I admit that I didn't go into Thor with overly high expectations. I was basically expecting a cheesy and rowdy superhero flick with lots of over-the-top action, some eye candy (both in terms of explosions/effects and the cast), and not much more. I was rather pleasantly surprised.
I wasn't ever a huge Thor fan as a kid. I'd seen him in some of the various Saturday morning cartoons but his was never a comic I followed. My High School touted the Vikings as our mascot, so I had a fair knowledge of Norse mythology and in general I really enjoy the Norse mythos. It's a lot of fun.
The first ~5 minutes of the movie are basically an extended version of a bunch of the shots from the trailer. Immediately after that, we're taken on a flashback to show Thor's history and bring us up to speed. The presentation of Asgard and of the history of Thor and his family/people was very well done. The scenery was fabulous. The effects were great. The narrative unraveling of the history was logical and interesting. And the casting was well done…I especially liked the boy cast as "young Thor" and how much his appearance and mannerisms look like he truly could be a young version of the older Thor we spend the rest of the movie with.
The main plot was somewhat predictable and trite (cocky hero needs to learn to find his inner strength/worth/humility/etc) but was well presented. I especially loved some of the commentary between Thor and Odin about the proper attributes of a leader/hero. I really think the writer & director did a great job of making sure this overused theme didn't come off as totally lame. Thor's growth as a character felt natural (albeit a little strained at times, but I write that off to time constraints)
Knowing what I knew generally about Norse history and about some of these characters, I wasn't surprised at all by the reveal of the "villain" in the film. He was devious and fun…though perhaps a little too restrained at times. Still, that can make sense as he was working through subtleties and derision.
The casting was fabulous. From the first trailers, I felt Chris Hemsworth was cast perfectly as Thor…he just LOOKS like a Norse god. :) I was a bit nervous about Anthony Hopkins. Even though I really like his acting I wasn't sure I saw him as Odin…but he did very well and was quite believable. Tom Hiddleston as Loki was good but I would've liked more from Loki in general. I've always been a Natalie Portman fan and I felt like she did a good job though I felt like she was upstaged a bit by the secondary female lead Kat Dennings.
The "romance" between Thor and Jane felt a bit rushed and unrealistic…but realism isn't exactly a pressing issue in films like this, right??? I would have liked to have seen more interaction with S.H.I.E.L.D. but generally it felt like a decent balance. Be sure to stick around after the final credits for the Avengers-Tie-In with Nick Fury.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film and look forward to seeing Thor as a key member of the Avengers. I was also pleased to see Hawkeye make an appearance…I really hope he survives to show up more in the future. I wasn't sure what to think about Kenneth Branagh directing a super hero film, but he did a great job. Unless you're absolutely anti super hero movies, you should enjoy Thor.
4 out of 5 stars
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