Stevenson, and even Rene Russo! Oh, and I mustn't forget to mention the presence of S.H.I.E.L.D here too. Clark Gregg returns as Agen Phil Coulson from the Iron Man movies, and anyone expecting Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury better sit their ass down until after the credits finish. There's a post credits scene... and one I must stress you watch!
From the way it was conceived right up to watching it yesterday in IMAX, Thor is definitely one of those impressive superhero films worth seeing for many reasons, especially if you're a comic buff or Marvel and Avengers fan. I may still consider the first Iron Man movie one of my personal faves, but this holds up on its own unique way, and the pacing kind of reminded me of Tony Stark's first run in the armored suit back in 2008. It has a nice blend of action, comedy, drama, and epicness all rolled into one, and it will definitely entertain all age groups for one reason or another. Seeing the final product in 3D made me even more happy with the director's results, and I do hope he returns for the sequel. I don't have any qualms or complaints other than the runtime being too short, haha! The movie is indeed a tale about Gods and Men, but it is also about Honor, Treachery, Arrogance, and Redemption. I definitely wouldn't mind seeing this in theaters again, and everything leads to the next big Marvel movie next year! Watch out for that, and see X-Men First Class and Captain America: The First Avenger later this year!
Rating - 5/5 (updated from an error rating of 4/5! This movie deserves the top score, yeah!)