Directed: Kenneth Branagh
M: Action Violence
The 4th entry into the MCU follows the god of thunder, Thor, and his quest for redemption. His desperation to prove his worthiness to sit on the throne of Asgard is his undoing as he is cast to earth. On earth he must learn what it means to be worthy to wield Mjolnir and defeat his brother Loki, the god of mischief.
Thor is a solid origin film full of wonder, action, humour with very strong Shakespearean roots. It delivers on exactly the film it had set out to tell, but as the early days of Marvel still trying to work everything out, it still suffered from a few baby step wobbles.
Right out of the gate, we can tell that Thor is different, but feels familiar. Most of the story takes place in Asgard, one of the 9 realms, with Earth (or Midgard) and Jotunheim as the other locations. The set pieces and designs of Asgard look fantastic and really help to differentiate the separate realms as individual places. Even the Frost Giant’s world of Jotunheim looks different again to give us this feeling of a larger world than what we have seen thus far.
The visuals of the film are a stand out for their time and everything outside of earth looks amazing.
Chris Hemsworth is the charming and fantastic lead. Before his banishment to earth, he plays a very simple warring boy in the body of the manliest man to ever man. Yet as the film goes along and he grows, so to do we see more sides to Thor and his transformation feels genuinely earned by the end.
The breakout star of the film however is given to Tom Hiddleston who plays Loki, the god of mischief, and Thor’s brother. He commands every scene he’s in and he brings more nuance to the character, both when he’s talking and when he isn’t. Tom plays Loki with a subtle approach to give us a much more interesting villain.
Anthony Hopkins plays Odin, the father to Thor and Loki. He shines as Odin, but his character isn’t utilised nearly as much, and it is a disappointment to see him reduced for half of the film.
Natalie Portman plays the scientist and love interest to Thor, Jane Foster. Her initial dedication to finding out whether her predictions are correct and who Thor is and where he’s from are an interesting part to her character. But, when they bog her down with a mundane romance, she loses some of that initial interest.
Idris Elba as the all-seeing Heimdall, is also a top addition to the cast and roster of characters.
There are a couple of cool cameos from Phil Coulson, who appeared in the previous two Iron Man films, and the very first and early introduction of Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner.
The villains, particularly Loki, are the strongest parts of the film. While Loki’s motivations and allegiances shift faster than Thor can call lightning from the sky, his emotional complexities are on full display for us to witness and we feel for Loki, even if we don’t agree with him. A tragic multi-layered character with understandable desires.
Laufey as the King of the Frost Giants is commanding and sinister, but his time on screen is short and there isn’t much there to flesh him out beyond a mildly generic villain.
The story is a pretty generic tale of learning what it means to become self-less. While, his time on earth is meant to be that catalyst, living amongst mortals, it just doesn't mesh well with the rest of the film in Asgard. However, the ending with serious consequences to Thor, Loki and Jane are a nice change and addition to something that could have ended on a really easy happy note. Its a little bit bittersweet.
The action scenes are fairly decent with clever uses of Thor’s and Loki’s abilities in whatever scene they’re in. The close fight scenes weren’t too bad, but the best scenes are by far when Thor uses Mjolnir, his magical hammer, in clever fashion, using it to conduct lightning, thrown through his enemies or to smash things. Marvel rarely gets their action wrong and they know how to balance the fun, grit of the fight and character lines quite well.
The movie has a lot more laughs with Chris Hemsworth’s charm and charisma dominating much of the jokes. On earth he takes much of the comedy punishment as various forms of fish out of water and slapstick jokes are utilized.
The strongest scenes are whenever the story remains in Asgard, whether with Thor or Loki, as this is where the bulk of the Shakespearean dialogue and story is seen.
What lets the film down is its time spent on earth and the very loose and mundane love interest between Thor and Jane Foster. Earth drags the film along in the wrong places, slowing Thor down and keeping him separate from the real action.
While Thor is sent to earth to learn what it means to be worthy, by becoming unworthy, the film loses a lot of the momentum it had by spending too much time trying to explain the magic or science behind his arrival and whether Asgardians are real.
The love relationship between the Thor and Jane is also a bit weak on the ground, seemingly rushed and without much depth beyond the briefest of encounters.
The post-credits scene is very important moving forward, teasing us with several key features as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to chug along, always heading forward towards the next thing.
Thor fulfils its promise, mixing new worlds, Shakespearean characters, power of the gods and a now recognised marvel formula all into one. It doesn’t try to push further than what it has established. While stuck between the fantastical world of Asgard and the mundane world of earth, it does serve as an adequate introduction to the Mighty Thor and to one of the MCU’s best villains.
7 out of 10 stars.