Thor (2011)

Thor (2011)
  Director:  Kenneth Branagh
  Writers:  Ashley Miller (screenplay), Zack Stentz (screenplay)
  Stars:  Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman

This film is based on the Marvel Comic book character Thor, based on the Norse legends of the past.  In this film adaptation, the Asgardians are a mostly benevolent race of superior beigns who were mistakenly worshipped by Scandinavians as 'gods.' These 'gods' use a mixture of magic and science, so much so that their own technology appears magical and supernatural.  The Asgardians have guarded the nine realms of the universe against the Frost Giants (not the ones from the Power Rangers. These are blue and mean).  We begin the film with the Mighty Allfather, Odin, ready to pass the throne to Thor, god of Thunder.  However, the ceremony is interrupted and all sorts of secrets and chaos ensue.  A cadre of frost giants invade Asgard and try to make off with the casket of winters, the former possession of the frost giants that made them all powerful.  The theft is stopped.  Thor then disobeys his father and brings the universe to the brink of war.  He is cast from Asgard for his arrogance and is forced to live among the Earthlings on Midgard, where he meets a girl and realizes what it takes to be not just a berserk warrior, but a wise protector and king.

I must admit that I had my doubts about this film as it went through production.  I was uncertain of the star, Chris Hemsworth, and whether he could pull off being the thunder god.  However, my fears were unfounded.  Hemsworth pulls off the role excellently.  He portrays both Thor the arrogant boy at the beginning of the film with brashness worthy of Volstagg the enormous himself. Loki oozes deceit and evil at almost every turn. Likewise, Hemsworth's portrayal of Thor's journey to wisdom and humility is both poignant and at times, hilarious.  Anothony Hopkins chews up frost giants and scenery as Odin, the all father.  He masterfully portrays the emotional conflict of a father torn between two sons, between love and the need to teach lessons.  The one sad bit of casting was Natalie Portman.  Yes, she is hot, but quite frankly, I have never thought of her as a very good actress.  In this film, she seems to just be mailing it in and this makes her character as unbelievable as Denise Richards in her Bond Girl role as a nuclear physicist.  Director Kenneth Branaugh combines his past director experience to bring us both tragedy and comedy in this film.  He brings us the majesty of Hamlet with a twist of sly humor.  There is much to love about this film, especially the familiar SHIELD agent Colson.  Comic fans will see all sorts of homage to the Thor and Avengers mythos.  We are even introduced to a certain Avenger who is a fan of the quiver and bow.  Look for the obligatory Stan Lee cameo, although this one is neither as sly nor as satisfying as past ones.  Look also for key elements of the Thor mythos like Sif, the Warriors Three, Heimdall the guardian of the rainbow bridge.  All of these were excellently handled by writer, actors, and director.  The warriors three seem to leap right off the pages of Thor and onto the screen.  Branaugh and the cast (with the exception of Portman) make you believe that the Norse gods walked and do walk among us again, that if you look to the sky on a stormy night, you might just see Thor Odinson wielding Mjiolnir in the heavens bringing down the lightning.  The explanations of the hows and whys of Asgardian magic and the whole explanation of the mythology are done with a modern and believable story.  The visuals are outstanding, and Bifrost the rainbow bridge is outstanding.  The customary foreshadowing of the next Marvel movie was the most lame yet, but that does not hinder the overall feel of Thor as a successful adaptation of a well loved character.  It goes alongside the first Iron Man as an excellent Marvel movie.

New Hope Patriot Missile Rating:
4 Shields out of 5
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