Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba, Colm Feore
Plot: Thor, the God of Thunder, is banished from Asgard by his father Odin, due to his recklessness and arrogant actions that results in reigniting an ancient feud. On Earth, he meets Jane Foster, a scientist who takes an interest in him and a romance begins. Meanwhile, Thor's stepbrother Loki usurps the throne and conspires with the enemy in an attempt to become King of Asgard.
Review: Marvel based films usually kickstart the summer blockbuster season, and this year it's Thor's turn to debut. It's obvious that Thor is yet another film to come out of Marvel's stable that is a prelude to next year's The Avengers, and as a popcorn flick, it does not disappoint.
Kenneth Branagh, who happens to be a Thor fan, seems to be the perfect man to direct this film, and it shows. The realm of Asgard is just a sight to behold, looking mostly golden and shiny, like a palace in heaven. In contrast, Jotunheim, the home of the Frost Giants, enemies of Asgard, is dark and icy. The Asgardian costumes, especially the battle armors are damn impressive. So as far as set design and costumes go, Branagh has that well covered.
The visual effects are also very well done. All the battle scenes requiring CGI were well executed, the one that stood out the most is the one between Thor, Loki and his friends versus the Frost Giants. It kinda reminded me of Lord Of The Rings in the way it was pulled off, and I loved it.
However, it is the performances of the cast that must matter the most, and thankfully Chris Hemsworth is perfect for the role of Thor. Initially starting off as brash and stubborn, he eventually softens up and learns some humility while on Earth, thanks to the lovely Jane Foster, played by Oscar winner Natalie Portman. Now, as much as I adore her, I felt that she was quite miscast here. Not only is her romance with Thor a bit unconvincing, she doesn't quite pass off as a scientist either. But for me, Natalie isn't someone who gives anything less than 100% in any role she takes, so for the most part, she is decent enough in her role.
Tom Hiddleston gets the villainous role of Loki, and he seems like someone who'd you sympathise with at first. Loki is revealed to be an adopted child halfway through the film, which reinforces his desire to prove himself worthy of the throne, and to that end he is willing to do anything, even betray his family and lie to his brother. Hiddleston pulls off that part well, but I do wish he had shown some more of his dark side at the film's climax, because he came off as a tad pathetic at that moment. As for Anthony Hopkins, well...you couldn't pick a better actor than him to be Thor's father. Hopkins always has great screen presence and he brings it here.
The film benefits also from a talented supporting cast, some who hit the mark, and some who don't. Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings play Jane Foster's colleagues, the former as the serious mentor, while the latter as the comic relief. Both are effective enough. Clark Gregg resumes his role as Agent Coulson from SHIELD, which is always appreciated. Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano and Josh Dallas play Thor's friends The Warriors Three, who unfortunately don't get enough screentime, but I do love Jaimie Alexander as Sif, she sure is gorgeous to look at. Idris Elba is rather disappointing as Asgardian gatekeeper Heimdall, while poor Rene Russo is underused as Thor's stepmother Frigga. Colm Feore is near unrecognisable as Laufey, King of the Frost Giants, but manages to make quite a lasting impression.
Other than a slow middle third portion of the film, and Portman's miscasting, I can't think of anything that I dislike about Thor. It may not be as entertaining as Iron Man or the action packed The Incredible Hulk, but to his credit, Branagh has successfully created a superhero film that is more Shakespearian than slam bang. Whether you're looking forward to The Avengers next year or you're simply someone who wants to have a good time at the movies, you can't go wrong with Thor. (4/5)
A few things to take note of:
1. Look out for the customary Stan Lee cameo
2. A future member of The Avengers makes a quick appearance here.
3. Stay till the credits finish rolling for one final scene.