FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: Thor (2011)
THOR WIELDS A WINNER…
I’m a Wayne Stellini and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is Thor…
When his reckless actions reignites an ancient war, Asgard warrior Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is stripped of his godly power and banished to Earth, accompanied by his hammer Mjölnir, which is now protected by an enchantment that allows only the worthy to wield it.
Landing in New Mexico, he is discovered by astrophysicist Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her assistant Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), and mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård). When Thor learns of the Mjölnir’s location, he sets out to retrieve it, unaware that his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has taken the throne of Asgard and that the evil Destroyer is headed for Earth…
Working best as a fish out of water story, Kenneth Branagh’s Thor is a consistently entertaining adventure that sticks to a familiar blueprint without ever feeling tiresome. Blending Norse mythology with comic book fantasy, the complicated plot is made accessible through an opening narration, exposition, and even being explained through a diagram (literally) at some point. This may, on the surface, sound a bit heavy-handed, but these storytelling methods are presented and brought together in a manner that feels natural; a difficult thing to accomplish for even the most skilled scriptwriters and directors.
Better still, there is a strong sense of fun about Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, and Don Payne’s screenplay. From the operatic melodrama on Asgard to the more straight-playing scenes in New Mexico, Branagh and cast treat the story and their characters with respect; while the commanding grandeur of Thor is impressive in his home realm, he is the source of humour on Earth, but we are never laughing at him. This, of course, comes down to Chris Hemsworth’s likeable portrayal of our titular hero, who is a beautiful mixture of strength, vulnerability, and charm.
Likewise, Natalie Portman is unsurprisingly exceptional as Dr. Jane Foster, a refreshingly three-dimensional love interest who is far more involved in the unfolding plot than most of her contemporaries are or predecessors have ever been. She is supported wonderfully by a scene-stealing Kat Dennings, who may not have much to do but does so much with what she’s given, and Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise regular Clark Gregg is always a joy to watch. On Asgard, Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo deliver strong performances with minimal effort, but it must be said that Tom Hiddleston is the one to watch here, who is a natural as Thor’s mischievous and more layered brother Loki.
With well-choreographed and sharply edited action sequences, enhanced with more-often-than-not impressive visual effects, and a terrific score, Thor not only adds to its franchise but is fun popcorn entertainment in its own right. 4 / 5
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Colm Feore, Ray Stevenson, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Rene Russo, Anthony Hopkins, Tadanobu Asano, Josh Dallas, Jaimie Alexander, Clark Gregg, Adriana Barraza, Maximiliano Hernández, Joseph Gatt, Joshua Cox, Douglas Tait, Stan Lee, J. Michael Straczynski, Walter Simonson, Samuel L. Jackson [uncredited], Jeremy Renner [uncredited].
Director: Kenneth Branagh | Producer: Kevin Feige | Writers: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne; Story: J. Michael Straczynski, Mark Protosevich (based on Thor by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby) | Music: Patrick Doyle | Cinematographer: Haris Zambarloukos | Editor: Paul Rubell
Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!
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