Caution: may contain some spoilers.
After the terrible black mark that Sucker Punch left on my soul I was in dire need of a movie that at the very least didn’t disappoint and insult. Or punish me with it’s awfulness.
Thor was just what was needed!
While not an Oscar caliber flick like The Dark Knight (really, what is?), Thor delivers in the key areas of action, story, character likableness, and heart. The general premise of course is that Thor (played with excellently playful charm and fun by Chris Hemsworth), the Norse God of Thunder, is real and lives in Asgard, one of the 9 realms. His father is Odin King or as they call him, All-Father. Thor is in line to become king but is a brash, loud, boorish, warmongering jackass who is really unworthy. Really, he’s a bit of a dick.
The beginning of the movie is awesome. Shows Asgard in all its imagined-in-my-head-for-years glory. The characters are all gods, but not portrayed in an over the top sense. Anthony Hopkins plays Odin just right. On that edge of scene chewing and stoic. Of course any great realm of gods have enemies, right? Well, those enemies are the Frost Giants of Jotunheim and they are spectacular. There is an uneasy peace between them thanks to Odin’s awesomery. Well, Thor wants to bash some Frost Giant heads like young bucks want to do and does some rash shit in Jotunheim with his cohorts The Warrior’s Three (Volstagg, Fandral, and Hogun), his childhood friend Sif, and his brother Loki. All these parts are played well with Ray Stevenson as Volstagg being a standout. They gave him some great lines. As you imagine, Thor and his gang fuck some shit up in Jotunheim (Thor especially. Some cool shit you have to see), and totally kill the peace. Odin rescues them and is really fucking pissed so he banishes Thor to New Mexico of all places and takes away Mjolnir, his enchanted hammer of bad-ass. Odin puts a spell on it allowing only the truly worthy may lift it and wield the power of Thor.
While on Earth the movie slows but I was never bored because this is where the majority of the humor takes place. It’s all fish-out-of-water type of humor, but funny nonetheless. Natalie Portman plays Jane Foster, Thor’s love interest from the comics. She is an astrophysicist and really not given much to do but say big words, look smart and stunningly beautiful, and then fawn over Thor like a Bieberette in almost every scene they’re in together. Not overdone, but silly nonetheless. It doesn’t ruin things because…well, it’s Natalie Portman, man! Her partners, Dr. Erik Selvig (played quietly by Stellan Skarsgard) and Darcy Lewis (played with great comic timing by Kat Dennings. Really, she steals the scenes she is in.) are there mostly for comic relief, which they provide quite well. During this time, a bunch of redneck yahoos discover Mjolnir. It has fallen to Earth in New Mexico as well but of course no one can lift it as it’s enchanted and whatnot. This is where Stan Lee’s cameo is. You have to pay attention for this one, but the crowd roared when it happened. Damn funny scene. Of course then S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Coulson show up on the scene and try to study Mjolnir before Thor comes in and tries to get it back. Fisticuffs ensue, Thor whoops that ass, but sadly realizes even he cannot lift Mjolnir at that moment.
While Thor was gone, his father fell into what they call the ‘Odin-sleep’. He does it periodically to recharge his godliness. Loki, ever the trickster and plotting douche, uses this opportunity to steal the throne and generally fuck up everyone’s day. While on Earth there is a battle sequence with Thor’s buddies who have come to rescue him from banishment. The sequence is all too short and should have been grander for what was at stake. Thor makes a sacrifice, and yada-yada-yada, he gets Mjolnir back, he ‘suits up’ and pounds the shit out of the creature sent to take him out. It feels a little like it was put in so that the Asgardian crew would have something to do in the middle of the movie. So Thor gets his swagger back and heads back to Asgard to confront Loki and be all kick ass with the help of the gatekeeper Heimdall (played with smoldering awesomeness by Idris Elba). Heimdall is the guardian of what they call the Bifrost. It’s essentially an Einstein-Rosen bridge. Basically a wormhole from one point in space to another. Of course this one is all pretty and sufficiently mythical in nature. Heimdall looks great and oozes bad motherfucker. Unfortunately, he isn’t given a ton to do other than stand all swoll and look intimidating. Hopefully in the inevitable sequels they come to their senses and give the brutha some ass whooping scenes of his own.
The climax of the movie takes place in Asgard with a showdown between Loki and Thor. Thor saves the day of course and learns his lesson that pricks are bad and he shouldn’t be one. A perfectly serviceable ending with humor and heart that probably set up part of the plotline for The Avengers.
Overall I give the movie 3.5 out of 5 stars. It was funny and the characters were more than just moving cardboard cutouts even with Jane Foster fawning. They were at least interesting and totally watchable while Thor wasn’t onscreen. The action was fast and showed all of Thor’s signature moves that we all love. The humor was perfectly placed and not wrung to death. However, my gripes are that the middle 1/3rd of the movie slowed some, we could have benefited from a longer action piece when the monster attacked the town Thor was in, and I would have liked to see more from S.H.I.E.L.D. For a national organization tasked with the defense of America from super-villain threats they come off too keystone cops-like at times. Also, the cameo by Clint Barton (Hawkeye, one of the members of the initial Avengers) should have been more. I would have liked to see what he could do! The excellent Jeremy Renner was sorely underused.
This was a great start to what I hope will be one of the greatest summer movie seasons of all time, especially in the genre of superhero movies! Good job to Kenneth Branagh for not ruining it like Ang Lee did with Hulk. Props to J. Michael Straczynski and Mark Protosevich for a good story writing job. Straczynski had several stints as a writer on the Thor comic so this was a good choice to provide the story for the film. Great casting job as well. Everyone gave the subject matter the geek reverence it deserved, but didn’t act like they were trying to pull off Shakespeare. The effects weren’t something you paid attention to, which means they were good. All in all, this is one to see. Also, stay past the end of the credits for an easter egg that sets up the primary plot for The Avengers.