Kieran's Rating: 8/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.9/10
(7 reviews total)
We all know that in 2012 we will be getting the ultimate superhero film, The Avengers
, being set up by Marvel Studios. But the key words are "set up," and that started with Iron Man
in 2008 and continues with another on of the studio's properties, Thor
, which again makes for another entertaining superhero film.
In 970 A.D. there was epic war between the Asgardians lead by Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and the Frost Giants, a species that wanted to conquer Earth. Years later, Odin makes his son Thor (Chris Hemsworth) his heir, but a group of Frost Giants attempt to steal the Casket of Ancient Winters. Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), faults Thor with the crime and his companions to go to war against the Frost Giants despite their father’s orders. As punishment, Thor is banished to Earth with his powers and hammer, Mjolnir, taken away from him.
On Earth, Thor befriends a young scientist, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), and her companions Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skargard) and Darcy (Kat Dennings). Thor sets out to receive his hammer from S.H.I.E.L.D while in Asgard, Loki continues his plotting ways to take control of the realm.
Thor is Marvel’s interpretation of Norse mythology and he is a god with powers to match. A problem could have been that Thor would have been too powerful to ever be in any real danger, but the writers were able to counter it in two ways: first, Thor has powerful adversaries who can match him or at least give him a good run for his money. The other obvious idea was to have Thor’s powers taken away from him. Thor has to earn his powers back and prove himself, which is the core of the story.
Marvel has made bold choices when picking directors: Jon Favreau was an actor before turning into a comedy director and Louis Leterrier was a full-on action specialist. Kenneth Branagh is known for making Shakespeare adaptations and films about classic stories, so it was an interesting choice for both the director and the studio. Whether or not you like Branagh’s movies (or have seen any of them), there is no denying he has a grand visual style and a perfect fit for bringing all these different worlds to life: the bright fantasy world of Asgard, the dark cold planet of Jotunheim and Earth looking like it does in Iron Man.
Thor itself is a strange mix of fantasy and science fiction, an attempt to combine the two. The special effects were of a high standard and the action was good, with Hemsworth being particularly convincing as a fighter, beating his way through S.H.I.E.L.D. with ease. I’m sure if Branagh returns for a sequel his action direction will improve. He ensured that there was a healthy mix of action, drama, romance and comedy, all the ingredients needed for a fun time at the cinema. The film follows a similar pattern to Iron Man, having a prologue then showing the set-up and matching its tone.
There is a great cast in the film, I expect Hemsworth will be a big star. He was really convincing as a young warrior who is impulsive and defiant and has to learn to be responsible. Hiddleston is wonderfully weasel like, a power-hungry individual who manipulates everyone around him. He is a complex character, the opposite of Thor. Loki lacks strength, but is cunning, similar to Commodus in Gladiator and Wormtongue in Lord in the Rings.
Portman and Hemsworth have excellent chemistry together and I expect Jane’s knowledge will be of use later on in the series. Skargard’s character was basically in the film to arch Vikings myths to the characters, but it was done effectively. And the role of Odin is easily Anthony Hopkins’ best performance in a film for a long time.
I do have to criticise Thor for relying a little too much on comic relief. Of course a film like this does need a little comedy, but the Darcy character was only in the film so all her lines can be jokes and wisecracks.
For comic book fans, there are little references for you, including a cameo by an forthcoming Avenger. I would like to have seen a little news footage showing the events of Iron Man 2
seeing as they were going on at the same time as Thor (but that‘s just me). Lastly, everyone needs to stay behind for the post-credit scene because it will be yet another set-up for later.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Written by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne (screenplay), J. Michael Straczynski, Mark Protosevich (story)
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Dinah thought: "Thor is a good time, but it won’t leave you talking for days after viewing. It has its funny elements, some decent action and a few good characters thrown in, yet it manages to underwhelm. Chris Hemsworth is the right guy to play Thor; he uses just the right touches of hostility, bravado and charm for a budding Prince of Asgard (and he’s a natural beauty too). Loki, played convincingly by Tom Hiddleston and Odin (Anthony Hopkins carries himself with the majesty befitting a king) provide dynamic characters amidst throwaways like Darcy and, dare I say it, Jane (Natalie Portman). The cameos and the scene after the credits drew no applause, whispers, or sighs in my theater likely due to overexposure through marketing. The story is woven nicely with subtlety, the backdrop of Asgard is beautiful, but the action, in CGI, I thought was rather awful and looked like stock video-game footage. It is a generally enjoyable film, just not an altogether great experience. I look forward to seeing the characters return in The Avengers." Rating: 7/10
Max thought: "In an era of comic films like The Dark Knight, where a (heightened) sense of realism is expected, Thor, with it's otherworldly realms and over the top abilities/wardrobes, might be a hard pill for some to swallow. Unlike many hero films out there, this is not entirely an origin story; Thor is already set in his world and comfortable in his abilities prior to the film's start. This gives Branagh some room to play with the relationships of his characters and for the most part, he succeeds. Hemsworth is surprisingly balanced and a perfect fit to play the lead, while Hopkins continues to be his awesome self. However, it is the little known Hiddleston who steals the show as Loki. Unlike most characters in the film (Thor included), Loki's journey from second-fiddle brother to Thor's nemesis feels complete--without being rushed--by the film's end. With his involvement in The Avengers now confirmed, it was great to see traces of Loki's more menacing side come to light towards the end of second act. It only helps that Hiddleston and Hemsworth have remarkable chemistry together. The film has it's well-placed comedic moments, a few impressive action sequences and feels more like a stand-alone film than an extended trailer for The Avengers (I'm talking to you, Iron Man 2), but nothing will quite stay with you other than the possibilities bred from the brotherly/adversarial relationship formed between Hemsworth and Hiddleston." Rating: 7/10
Steven thought: "Looking at the whole of the Marvel universe, Thor would have to be the black sheep.
