For comic book geeks, the horizon looks very bright as comic book adaptations are beginning to be taken a bit more seriously after the recent success. With the unknowing success of Jon Favreau’s two Iron Man movies, Marvel Studio’s are heading to bigger names with both the Thor and Captain America movies lined up for this summer. The first of this summer is Kenneth Branagh’s high anti superhero flick before we get to experience Captain America: The First Avenger this June.
As the movie begins we meet Jane Foster (Natilie Portman) an enthusiastic (to say the least ) astrophysicist with her mentor Erik (Stellan Skarsgård) and the ironically unfunny comic relief Darcey (Kat Dennings) as they are searching for a cosmic occurrence which is unlike anything they’ve seen. What soon follows in the wake of it all is the discovery of a mysterious man they hit with their truck. The movie then truly begins at Oden (Anthony Hopkins) gets the audience up to day on a brewing war between Asgard and the Ice Giants. At first we see Thor as a war hungry warrior with little regard for life but between the squabbling with brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and the arrogant behaviour, Oden is finally left with banishing Thor to Earth in order to prove himself.
First thing to say about Thor is that you get everything you wanted (which I don’t mean in a good way). It is another dumb comic book movie with little real characters and very little staying power. Unlike The Dark Knight or Road to Perdition, which had a lot of character even though it was adapted material, Thor feels very safe and family friendly. It is understandable seeing how the budget was through the roof, however Branagh original vision was for Thor to be an art movie and it is hard to imagine what a movie like Thor would have been like in an art house cinema.
Whilst being completely stupid one moment, the movie is actually enjoyable in parts. Despite the heavy expository dialogue which is needed to keep the audience up to speed, when the movie is set on Earth everything feels very dumbed down. One moment we see an interesting story set in a fairly interesting world of Asgard only to be ironically disappointed like Thor himself when sent to Earth. It almost becomes a tease after we see impressive sets such as God-like halls and beautiful (but artificial) vistas only to going to middles of Arizona with annoying mortals. This is a problem when all the Earth sections equal up to roughly forty percent of the movie, and during that time the audience is left wondering what is happening in Asgard rather than the action on screen.
The story on Earth does potter along and grow more appealing towards the end after some unsurprising twists and turns as the two world merge. With the odd unfunny joke and a un-amusing racist remark (you’ll know it when you hear it) the film does take itself a little too seriously as S.H.E.I.L.D, who look like a bunch of idiots, attempt to look ‘cool’ in front of the superheroes. And with the comic book references and nods to The Avengers movie, fans of the source material will enjoy looking out for all the little secrets which does make the movie more appealing.
It is strange seeing a now prestigious actress such as Natalie Portman (after the recent award season) take a role so easy as Jane the one dimensional character but it is her co-star Kat Dennings who takes the award for being one of the most truly annoying on screen appearance in cinema this year (and after Nick & Noah’s Infinite Playlist she is turning out to be an very obnoxious actress). Chris Hemsworth (who was last seen in Star Trek) does a believable job as the God of Thunder and appears to have fun with it. Along with him Tom Hiddleston as Loki and Idris Elba as Heimdall the movie is redeemed and pulled together.
Apart from some stupid set scenes and boring action sequences, the scenes in Asgard do revive the movie and make it worth a watch. Marvel fans will go on multiply viewings but they will be alone with a lot of the children audiences as the movie only asks for the one viewing before Marvel Studio’s next summer blow up Captain America: The First Avenger.
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