Interrupted moments before his coronation by an attempted theft of a powerful weapon by an ancient enemy, powerful, popular but arrogant heir to the throne Thor (Chris Hemsworth) decides to exact revenge on the perpetrators. He enlists the help of his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and friends Sif (Jaimie Alexander), Volstagg (Ray Stephenson), Fandral (Josh Dallas) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) he attacks the Frost Giants in their home planet of Jotunheim. If all this already sounds a bit ho-hum, stay with it as it’s done so well and is great fun. There’s a fantastic battle between Thor’s warriors and the Frost Giants, however when all seems lost our heroes are rescued by Thor’s father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Odin is furious at the arrogant and impetuous Thor who is stripped of his powers, cast out of the realm of Asgard and banished to Earth.
Crashing to earth in the New Mexico desert, Thor is rescued/run over by astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings) and mentor Dr Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard). Thor struggles to adapt to this new world; it is these moments which add much needed humour that helps to take the edge off the Norse god scenes. Thor and Jane are intrigued by each other and develop a close relationship. Thor’s hammer, the source of his power, has also landed in the desert and is quarantined by S.H.I.E.L.D agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). When Thor discovers this, with Janes help he tries to retrieve the hammer, but after beating up countless agents he is unable to lift the hammer, he is not worthy to do so… yet.
Meanwhile back in Asgard, Odin is taken ill and collapses; Loki assumes power and upholds Thors banishment. Loki also tries to take the hammer but cannot lift it; he sends a powerful weapon called the Destroyer to destroy Thor and the New Mexican town. During a fantastic battle Thor offers himself as a sacrifice to save his friends, Jane and the town, this is the key to his worthiness to wield the hammer.
I was initially sceptical about this movie not being much of a fan of the Thor comic books. I always found it difficult to allow the necessary suspension of disbelief to enjoy Thor fighting alongside Captain America, Iron Man and the Hulk, all of whom are products of science. I was wrong, the movie is so well made and so much fun; it’s littered with references to the previously released Iron Man and the upcoming Captain America, as well as a cameo from Jeremy Renner as archer Hawkeye.
The movie looks incredible; the design department have created a fantastical world in Asgard, both the set design and costumes look amazing. The Frost Giants and Destroyer are awesome looking foes.
Kenneth Branagh has done a wonderful job bringing the disparate elements together and as mentioned earlier he really blends the separate worlds well, mixing the ‘Shakespearean Asgard gravitas and dialogue’ with the more realistic modern day earth. I thought he was an unusual choice as director, although admittedly from my point of view his involvement was a reason to see the movie.
As expected from Branagh he handles the sibling rivalry, family feuds and weighty dialogue with the necessary gravitas garnered from his extensive Shakespearean knowledge. The movie could have come across as incredibly ‘hammy’ but instead ends up being a fun romp and the front runner for popcorn flick of the year to this point. Hopefully this acts as the reboot to his Hollywood career.
The cast are all good, we know what to expect from the likes of Hopkins, Portman and Skarsgard but Chris Hemsworth is a revelation in the titular role. I was unsure what to expect but he handles the muscular action scenes, ridiculous language, romance and humour equally well. If he chooses his next few roles well he should have a bright future.
Great fun if you’re looking for a blockbuster with big action, huge set pieces and its tongue firmly in cheek. Some scary scenes with the Frost Giants for really young kids but they’re more than likely to complain about the running time than those action scenes.
Quality: 4 out of 5 stars
Any good: 4 out of 5 stars