“For Asgard!” A Review of Marvel’s “THOR”

Marvel Studios’ Thor is one epic journey that should not be taken by the faint of heart. Many people thought it couldn’t be done. They asked, “How are you gonna do Thor?” The comics are full of magic, myth and action; a challenge to put onto the screen. When it was announced that Kenneth Branagh would be directing, I was in doubt. Branagh, being a classically trained, Shakespearian actor wouldn’t know his way around a comic book movie! But you can’t knock it until you experience it and Thor…is one hell of an experience.

When you sit to watch Marvel Studios’ latest entry in its cinematic universe, and the skies literally open in front of your eyes, you will be awed by the grand scale of epicness that is Asgard: a bright galaxy all its own, glistening in gold. The visuals of this movie are stunning; rushing waterfalls, the crystalline Rainbow Bridge leading to Heimdall’s Observatory and even the desolate realm of Jotunheim, the world of the Frost Giants. You can definitely tell that the designers paid great attention to detail. The opening of Thor really sets the tone for the rest of film. The booming voice of Odin, played by the excellent Anthony Hopkins, telling the history of the Nine Realms, as an all out brawl between the Asgardians and the Frost Giants explodes on the screen.

The story is pretty good and is easily understandable for the average joe (comic book movie noob). It is an action packed, emotional and funny joy ride. The writers did an excellent job placing subtle hints to previously introduced Marvel heroes, and a couple that have yet to make appearance. The story evenly balances time between Asgard and Earth which is nice, but some of the transitions between the two are rocky. There’s something I’ve noticed about the Marvel cinematic universe films: in each one S.H.E.I.L.D. has grown and become more and more involved in the story.

We still aren’t to the point where agents are flying Helicarriers and cars around or patrolling the grounds of The Vault, but you can definitely tell that they’re on their way to that. The fight scenes between gods and other mythical beings are executed very well. They’re big and explosive eye candy. I didn’t really like the sequences where Thor fights mortals (i.e. doctors, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents). These seem drawn out with cheesy choreography.  The ending should’ve been epic, but instead you are left with a dreary, anti-climatic feeling. Not to worry, you should leave the theater feeling satisfied if you sit through the credits.

Chris Hemsworth delivers a standout performance in his first leading role (he was first on the big screen as George Kirk in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek). He quickly transforms from a haughty, arrogant boy into a humble, heroic man god. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki never ceases to be slippery. A certain plot twist makes you feel emotionally connected to Loki because he seems so innocent with puppy dog eyes and junk, but as the film progresses, his true face is gradually revealed. He’s one of those villains that you love to hate.

The Warriors Three, played by Josh Dallas (Fandrall), Tadanobu Asano (Hogun), and Ray Stevenson (Volstagg), are all good in their supporting roles, though Jaimie Alexander really shines as Sif. The romantic relationship between she and Thor is really toned down in favor of the relationship between Jane Foster and Thor, but there are little inklings of it. Thor has to have a reason to want to return to Earth, right? Idris Elba was great as Heimdall and I still don’t understand why a bunch of fuss was made over his casting. Why wasn’t there outcry over the fact that the actor who plays Hogun is Japanese? Natalie Portman is amazing (as always) in the role of Jane Foster. The character of Jane Foster was actually changed to fit with the story of the movie. In the original comics, Foster was a nurse to Dr. Donald Blake. In the film, Foster is an astrophysicist studying the heavens, more specifically wormholes. Stellan Skarsgård plays the knowledgeable (and surprisingly connected) Dr. Erik Selvig, a new character created just for the Marvel cinematic universe. Kat Dennings simply provides comic relief as the intern Darcy Lewis.

There is no longer any doubt in my mind that Kenneth Branagh can tackle a comic book movie. I hope he returns to direct Thor 2! He expertly combined the magic, action and mythology of Marvel’s god among men, allowing Thor to prove himself worthy of joining The Avengers. Overall, Thor is an excellent film and I highly recommend seeing it in 3D or even IMAX 3D. Even though Branagh decided to shoot in 2D, the effects were all rendered in 3D, so it really adds to the experience (especially during the flyover establishing shot of Asgard)! At times this movie is very loud, even in a conventional theater, just imagine what it would be like in IMAX! Patrick Doyle composed an excellent score that drives the action. I’m actually humming it now…

THOR opens this Friday in 3D and IMAX 3D!

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