Impressive in scale and design and featuring a star making turn from its leading man, Thor is a dazzling example of the superhero movie done right.
Thor is also a film of two worlds. The first is the space kingdom of Asgard, the home of immortal gods that is stunning in its architectural design. The second is Earth, with small town America the main setting for this battle of the gods.
The main link between both worlds is Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the cocky god of thunder, owner of majestical hammer Mjollnir and son of the “All Father” Odin (Anthony Hopkins). When Thor breaks the peace with Asgard’s long time enemy the Frost Giants, he is stripped of his power and banished to Earth where he must learn humility.
As Thor gathers his bearings and slowly falls in love with earthling Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), his scheming brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) stirs up trouble back on Asgard, claiming the throne as his own while plotting the demise of Thor and his new home. Needless to say, these brothers fall out of love very quickly.
The director of Thor is Kenneth Branagh, the British all rounder whose love for all things Shakespeare is well known. When Marvel first announced his participation many questioned the choice, yet after watching the film it is obvious why he was chosen, because above all things Thor is a film about a family at war, with much drama to be found in its familial conflicts as two sons strive to succeed their father.
Yet don’t let that dampen your action craving spirits, for this is a hammer swinging adventure of the highest quality, with Branagh proving to be a capable director of VFX heavy action cinema, injecting his fight sequences with fun and style. The difference between Thor and other similar fantasy romps is that there are stakes to the actions of the characters.
And what an impeccably casted group they are. Of course Oscar winners Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman bring the desired strengths as imposing deity and giddy love interest respectively, yet it’s the little known actors that impress the most, such as Thor’s warrior comrades played by the likes of Jaimie Alexander and Ray Stevenson, and Tom Hiddleston who is pitch perfectly brilliant as the conniving Loki.
But Thor is the name on the marquee, and it is Chris Hemsworth who shines the brightest. In look and action, the Australian thesp is every part the God of Thunder, proving himself worthy of playing one of comic-don’s enduring characters. Yet perhaps more importantly is that in this time of children vigilantes and masked psychpaths, Thor presents himself as a superhero of honour and value, in part reminding of another super powered, red cape draped hero from another planet.
The addition of cheeky references to other characters, some nice cameos, and smoother links to the eventual Avengers release makes Thor a fun, excitement film which should be enjoyed by both fan and newcomer, and secure Hemsworth's place as the new prince of Hollywood.