Film review: Thor (2011), directed by Kenneth Branagh
In this comic book superhero movie (yes, another one, this one’s from Marvel), we learn that the Norse gods weren’t gods after all – they were aliens. Basically what Erich von Däniken has been saying all these years! The Aesir from the planet Asgard, led by Odin the Allfather (Anthony Hopkins), defeated the frost giants of planet Jotunheim, led by King Laufey (Colm Feore), back in Norway in Viking times, and took hold of a box full of magic to keep those pesky snowmen from wreaking havoc in the nine realms (nine planets, Earth is one of them).
Some years later, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) are all grown up and Thor is about to be crowned king of Asgard, but there’s a troll in the dungeon – a few frost giants have come to get the box back. The crowning has to be postponed. Thor wants to go and kick the frosties’ behinds, daddy Odin won’t let him. Thor goes ahead anyway and takes Loki and some of his pals. Finding out about this, and getting his sons back to their own planet, Odin promptly exiles Thor to planet Earth and puts a spell on the hammer – it will only be able to be wielded when someone deserves to have the power of Thor.
On Earth, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Erik Selvig (my fellow Swede Stellan Skarsgård, actually playing a Scandinavian – I approve!) and comic relief Darcy (Kat Dennings) are researching astronomical phenomena over the skies of New Mexico. During one of these freaky events, Thor pops up. Or rather, down.
A hunky blonde dude who listens to the name Thor and keeps talking about Bifrost and Mjöllnir … well, their first reaction isn’t “wow, this must be the Norse god of thunder!” but rather “right, let’s take this delusional weirdo to the hospital”. But they come around eventually – rather, when all their research material is confiscated by Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his men in black – and realise that huh, maybe that Thor guy is less delusional than they think.
Meanwhile, Loki finds out something about himself and gains the throne in Odin’s absense … and plans on keeping both his brother away from Asgard, while figuring out what to do about the frosties.
Right, let’s get on to the actual opinions!
The sidekicks in this movie, I didn’t really take to. I enjoyed Darcy, but her only purpose in the film, other than hogging the background, seems to have been to complain about her iPod, eat and exchange “omg, he’s hawt!” glances/comments with Jane. Shame she didn’t get to do more. Thor’s pals – all four of them (described as “Xena, Jackie Chan and Robin Hood” by one of the M.I.B.s) – I didn’t even catch the names of. I got Sif, but the others were “Asian bloke, trying-to-be-Cary Elwes and ooh, his hair and beard are lush!” If their names were ever uttered, it must’ve only been once, maybe twice.
There is no way I can’t grin along with Jane’s giggly girlyness around Thor. Man’s a hunk, and to have him kiss your hand, be all gorgeous (there is a scene where he’s shirtless – go on, click the link, you know you want to!) and sweet and everything. And in your trailer! You could swoon for less.
Loki reminded me of a younger version of Mr. Collins in Lost in Austen (Guy Henry). And when Loki and Thor confronted one another – one in a green cloak, one in a red, I couldn’t help but think how much they had the colours right. Loki’s a good (if stereotypical) example of a Slytherin and Thor is a definite Gryffindor. Ahh, the things you notice when you’re a Harry Potter nerd.
With Ken Branagh as the director, you can pretty much guarantee the movie will be well made. There’s something about him that just shouts “quality”. This is an enjoyable film. Not as highbrow as one of his Shakespeare adaptations, certainly, but you never really feel it’s necessarily another one of those comic-book-to-film movies.
What I really thought was excellent was the CGI. I love photos from the Hubble telescope, and shots of planets and nebuli and stars and all that sort of thing were wonderful – the sky over Asgard is beautiful! Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge, was spectacular, as was Asgard itself.
Oh, if you look at the children’s book about Norse mythology that pops up a couple of times in the movie, the stories that Dr. Selvig said he grew up with (which he probably did in the same way that I did), you’ll see it’s in three languages. The first one is English, the second I’m guessing is Danish (Danish and Norwegian look quite similar) and the third one I only got a short glimpse of and I think it was Icelandic. Anyone else notice that and can confirm it?
For those who have just finished reading Eoin Colfer’s And Another Thing … when seeing this film, you’ll wonder why Heimdall isn’t in a ski mask, nod in recognition of Bifrost and hoping Zaphod captures all the Thor action on camera (and will upload it to the sub-etha later to boost Thor’s popularity) …
Thor might not appeal to everyone – there is action and loud noises and people hitting each other with hammers, axes and swords and such, but there is also a little bit of romance, a hunky main character and if you, like me, always have had a thing for the Norse thunder god, it’s the one to watch. Or if you like beards. Or comic book superhero movies. Or scifi/fantasy movies.
A solid 4 out of 5 hammers.