Yet under Kenneth Branagh’s direction, the worlds of magical legend and that of the contemporary superhero manage to find a common ground through humor and relatable themes of familial conflict. Channeled through Chris Hemsworth’s bravado and highly aware performance, Thor manages to stand tall as a hero’s journey among all else, a trait that serves as its saving grace. Hemsworth shows a definitive comfort as a leading man, happily commanding the attention that ought to be demanded of an actor playing a god. Hiddleston thrives here as the story’s most complex character, which is a title more often given to someone other than the villain in a superhero film. His transformation from untrustworthy worm to full-on bad guy feels complete thanks to the way Hiddleston seizes every moment of screen time. Although I love Portman, the romance was the weakest subplot and the film was best served focusing on that almost Shakespearean family dynamic. It's that focus that makes Thor likable despite some underwhelming action and taking place in the foreign and strange world of Norse mythology." Rating: 7/10
John thought: "At a time when the superhero genre is steering itself toward reality (a la The Dark Knight), Thor seems like a fish out of water. Its characters actually have powers, it takes place in fantastical worlds, and logic and reason are its first casualties. And although a film like that might sound like a breath of fresh air, Thor misses the mark. Too often, it feels like an extended trailer for The Avengers. The tonal shifts between the Earth scenes and the Asgard scenes are too jarring. And the action scenes are totally generic. Some are comparing this to Iron Man—way off base, in my opinion. That film had energy and charm to spare. Thor is more like the hokey exercise that was Iron Man 2." Rating: 5/10
Simon thought: "Hawkeye, Nick Fury and “Avengers” tidbits aside, Thor succeeds as a standalone superhero origin story bringing the fun, grandeur and great performances not fully seen in a Marvel offering since the original Iron Man. Thor could be the first successful blend of fanboy elements and accessible mainstream superhero entertainment, thanks in no small part to Hemsworth and Hiddleston in the roles of godly hero and villain respectively; they are charismatic to the extent smaller sillier moments are effortlessly patched. The scenes in Asgard (which could easily be lumped into the aforementioned sillier moments) were great fun, brining a new experience to the genre for casual fans and thankfully opt to just dump the viewer into this world instead of attempting to set up extended introductions and exposition that could have ramped up the camp to detrimental levels. As a christening for summer’s start, Thor is simply great fun and a worthy addition to the popular genre." Rating: 7.5/10
"Kenneth Branagh, an actor and director famous for Shakespeare adaptations, comes to the helm of a superhero film led by an Australian actor who isn’t really a household name and hasn’t proven himself much elsewhere. By that description, Thor
sounds like an utter disaster, but it’s shockingly entertaining and well worth a watch. Hemsworth as the Norse god delivers a wonderfully exuberant performance, balancing between grandeur and the fish-out-of-water norm that we can expect given the story. It’s nothing compared to her work in Black Swan
, but Portman suffices just fine as the love interest Jane. A weak link, however, comes with the villain, Loki. The character itself isn’t much of a threat, and Hiddleston doesn’t really help matters. In short, it’s an incompletely fleshed-out antagonist relying on a disastrously inconsistent performance to bring it to light. Going back and forth between “our world” and Asgard proves to be a bit problematic too, as the happenings in Asgard are far more interesting than the drab occurrences in the former region. Lastly, though it’s bearable, the tie-ins to The Avengers
are still troublesome and ultimately distracting from an otherwise enjoyable film." Rating: 7/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.9/10