Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Premise: An adaptation of the Marvel comic book. A warrior of Norse mythology (Chris Hemsworth) is banished from his home world of Asgard and lands on Earth. Once here, Thor befriends a physicist (Natalie Portman) and attempts to find a way back home.
What Works: Thor is intended to be light popcorn entertainment and as that it is acceptable although by no means outstanding. The action scenes are standard comic book fare and the visuals, although impressive, are not distinguishable from anything in many other science fiction and fantasy pictures. Thor is largely saved from being a completely bland film by its actors. Chris Hemsworth is well cast as Thor. He has the presence and physical build for the role but he also has a great sense of comic timing and manages to insert a lot of laughs into the film. Anthony Hopkins, in the few scenes he is in, has an effectively troubled relationship with Thor and the father-son relationship gives the film a little bit of dramatic weight and organic emotion set against the film’s digital background.
What Doesn’t: Thor is intended to introduce the title character in preparation for The Avengers, set to release in the summer of 2012. This is evidenced by the numerous references to other film adaptations of Marvel’s comic book characters such as Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk as well as cameos by the characters Hawkeye and Nick Fury, played Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson, respectively. But Thor never justifies its own existence. Instead it plays like a protracted prologue to the upcoming film rather than a story in and of itself. The story of Thor is intended to convey the transformation of a rash, selfish, and arrogant person into a patient, temperate, and gracious hero. But the film contains no set pieces or turning points in which Thor actually learns these things so his conversion is dramatically unearned.
Bottom Line: Thor is a middling movie, a two-hour space holder intended to introduce film audiences to another character in the Marvel pantheon and warm us up for the main attraction, which won’t arrive until next summer. It isn’t a bad movie but it is a wasted opportunity to do something better.
Episode: #339 (May 15, 2011)