Review: Thor (2011)

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman

In a year seemingly overrun by comic book adaptations, one may wonder to him or herself just why studios have felt the need to forgo traditional summer blockbusters in favor of pumping out the former in rapid succession. Like others before it, Thor reaps the benefits that coincide with this never-before-seen corner of the Marvel universe, at least in terms of translating the Norse God’s tale to the big screen. As reassuring as this may be, it shouldn’t necessarily get one’s hopes up considering past Marvel entries fitting the same description have been nothing short of travesties (I’m looking at you, Fantastic Four). Fortunately for us, director Kenneth Branagh has managed to breathe new life into the admittedly cookie-cutter superhero flick formula, bringing to the table everything a film of its type should often showcase in an attempt to do the source material justice.

Thor’s always struck me as an interesting character, yet not just because of his goofy Norse outfit and cunning. While at once arrogant and obviously spoiled on account of his being the heir to his father’s throne, Thor himself must soon come to terms with the repercussions his actions have brought about while simultaneously attempting to mature for the sake of his ailing kingdom. Suggesting an air of humanity that should be present throughout each and every Earth-based sequence, it’s safe to say that said humanity should and is exhibited to the fullest in spite of Thor‘s penchant for lightheartedness. Goofy as it may be, Thor strikes a perfect balance between this quality and the seriousness of Thor’s predicament in struggling to restore order to his beloved Asgard to the best of his ability.

The action present throughout the film and the visual panache it carries with it is top notch, and the scenes that take place on Asgard are equally admirable from a purely visceral standpoint, as strange as that type of descriptor may seem given how poorly the 3D’s been implemented. Interactions between characters are engaging, the dialogue’s appropriately witty and the script itself remains as interesting as anything based on traditional superhero lore can be. Even those self-deemed “fanboys” of the Thor mythology will find it hard to pinpoint anything unfavorable by way of storytelling, although such a detail does suggest that individuals looking for a traditional, accessible comic book adaptation won’t be taken by everything Thor has to offer by way of minute details and most of what takes place on Earth’s surface.

Chris Hemsworth as the God of Thunder himself handles the role deftly and with relative ease, embodying every one of the hero’s physical and underlying attributes in a surprisingly convincing manner. His charisma alone is enough to substantiate most of the claims I’ve made pertaining to the film’s prowess as an above average Marvel comic adaptation, yet to neglect Hopkins, Portman and the rest of the supporting cast would be rather unfair. The talent in question compliments Hemsworth’s portrayal of our protagonist wonderfully, and it’s hard not to acknowledge the chemistry that compensates for some of Thor‘s weaker points that are brought about as a result of a relatively thin yet satisfactory narrative. Tom Hiddleston as Loki aptly fits the bill as Thor’s meddlesome, envious brother with ulterior motives that threaten to tear Asgard to the ground, and the inclusion of several other characters amidst all these top-notch efforts ensures that The Avengers will surely pack a punch come 2012.

As a quality piece of entertainment, Thor surely doesn’t disappoint, although those looking for something in the same vein as those other successful entries into the Marvel subgenre may or may not appreciate it for the same reasons. There’s a lot to like about Branagh’s take on the hero in question, including some mildly sensitive direction that ensures a competent balance between the film’s comic and slightly more serious moments, as well as the requisite amount of mayhem and a stellar cast that adequately portrays those part of Thor’s universe with ease in light of intermittent bouts of silliness. Enjoy it as I did, it’s hard to compare Thor to other recent successes such as Iron Man, yet the film does manage to bring something else to the table that other films of its type have failed to: a heart. Long story short, Thor isn’t your typical comic book movie, which is precisely why I found more to like than dislike about it, but needless to say, such a statement will obviously have the opposite effect on those expecting the next big thing from Marvel.

Rating: 7/10

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