Friday, 23 December 2011

Film: Thor (2011)

Yet another US superhero film, this time giving a contemporary science-fictional twist to the myths of the Norse gods and acquiring an upmarket gloss by being directed by Kenneth Branagh, the Shakespearean actor/director.

The plot is set on three of the nine Norse "realms" (effectively, planets): Asgard, the abode of the gods; Jotunheim, the home of their traditional enemies the Frost Giants; and Midgard, our very own Earth. Thor (played by Brad Pitt look-alike, the muscular Chris Hemsworth) is the heir to the throne of Asgard, currently occupied by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). However, his scheming brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) plots to get Thor into trouble by goading him to attack Jotunheim, for which act of disobedience Odin strips Thor of his magical powers and of his mighty hammer Mjolnir, casting both separately to Midgard.

On present-day Earth, the newly arrived Thor is promptly run over by the vehicle of a scientific research team led by astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), leading to some amusing scenes as he tries to work out what is going on and they try to understand who he is. Hearing that Mjolnir has landed not far away and is being researched by a secretive government organisation, Thor sets off to reclaim his hammer, only to find that it isn't quite as simple as that. Further adventures and battles follow (along with a predictable romantic entanglement) before Thor is able to return to Asgard to challenge his brother, who has been getting up to further mischief in his absence.

Thor is an entertaining film, briskly-paced, well-acted and with a good mix of adventure, supernatural battles, humour and romance. Unlike some reviewers, I much preferred the literally down-to-Earth part, when Thor was an ordinary human, over the stylised and over-dramatised scenes on Asgard and Jotunheim which always looked like, well, fantasy film sets. Despite that reservation I wouldn't have minded watching it all again soon afterwards, which is high praise as I rarely feel that way about a film. A couple of sequels are already planned and I can only hope (albeit without much optimism) that they maintain the standard of the first.

6 comments:

Carl V. said...

I'm with you in not being assured that the quality of the sequels will live up to this one.

I had heard good things about this, but being a little burnt from superhero film overload I waited to see it on DVD. I am glad I didn't wait long though because it was a good film.

Like you I enjoyed the parts on Earth better. While I enjoy Norse mythology the scenes there were little different than standard fantasy fare, and being the hopeless romantic that I am I much preferred the film focusing on Thor and the humans.

I really enjoyed Chris Hemsworth's brief performance in Star Trek and thought he did a fantastic job as Thor.

Anthony G Williams said...

I wasn't aware that Chris Hemsworth had been in Star Trek, Carl. Which one was it?

Carl V. said...

The most recent film from J.J. Abrams. He played Capt. James T. Kirk's dad.

Anthony G Williams said...

Thanks. I've seen that film and I thought it was OK although I can't recall much about it now.

Carl V. said...

It seems to be a polarizing film. I've actually met few people that aren't either wild about it or thought is was garbage. I was wild about it, far exceeded expectations and going in I planned to be really annoyed that they were rebooting the original series rather than doing something new. At any rate I thought Chris did a really nice job in his limited screen time at the beginning.

Doug Dandridge said...

I have to disagree with you as well as all the conventional critics. I grew up reading the comics. If I want to go see real life or fish out of water stories, I will go see a mundane drama (or better yet, wait to see them on TV). True fantasy and Comic Book fans go to these movies to see the action and effects. Sure, we want some of Bruce Banner caught in the angst of turning into a green monster, but we really want to see that green monster on a rampage. Peter Parker caught in the horns of a dilemma over Spiderman's responsibilities stepping on his dating life is good, and adds some human interest to the story, but we really came to see Spidey kick butt. True fans of the old Thor comics (and I am one) loved seeing the scenes of comics come to life. I was thrilled to see Thor hurling his hammer and flying behind it. When I saw the initial critics rants after the movie came out I thought they just didn't get it. Fans didn't go to see a fish out of water story. My rant over, I thought it was a very good movie.

Doug Dandridge, scifi and fantasy writer. http://dougdandridge.net