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Thor 3D (12A) review

Rachel Winterbottom doesn't get hammered but is quite enamoured

Published on May 3rd 2011.


Thor 3D (12A) review

In the run up to the 2012 Avengers movie, Marvel has been busy establishing its A Team. Non-comic fans would be forgiven for assuming that with the eponymous Thor they’re scraping the superhero barrel. However as a founding member of said Avengers, Thor, in his heyday even had his own trading card, so he’s fully entitled to his own blockbuster prequel. Not that his ego needs it

On hand primarily for Thor to work out his man child kinks, Portman also provides much of the comedy, showing off a knack for timing that audiences might have missed in her last comedy, No Strings Attached.

In an opening prologue, the film establishes that Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of Asgard, forged a delicate peace with the Frost Giants when he stopped them invading Earth and the rest of the Nine Realms by taking away the source of their power. Years later, just as Odin is about to announce his son Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the god of thunder, as the next king of Asgard, the Frost Giants try to reclaim their power.

In retaliation, Thor, his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) the Warriors Three and his friend Sif, travel to Jotunheim to confront the leader of the Frost Giants, thus breaking their peace treaty and inciting a new war.

As punishment for his arrogance, Odin takes Thor’s powers and casts him down to earth, along with his hammer, Mjolnir, but not before using magic to ensure that now only the worthy can wield it, i.e., not Thor. Thor finds himself in New Mexico, where he is discovered by beautiful scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her team, who are researching the wormhole he travelled through.

Top secret agency SHIELD (from the Iron Man films) steals Foster’s research and builds a facility around the immovable hammer to study it. Thor breaks in only to realise that he can’t lift the magical mallet, although he is soon mollified by Foster, who takes a shine to the blond-maned god even though he can no longer put up a shelf.

Meanwhile, in Thor’s absence, Loki takes the opportunity to become number one son, wreaking havoc in Asgard whilst trying to find a more permanent solution to Thor’s exile.

Thor spent a few years wallowing in Development Hell before Kenneth Branagh, more known for his Shakespearean adaptations, took the helm, directing the script by Ashley Miller, Zante Stentz (who both worked on the new X-Men: First Class prequel) and Don Payne.

Despite a few dodgy turns (Branagh’s last films include Sleuth and The Magic Flute), his flair for the dramatic has ensured that the characters can wear horned helmets and still be taken (semi) seriously, and you feel genuine sympathy for his Machiavellian villains.

Branagh knows there’s humour to be had if you put a six foot god in a one horse town in New Mexico, and grounds the film in reality before jetting off to the CGI realm of Asgard. And it’s a good job too. With its gleaming metallic surfaces, Asgard is too squeaky clean to be real fun. Still, here is where the 3D pays off – as you journey through the stars and take in the views over the rainbow bridge.

Best known for playing Captain Kirk’s dad in the latest Star Trek film, Hemsworth takes on the lead role as if he owns it. Whether he’s gleefully smashing a cup in a diner and demanding more, or facing off a needle with the (uncompleted) cry of ‘You are no match for the mighty…’, his charismatic Thor is part man child, part unstoppable force of nature.    

After the dramatics of Black Swan, Thor must have seemed like a welcome break for Portman, who plays love interest Jane Foster with relaxed ease. On hand primarily for Thor to work out his man child kinks, Portman also provides much of the comedy, showing off a knack for timing that audiences might have missed in her last comedy, No Strings Attached.

Thor still could have erred on the side of preposterous, if it wasn’t for the excellent Kat Dennings (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) as Foster’s assistant Darcy, who comes close to stealing every scene she’s in with her quick delivery and dry asides. No easy feat when she’s up against the god of thunder and Natalie Portman.

With a CV full of TV work (Wallander, Suburban Shootout, Casualty), Hiddleston has a lot to shoulder as the villain of the piece. But with Hopkins busy putting the ham into hammer; it was down to Hiddleston to put some heart into Asgard. It’s difficult to convey a layered character when your slicked back hair and extravagantly horned helmet scream bad guy, especially when sharing screen time with some huge personalities. But Hiddleston still manages to show Loki’s duplicitous nature with just a few conflicted expressions.    

Thanks to almost half a century of comics and mythology to boot, Thor has a lot of back story to get through, and this richness is lost in this condensed version - the depth often substituted for loud and flashy CGI. But they are gods, after all, so the ostentatious set pieces can be forgiven, especially as this is a superhero film that has a good sense of its own ridiculousness.

7/10

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OdinoutMay 4th 2011.

I liked this film, it was kitsch but fun

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