Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thor (2011)

In honor of the The Avengers being released, here is the original review I did for last year's Thor, originally published on May 6, 2011.


The Director: Kenneth Branagh
The Writers: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne
The Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan SkarsgÄrd, Kat Dennings, Clark Gregg, Idris Elba, Colm Feore, Ray Stevenson
The Producer: Kevin Feige

Release Date: May 6, 2011
The Running Time: 114 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1
Language: English

Whosoever wields this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.


Thor is the mighty but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions that enters his mythic realm of Asgard into war with the fearsome Frost Giants. He is cast down to Earth as punishment, with his power stripped from him. Now as his deceitful brother Loki plots to take over the throne, Thor must regain his power and find his way back home.



Ever since Marvel started taking over production of their properties starting with the X-Men franchise in 2000, their iconic characters have been treated with a lot more respect on the big screen. Certainly there were some missteps like Elektra or Hulk… and let’s all forget about Spider-Man 3. But overall, they’ve been great cinematic treats for comic book geeks every where. Marvel especially has done a phenomenal job in building the Avengers brand, starting with the outstanding 2008 film Iron Man. Followed by The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2, each of these films has connected with the next. Thor is the next in the series, followed by this summer’s Captain America: The First Avenger and culminating with next year’s The Avengers. Marvel knows what they’re doing because they are their characters and know exactly which direction to take them.


When I heard that Branagh was directing this film, I had my doubts. As a director he’s mostly known for directing Shakespearean adaptations like Hamlet and Henry V… not exactly action movies, let alone super hero genre pictures. I was afraid he would either not treat the characters with respect, or worse, try to over-interpret them like Ang Lee did in 2003′s Hulk. But it turns out his Shakespearean background works perfectly telling the story of a dying father (Odin) dealing with the succession of the throne between his two sons (Thor and Loki). Also, his camera work is stylish and yet not distracting, and he keeps the story moving, giving you enough action beats and plot developments along the way.


The depiction of Asgard, which could have been disastrously cheesy, looks really, really cool on the big screen. Unlike the Star Wars prequels which are 100% green screen, Thor uses a combination of green screen AND real sets. Come Oscar time, I hope this film gets some attention for the Art Direction. On top of that, the costumes don’t look good as well. They look functional and also cool. You buy that these are things the Norse gods would wear.


One of the biggest threats Thor faces in the film is The Destroyer, which is essentially a 20 foot tall robot with spikes covering his entire body and a face that can blow you up. Seriously. It looks like this and it’s by far the coolest thing in the film.


Much like Iron Man 1 & 2 and The Incredible Hulk… make sure you stay after the credits to catch a neat little Easter Egg. Also an unadvertised cameo from another marvel hero in the middle of the film will keep comic geeks happy.

Overall, Thor is a fun, entertaining and thoroughly geek-satisfying comic book superhero movie and a great way to start the summer blockbuster season.


It’s in theatres TODAY!