Film Review: Thor

Everyone seems to get their own superhero movie these days. Even Thor, well known but not the most popular of Marvel characters. It is refreshing that these lesser heroes take the spotlight once in a while, a break from the frequent instalments and re-imaginings featuring the most popular comic book protagonists (Spiderman, to name but one).

Brave and brash Thor has always been confident that he would become king. When his coronation ceremony is interrupted, Thor seeks revenge and inadvertently reignites an ancient war. Cast out of Asgard by his father Odin, Thor is banished to Earth…

Thor is an entertaining blockbuster that should please fans of the comic and general cinemagoers alike. The narrative is what one would expect from this genre. It is neither disappointing nor illuminating. Still, Thor distinguishes itself from its contemporaries as much of the action takes place in a fantasy realm. Even the scenes set on Earth occur in indistinct surroundings; the dessert of New Mexico instead of Spiderman‘s New York or The Green Hornet‘s Los Angeles.

Momentum is good in Thor; director Kenneth Branagh keeps the action moving. There is a good balance of action set pieces and conversation-heavy scenes. The ‘fish out of water’ comedy works well, and is a good contrast to the grandiose nature of what is at stake in the film.

Effects in the film are generally good, although some sequences are heavily laden with CGI. Not much in either of the two other-worlds looks real, but perhaps that is the point. Art direction in the fantasy realm scenes is fantastic; there is a real sense of spectacle. The use of 3D is inoffensive. It is easy to forget that the film is in 3D. While it is certainly a good thing that the use of 3D is not distracting, there does not seem to be a point in paying extra to see Thor this way.

Chris Hemsworth offers a good performance as Thor. He looks appropriate for the role, and offers a sincerity that is believable. Anthony Hopkins is decent as Odin, although the actor seems destined to play the grand patriarch for the rest of his career. Tom Hiddleston is suitably ambiguous as Loki. Natalie Portman has little opportunity to show range, thanks to the lack of character development.

With the references to other characters in the Marvel realm, Thor feels at times merely a precursor to the hotly-anticipated movie The Avengers. Nonetheless, Branagh’s well-crafted film is very entertaining.