Thor is the mythical narrative of the ambitious heir who, in his overzealous pride, tries to battle the Frost Giants, against his father’s wishes. This is in retaliation following a small group’s stealthy attack to try and take back an energy source in the castle, The Casket of Winters. They are a cold race, literally in appearance and manner, that were previously defeated by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) attempt at proving his worth as future king and warrior upsets the already fragile truce between the giants and Norse gods. Odin decides that his son needs an important lesson in humility and banishes him from his home, Asgard, to Midgard, otherwise known as Earth.
The god of thunder, unhappy with his new location, sets about trying to get his power and his trusty hammer Mjölnir back. Upon realising that it won’t be that easy to go home, he learns to adapt to the human way to the bemusement of astrophysicists Dr Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her wisecracking assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings). Meanwhile, back home in Asgard, trouble is afoot as Loki (Tom Hiddleston) strives to take his brother’s place and inadvertently uncovers an unexpected secret.
The director who gave us the amazing Shakespearean adaptations of Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing and more, tries his hand at comic book and mythological lore. A strange marriage definitely but one that Belfast director Kenneth Branagh and Joss Whedon execute with flair. With the skills of Bo Welch on production design they succeed in helping us suspend disbelief. Asgard, the Bifröst, Odin’s castle, chamber and throne room down to the decaying home of the Frost Giants, Jötunheim, are impressive CGI efforts.
As in all previous comic book offerings, the acting is not really anything to write home about. However, Chris Hemsworth does a pretty good job acting god-like and awkwardly human, providing some comic relief and bringing a little heart to the god. Anthony Hopkins leaves a lasting impression as the king worried about his sons, with the wisdom and gravitas that he plays to perfection. I love the casting choice of Idris Elba as gate-keeper Heimdall, partly because of him, but mainly because of the irony and presumably intentional humour of casting him. Heimdall is described in Norse mythology as “the whitest of the gods”. Can you tell I love and know my Norse mythology? Though some disagree, I think Tom Hiddleston is fantastic as the conflicted, duplicitous Loki. And not to mention Clark Gregg’s appearance as the beloved Agent Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Don’t go to see Thor expecting an accurate portrayal of the age-old Scandinavian folklore (it’s very Westernised here) or to be blown away by a new angle into the Marvel Universe. In that, Thor doesn’t quite hit the mark. It feels a little flat in parts and unintentional comical in others. However, if you’re looking for a popcorn flick that popularises a lesser-known character within the magical Asgardian world and on Earth, with some epic battle scenes – then this is it. Enjoy it for what it is, an incredibly fun adventure aware of its own silliness to set the stage for The Avengers and all other upcoming superhero features. My review for Thor 2: The Dark World is up next.
What did you think of Thor? Did it exceed your expectations or crash land to Earth? Your turn on the soapbox in 3, 2, 1.