Arriving in theaters with exactly the type of bombast befitting the film debut of the God of Thunder, Marvel Studios’ Thor is not only perhaps the most polished of Marvel Studios’ outings thus far—due in no small part to some excellent directing by Kenneth Branagh—but is also the most ambitious. After the relatively down-to-earth Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2, Thor brings a grand, otherworldly mythology to the cinematic Marvel Universe that will no doubt be expanded upon in this summer’s Captain America: The First Avenger and next summer’s highly anticipated film union of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, The Avengers.
The film kicks off when a team of researchers (played by Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård and Kat Dennings) comes across a strange phenomenon in the New Mexico desert. At the center of this supernatural occurrence—later revealed to be a wormhole to another realm—is a bulked-up drifter (Chris Hemsworth) claiming to be a Norse deity. While her teammates are wary of this potentially dangerous stranger, Portman’s character, Jane Foster, finds herself drawn to him. Could it be his piercing blue eyes, chiseled physique and lady-killing smile? Or does Jane somehow believe him when he says he is Thor Odinson, heir to the throne of Asgard?
Although we’re inclined to avoid people who claim to be Viking gods, Jane is right to trust Thor, who, after disobeying his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), is stripped of his powers and banished to Earth. In Thor’s absence, his calculating brother Loki (played to mischievous perfection by scene stealer Tom Hiddleston), seizes the opportunity to take the throne and claim what he believes is rightfully is. Assuming lordship over Asgard, Loki sets into action a treacherous plot that calls to mind several of the films in Branagh’s Shakespeare-heavy résumé. The film switches back and forth between Loki’s familial machinations on Asgard and Thor’s fish-out-of-water shenanigans on Earth, which can be jarring at times. But once Thor is reunited with his iconic hammer Mjolnir, both stories converge wonderfully for a fast-paced climax that hints at major things to come in the cinematic Marvel Universe.
Read my full review at Broken Frontier by clicking here.