“I have no plans to die today.”
With comic book characters you have several tiers worth to choose from. The first level is populated by Wolverine and Spider-Man. The second level is everyone else. The third level are characters like She Hulk, Doctor Strange, Thor, and more that people have a passing knowledge of but couldn’t name the rogues gallery to save themselves.
Thor is the polar opposite of Wonder Woman but roughly the same job and the same problem: Their backstories are so steeped in myths with tongue twisting names that it can really turn one off. Both characters have been rebooted several times to make them more audience friendly and most of the time revert back to their original origins until the powers that be (TPTB) see the numbers slump and reboot, again.
Thankfully the movie version of Thor gets a lot of things right for those who have never read the comic book.
Thor directed by Kenneth Branagh features Chris Hemsworth (last seen playing Kirk’s dad in JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot) as the titular character while Tom Hiddleston plays Loki, his scheming brother, Anthony Hopkins plays wise Odin their father and Rene Russo plays set dressing, oh wait, sorry, she plays their mother Figga who barely gets any screen time since we have a load of other characters to dump on the audience like Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba, Jamie Alexander and Natalie Portman aka Jade the love interest and a few more people I missed. They even manage to shoe horn Sam Jackson as Nick Fury and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye in there too. And, of course the Stan Lee blink and you’ll miss him cameo.
A lot of other reviewers are comparing Thor to the first Iron Man movie and for the most part they’re right. The pacing, story and plot beats are pretty much dead on. Start the movie, big action event in first five minutes to get people’s attention then flashback introduce all the characters and then return to where the movie started and continue until you establish the good guys and bad guys and they duke it out. Roll credits and wait for the end quick scene that will lead into Avengers just like Iron Man 2 did with Thor.
Even the theme of the movie is the same: Main character starts out one way and learns over the course of the film to become a better person. This is what’s call a character arc and the good news is: Thor actually has it. Loki’s arc as well is a good one even if it is the role of the scheming son, his scenes with Odin and Thor are probably the best.
The fact the story is not an origin tale helped a lot since Thor is already established and so is everyone else. It’s more of a: Son does something stupid, gets banished from the realm, becomes mortal and needs to learn the power of actions has consequences. All the while bopping back and forth between Asgard and Earth and tripping over words that like Mjölnir or as Kat Dennings character calls it Mew Mew. Scheming son tries to take over the realm until the other son returns having learned his lesson and saves the day. All in all it’s small film with big set pieces that does not try and over stretch itself like Iron Man 2 did.
The good news is: Thor and Jane do not end up together again at the end of the movie but the characters do not return to their status quo either. The few name dropping of the rest of the Marvelverse was nice to see and the shot of The Warriors Three w/ Sif walking into town and finding Thor was cute. I was waiting for a comic con shout out but no such luck.
The movie handles it’s Shakespearian overtones better than Blade II did with it’s Greek Tragedies overtones. I enjoyed Branagh’s directing since he kept this movie on the ground and while the sets look huge and the SFX dominate the scenes he doesn’t let them dominate the movie.
Beyond the tongue twisting names, the big fight scene between the Asgardians and their mutual enemy the Ice Giants is under lit to the extent I felt like I was watching Batman Begins. Thankfully, I did not see this in 3-D so I have no idea how bad the 3-D made this film look.
Overall, the movie was fun, enjoyable and easy to follow. Worth seeing in the theater.
On a final note: If anyone is looking to read one of the versions of the script it can be found: here.