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Thor

Thor

What he said:

He

Great Odin’s raven that was fun! I was very eager to see this movie, but a little concerned it wouldn’t turn out so great.

First, Thor isn’t exactly the most popular Marvel character out there. Sure, he’s their equivalent to Superman (in terms of strength at least), but the character himself isn’t one that grabs a lot of people’s interest. Norse mythology in general – which the character is loosely based on – isn’t all that popular either. Characters like Thor and Odin do not have as much as a mass appeal as Hercules or Zeus.  

Additionally, I was a little nervous after Ironman 2. The first one was fantastic, but the sequel was a little “eh”. It had its moments, but suffered from the typical sequel problem of trying too hard. But director Kenneth Branagh and the rest of the cast of Thor quickly eased my fears.

Anyways, Thor is the latest piece in the puzzle that is ultimately going to end up being The Avengers. So far, there’s been The Incredible Hulk (08), Ironman, Ironman 2 and now Thor. Next up this summer is Captain America: The First Avenger. The movie is – for the most part – an origins story.

Thor (played by relative newcomer Chris Hemsworth) is your typical Asgardian; he likes to eat, drink, and beat up the bad guys. He’s also a little headstrong too. He’s not a bad person, he just like kicking ass, taking names, and gets caught up for all the praise he gets for doing those things.

After an unexpected attack by the Frost Giants, Thor decides to seek out the cause of the problem against his father’s wishes. His father Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins) had previously come to a truce with their enemy the Frost Giants. However, when a rogue group decides to attack Asgard, Thor becomes concerned. Odin simply wishes to ignore the incident, as he believes it was an isolated one. Thor wants revenge and leads a group in a counterattack. As a result of Thor’s actions, dear old dad banishes him to Earth and strips him of his powers. While on Earth, he meets a bunch of mere mortals and learns some lessons along the way.

The stuff on Earth is where it gets surprisingly funny. Being a Norse god, Thor isn’t all that familiar with modern customs on Earth. The culture shock was very funny and accounted for some of the more memorable moments in the film. From the second he lands on Earth, the laughs begin. It's literally one funny bit after another; and they don't get old either! The whole strangers in a strange land thing works really well.

While on Earth, he meets a scientist (and love interest) named Jane (played by Natalie Portman).  Jane along with colleagues Darcy (who is portrayed in a most amusing way by Kat Dennings), and Erik (Stellan Skarsgård) are studying wormholes. So when big, blonde, Thor comes dropping out of the sky, they eventually draw a connection.

Long story short, it turns out Thor’s brother Loki - who also happens to be the god of mischief, hello...who didn't see that one coming -may have had something to do with Thor being banished. Loki is played by a gentleman named Tom Hiddleston. I had never heard of him before this movie, but certainly how who he is now. His portrayal of the petty and jealous god was spot on; and that's something that continued in The Avengers (review here).

Chris Hemsworth also nailed what I thought Thor would be like. It’s not a character that offers a lot of range or depth, but he did exactly what I thought should be done with the character. Thor is a good guy who sometimes shoots first and asks questions later. This sometimes gets him into trouble. Kudos to both him and the director for nailing the look and feel of the character.

My only real complaint is that I felt things were a little too easy for Thor at times. I know he’s a basically Superman and all, but he smacks around the bad guys with relative ease. The Frost Giants and Loki’s The Destroyer (giant robot sent by Loki to kill Thor) looked super cool and imposing. But they were little more than punching bags for Thor.

Rating: Thumbs up

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on May 9, 2011. It was updated on October 9, 2012.

Thor

What she said:

She

Oh boy, Marvel is really trying to get us hyped up for The Avengers, which is slated for release next year.  What better way then to quick make movies about all the main characters appearing in the ensemble film?  I guess that’s why I thought Thor would really stink.  I had the feeling it was just being thrown together for the greater good.  But either way, in retrospect that’s a positive thing.  At least we’ll have character background for when The Avengers comes out.

Okay, so enough about that, because I’m happy to say that Thor actually rose above my expectations.  It was a pretty fun movie.  Sure, some might feel that it starts a little slow.  It sort of presents itself as two parts.  The first provides background on Thor, his family, and where he’s from.  It’s more serious and fantasy-driven.  Then, poor Thor is banished to Earth, and that’s when the comedy and action kicks in.  It does feel a little disjointed, but the beginning of the movie is sort of obligatory background for to establish the characters and what’s at state. 

I don’t want to give too much away, but it appears the movie is setting up for something much bigger.  One gripe is that there is all this set-up about an age-old war reignited, but the beef/main conflict of the movie is actually between Thor and his brother, Loki.  The guy who plays Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is quite good.  I’ve never heard of him before, but it seems he has the talent of welling up with tears upon command.  Chris Hemsworth as Thor is also not too bad.  The character doesn’t exactly test his range—there’s a few times when he sort of feels like a caveman “Thor break stuff”—but Hemsworth really looks and feels like how I image Thor would be.  Anthony Hopkins plays an adequate King Odin, although every time I saw him I couldn’t help but be mused by the thought of him wearing fake muscles and standing on milk crate to look godly enough.  Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings are also in the movie, with the latter serving as the queen of one liner humor.  I only wish that Dennings’ character, Darcy, would have had more dialogue. 

The film is nearly two hours, but for me it felt like much less.  In fact, I wanted the Earth portion of the movie to be a bit longer.  It seemed the relationship/romance between Jane (Portman) and Thor developed a little too rapidly to be believable.  Everything on Earth, particularly building up to the final showdown just happened way too fast for me.  Overall, Thor was an enjoyable popcorn flick, a surprisingly fresh entry in a somewhat over-saturated superhero film genre, although presenting it in 3-D was a total waste.

Thumbs up.

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