The third Marvel character from the Avenger’s line up (and first tent-pole comic film of 2011) comes at us with a pretty solid adventure about the Asgardian Odinson. The most otherworldly member of the upcoming The Avengers film was quite a delight after the rather underplayed trailers and mixed reviews. Sometimes, depending on the material, an awe inspiring character in the comics can look just downright laughable on screen regardless of whether or not there’s a credible story to back it up.
But Kenneth Branagh‘s Thor takes what would just be a hokey series of costumes and set pieces and give us a somewhat weighty story powered fine acting. It yields a believable presence on par with something as visually astounding and epic as Cleopatra while still delivering the fun expected of a comic book film.
That said, Marvel Studios’ Thor, on its own, could have been a forgettable and pointless comic adaptation. He lies in that grey area between Marvel’s memorable A-List and forgettable B-List heroes. As such, his story can be overlooked as he just isn’t as relateable as those A-listers like Spider Man and even D.C.’s Batman. Most times a likable and iconic comic character’s silver screen debut can turn utterly disastrous or pointless if the story and characters themselves lack depth. Does anyone recall the plot of Ghost Rider or Daredevil? How about the movie itself? See what I mean. But, as it is one of the building blocks and stepping stones to the upcoming Avengers film, Thor may have its thin moments but it’s actually a decent film and, as intended, is part of (what is expected to be) a much grander whole.
The casting of Thor was brilliant and pretty much everyone (save for the wasted Rene Russo) was solid in their role. Kenneth Branagh brings his well-versed thespian background and gives us a tale that is less comic-booky and decidedly more Shakespearean. It’s now pretty obvious why he was a perfect candidate to direct this. Hemsworth certainly come a long way from his minimal part in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek and is a joy to watch as the titular Thor. While his character arc was short, forced and predictable it was still acceptable. Portman, who aside from No Strings Attached and Your Highness gives a good turn (although still not entirely clear why she was cast) and again proves she’s a capable and likable actress. But high points go to the brief and monotone Idris Elba as well as my unexpectedly favorite character, Loki. Tom Hiddleston‘s character twist was played subtlety and very well that by the half way mark I was actually glad to see more of him than Thor.
Now to be fair I really enjoyed myself. Thor wasn’t as bland as I’d been hearing and don’t quite know where the bad press and 3/10 reviews are coming from. Thor is a cog in a machine, make no mistake about it. As such, you can liken this film to putting up with some hit and miss trailers just to get to the movie you paid to see. But that might sound like I’m not giving it the credit it deserves.
Thor would be a pretty boring story is it was all about his being outcast, so the ties back to Asgard we not only welcomed but necessary in making this a story worth telling. To give further credit to film I have to laud first time comic director Kenneth Branagh for doing a fine job of balancing this story. The plot could have easily lost momentum (and interest) but was evenly played out evenly between the opulence of Asgard and banality of Earth. As a result, things never felt completely one side because whenever it felt boring as we took in the settings in rural Albuquerque, poof, we were whisked back to Asgard and all the wonderful eye candy and the other side of the story.
The only real detraction I would give the film is the direction of the story itself. If it were me I wish the story would have been more about Thor’s persistent arrogance through wars/battles with creatures on the other realms and less about his Earth-based redemption. Reason for that is I think it would be better to see his part of his The Avengers be how the team helps him regain his powers on Earth. I mean Thor is the most powerful of all The Avengers so what’s the point of starting the upcoming story about a team when right off the bat one member is so heavy-handed. I know that’s probably the genius in this Avenger’s master plan as all these separate films get all the origin/getting to know you stories out of the way. But it’d be nice to see Thor as the final key to completing the team to take on whatever foe they’ll face.
Not knowing really anything about Thor from the comics I don’t believe Branagh‘s film gave a completely fulfilling back story but then again I didn’t feel like anything was lacking to understand who and what Thor was. Again this is less about him and more about the lead up to The Avengers. The bits of humor thrown in help the bland Earth-based story go down easier and the acting was pretty top notch and that gave legitimacy to what would have otherwise been one-dimensional and forgettable characters. Still I’m excited and in a way thank this video for helping me underestimae Thor to the point that I really enjoyed it. One thing’s for sure, story aside, the production team crafted immensely beautiful and striking set pieces for Asgard. So much so that I’m mostly wanting to buy it on Blu Ray just so I can take it all in frame by frame.