By Gary Murray
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins and Kat Dennings
Written by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne
Based on the Marvel comic by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Running time 115 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating Cable
Kenneth Branagh has made some impressive films over the years. He is known as the modern interpreter of the Bard with Henry V, Much Ado about Nothing and As you Like it as part of the cinema landscape. He also has done non-Shakespeare faire such as Frankenstein. His latest, Thor, could be the worst film in his impressive career.
The story truly starts with our origins in 965 AD in Norway. We find that the race visited primitive man and that the stories of the visit have become legends of gods. As we come into modern day, the beings are now a part of realm eternal. King Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is to step down and give his kingdom to his son Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Thor is a vain, greed, cruel boy who wants to solve every problem with his mighty hammer.
When some Frost Giants break into the palace, Thor wants revenge. He and a group of his fieriest warriors go the world of the Frost Giants wanting to know how their defenses were penetrated. The leader tells our heroes that there is treachery afoot. Then, the big impressive battle happens. We see just how mighty a warrior Thor can be and how great a weapon the hammer turns out to be. Before things go totally awry, the King stops the battle and eventually banishes Thor to Earth and sends the hammer in a different direction.
On Earth in New Mexico, a scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is studying unusual phenomena in the desert. She believes that worm holes connect this planet with others. She and her team witness a giant storm acting like a tornado. Shades of photographic evidence show that a man was inside the twister. The group eventually finds Thor and he sure ain’t in Kansas with Toto.
The film is of Thor trying to fit into the modern world and trying to get his hammer so he can become the god-man being. He is still vain and pompous, strutting around as if he were the most important being on this planet. He is not worthy to carry the hammer and eventually discovers how this is the major flaw of his character. Meanwhile, Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is making his own plans to take over the kingdom. It all leads to some not so epic battles on different planets.
The big battle sequence is between Thor with his fellow warriors and a giant metal monster that looks way too much like Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still. While it is supposed to be this blockbuster moment, it just never takes off. Instead of a stunning thrill ride, it comes across as a breezy mess.
The biggest problem with the movie is that it feels like it is stitched from different films. There are elements from just about every fantasy film from Excalibur to Forbidden Planet without every being that great. Every time there is an element that works, it becomes buried with over the top antics. Kenneth Branagh is so out of his element here, dealing with monstrous effects when that is not his forte.
The 3D in the film is pointless. Much like The Last Airbender and Green Hornet, effect feels as if it is just added on to make extra cash for the studios. Only one battle looks good with the effect and it doesn’t really take off until the end credits where it works wonderfully. The effect gives the entire film a brownish tint as if the film were shot with dirty lenses.
With Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins in the cast, one would expect some Oscar worthy thespian drama. Both just seem to spout their lines without any conviction. It seems that they are just background props for the special effects. Though newcomer Chris Hemsworth does give the emotional range needed for Thor. He carries that Superman style vibe of knowing he is better than everyone else and not caring.
I know that the legion of The Avengers fans will line up around the block to see this film but out of Hulk and Iron Man franchises, this is the weakest entry.