Thor (2011) – Review by Roger Froilan

We all hoped that Iron Man wasn’t simply a fluke.  The fact that a lesser known (in the overall, non-comic reading populace) character could strike gold at the box office on a mainstream level could never be replicated any time soon, right?  Wrong!  The geniuses behind Thor proved that lightning CAN strike twice and is going to continue striking until the Avengers lay waste to scum and villainy everywhere!

While everyone involved was great, the kudos go to Kenneth Branagh and Chris Hemsworth for their devotion to the

craft and the construction of not only an entertaining film, but also a reverence and homage to a character that has

been around for over 40 years in comic book land, but has only ever seen one incarnation beyond animation andcomic books (okay, we won’t talk about “The Return of the Incredible Hulk”, which for its time, was all we had! *sigh*).

Branagh brings incredible depth and Shakespearean splendor to the story of Thor.  Only he could have taken this character and made it work on the big screen in what is his biggest film (budget, FX, etc.) to date!  Branagh has an innate ability to take characters and make them come to life in a way that we hadn’t realized could be done!  His handling of the special effects shows that he knows how to make them the backdrop, not the focus of the story.

The basic premise follows the Norse gods who reside in Asgard, a beautiful and lushly illustrated on screen.  Odin, played by the great Anthony Hopkins (second hardest working actor next to James Franco), is the all-father…the leader of the gods, and actual father to Thor and his brother Loki.  After the boys grow up, it is clear that Thor should be the rightful heir to the throne, and during a ceremony in which Odin would abdicate his place as king and name Thor his successor, a group of stone giants attack.  Thor, in his arrogance, leads an attack against the aggressor’s homeland, and goes overboard in his exuberance to prove himself worthy of kingship.  Odin gives Thor a backhand by banishing him to Earth for being an “arrogant and cruel boy”.  Odin also sends Thor’s hammer to Earth (the source of his power), but not before whispering the words “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor!”

What we get is a great story of brothers, both raised the same but turning out to lead very different lives, and a tale of a man who has to be slapped down a few notches in order to realize that he’s not the end all be all of things, but that people rely on his heroics and humanity.

Natalie Portman delivers a good performance. I got the impression that after being the Queen in those crappy Star Wars prequels and delivering a chilling performance in Black Swan, she was looking for respite in a somewhat normal character.  She plays the nutty scientist who, without looking for it, starts to fall for the godlike Thor.  It was nice to see her in a rather quaint role, and I felt that she liked doing it, too.

All the elements are here.  Those who know the comics will enjoy the Warriors Three, Sif, Loki, and all the things that make up a classic Marvel Thor story! Idris Elba plays Heimdall, and while walking in to the film I thought it odd that they would cast a black Norse god (for political correctness’ sake, even though it’s not accurate), I believed his performance as Heimdall,

guardian of the Rainbow Bridge.  He was awesome on the Brit show Luther, and I hope to see him in many more roles in years to come!  Stellan Skarsgard, who was great in Good Will Hunting and Deep Blue Sea, turns out to be the linchpin of this movie (I won’t say anymore…)  And let’s not forget Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, who only had brief cameos in the last couple of Marvel films.  He really starts to bring the whole thing home, leading up to the Avengers film.

And for those who are worrying, fear not!  Another, second tier, Marvel character makes his debut in this film, and once you realize who it is, you’re giddy with excitement for the Avengers!!!!

Don’t forget to sit through the end credits, as another Marvel nugget is cast our way!!! Thor is killing at the box office, and for good reason.  While it is a special effects extravaganza, Thor has a great deal of heart and soul that outweighs the effects, and Branagh delivers a story that is worthy of wielding the Hammer of Thor!!!

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