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Movie Review: Thor (2011) April 25, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Movie Reviews, Reviews.
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Thor was one of those movies that had me intrigued as soon as it was announced.  Of all the superhero premises, this one had ‘disaster’ written all over it more than any other.  A magical hammer, the God of Thunder, guys dressed in shiny armour fighting blue giants that can turn things into ice.  Not exactly the type of material that you’d think would make a good, (at least) semi-serious film set partially on present-day Earth.

But then enter director Kenneth Branagh (you know, the guy that does all the Shakespeare stuff), throw in Aussie Chris Hemsworth (probably best known by non-Aussies as Kirk’s dad in the Star Trek reboot), Academy Award winners Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins, and all of a sudden the film starts having potential.  Could they make this farcical premise work?

Well, yeah, they did.  About as well as I could have imagined.

Thor, like the other successful Marvel adaptations (especially the first Iron Man), is great fun, a rollicking good time.  It’s visually spectacular, with tremendous action, a likable protagonist and occasional laughs that hit the right spot.

Chris Hemsworth really buffed up for this role and does a solid job as the charming titular character, ensuring certain stardom for years to come.  Natalie Portman’s role is largely limited to ‘intelligent love interest’, but she’s always nice to look at and have around.  And when you have the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard and Rene Russo in supporting roles, you know things can’t be too bad.

Considering how badly things could have turned out, Thor was almost a minor miracle.  While it is certainly not perfect, I found myself taking all the ‘other worldly stuff’ seriously enough to be laughing along with the movie as opposed to laughing at it.  It was slightly uneven at times, given the contrast between Thor’s supernatural world of Asgard (reminded me of a futuristic Clash of the Titans-type place) and some ordinary small town in New Mexico, but for the most part it worked.

On the other hand, while Branagh is no doubt very capable in creating drama, I did find some of the fight scenes a little lacking.  Interestingly, it was the scenes that featured only actors and no special effects that worked best — the action scenes that relied heavily on CGI, probably because of the way they were shot (too many cuts), didn’t quite pack the same punch.

That said, I was impressed with how Branagh allowed Thor to be a part of the Marvel universe (in light of the upcoming The Avengers film) while giving the film its own voice and style.  Pulling off a film like this where the supernatural and science co-exist peacefully was no mean feat.  This was a terrific introduction to a character that I’ll be happy to see again when The Avengers is finally released in May 2012.

3.5 stars out of 5

PS: I saw this film in 2D, but it was bloody hard to find a cinema and a session that did not screen the film in 3D only.  Ridiculous.  Spare a thought for the people who don’t want to waste their money on 3D!

PPS: Look out for Jeremy Renner in an extended cameo.  I was surprised to see him but after some research it looks like he’ll be a key figure in The Avengers film.

PPPS: Make sure you stay until after the credits — there is a scene with Samuel L Jackson at the end which could potentially be relevant for The Avengers or a Thor sequel.


1. ianthecool - April 26, 2011

Glad to hear its fun. I hope to see it at some point. Also,I’m pretty sure most people should expect an after-credits epilogue for Marvel movies. Hope its actually worthwhile, unlike Iron Man 2.

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5. Nate - June 4, 2011

completely disagree on this one, mate. Yes, the action had much to be desired, but I felt like I was watching a two hour long preview for the Avengers just like Iron Man 2, and that has becoming completely irritating at this point with Marvel movies. I felt Thor story was shortchange to make room for all the avenger related crap, and thus his journey to deserve the hammer again didn’t feel real or complete to me, and I thought Natalie was totally misused and given a role that called for her to just look hornily at Thor. Chris Hems has screen presence and he’s quite charismatic, but marvel’s obsession with avengers failed his own movie. Hopefully the sequel will be better, and at this point, the Avengers better be the movie to end all superhero movies.

ianthecool - June 4, 2011

I didn’t feel like the avengers stuff as really all that dominant here, unlike in Iron Man 2. Yes, they had the hammer and took the research, but it seemed natural to have a government agency looking into these strange events.

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