Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Produced by Kevin Feige
Screenplay by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne
Based on a story by J. Michael Straczynski and Mark Protsevich
Based on The Marvel comic book THOR created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Larry Lieber
I like a lot of superheroes and love a whole bunch of others. But ask me who my absolute favorite superhero is and without a doubt I’ll tell you its Thor. I own a sizeable number of the issues written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby and all of the Walt Simonson issues and they’re among my most prized possessions when it comes to my comic book collection.
Why is Thor my favorite? Where do I begin? I love his grandeur, his majesty, his neo-Shakespearean way of speaking. The fact that he’s not just a superhero: he’s The God of Thunder, wielding the enchanted war hammer Mjolnir. He doesn’t just fight mortal supervillains such as The Absorbing Man and The Wrecker. He also battles home grown immortal foes such as Frost Giants and Trolls. His daddy is Odin, Monarch of Asgard who is so powerful that the gods of other pantheons speak softly around him. Thor just doesn’t go on missions…he goes on quests to save the entire universe. I can go on and on for days but you get the idea. The comic book itself was a good mix of epic fantasy set in Asgard or other mythical realms and straight up superhero action when Thor would visit Earth to hang out with his mortal buddies in The Avengers or assume the humble human form of Dr. Donald Blake, greatest of healers.
I never dreamed that one day a THOR movie would be made but thanks to the quantum leap in movie making and technology, movies that once were considered unfilmable are now being made on a regular basis. And I couldn’t be happier. I’ve lived long enough to see a “Speed Racer” movie that blew my mind to splinters and now THOR. If somebody gets around to making “Doom Patrol” and “Challengers of The Unknown” movies as good as those two I can die a happy man.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the greatest warrior in Asgard, home to a race of humanoids whose technology has given them abilities akin to that of gods. In fact, they actually were worshiped as gods on Earth ages ago but after a war with The Frost Giants of Jotunheim, The Asgardians withdrew from Earth. Thor himself is about to ascend the throne and take the place of All Father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) as King of Asgard. But that’s before Frost Giants invade, seeking to reclaim their greatest weapon, The Casket of Ancient Winters.
Defying Odin’s command, Thor invades Jotunheim along with his brother, The God of Mischief, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) childhood crush and warrior maid Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and The Warriors Three: Volstagg The Voluminous (Ray Stevenson) Fandral The Dashing (Joshua Dallas) and Hogun The Grim (Tadanobu Asano). After the furious battle that takes place, war between The Frost Giants and The Asgardians is renewed, breaking the long peace Odin worked so hard for. Enraged, Odin casts Thor out of Asgard, stripping him of his god-like powers and sending him to Earth. Odin also throws Mjolnir to Earth where it lands in the New Mexico desert with this enchantment: “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, will possess the power of Thor”
The hammer attracts the attention of the locals, who try to lift it up in a redneck version of the drawing of Excalibur to no avail. The hammer simply cannot be lifted. It also attracts the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D. who erects a compound around the hammer. Also interested in the hammer is astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) her assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings) and her mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) Jane accidentally hits Thor with her truck but that’s okay as he apparently has the answers she needs about her current research which involves wormholes. In a really nice scene, Thor explains in an off-handed manner that his people know all about wormholes and how to use them to travel between The Nine Realms. They don’t call their own personal wormhole a wormhole, though. They call it Bifrost, The Rainbow Bridge and it’s the means by which The Asgardians travel though The Nine Realms. Thor strikes a bargain with Jane: if she’ll help him get back Mjolnir, he’ll tell her what she needs to know to complete her research. However, there are complications in this bargain. Otherwise we wouldn’t have a movie.
THOR bounces back and forth between the doings on Earth with Thor and his new found mortal allies and the intrigue on Asgard. Odin has fallen into the sacred Odin Sleep to renew his power and that gives Loki the opportunity to step in and take control of Asgard. The Warriors Three, along with Sif journey to Earth to help restore Thor to his rightful power and in the background, The Frost Giants plot with a secret traitor to destroy Asgard once and for all…
Let me say right up front that you’re not going to get a bad word about THOR outta me. I absolutely loved this movie from start to finish and there ain’t a lot of movies these days I can say that about. I loved Chris Hemsworth’s portrayal of Thor. Sure, he’s an arrogant ass but he’s a likeable arrogant ass. And he’s smart enough to realize during his time on Earth that he doesn’t have all the answers. He’s teachable. And that makes all the difference in his relationship to every other character in the movie. I even liked Natalie Portman who looks much more at home with the SFX in this movie than she did in the “Star Wars” movies. Maybe it’s because in Kenneth Branagh she had a director who actually likes working with his actors. Anthony Hopkins is properly majestic and awe inspiring as Odin. Hell, even Rene Russo gets her moment to shine in her small role as Frigga, wife of Odin. The SFX are simply staggering and I loved how The Rainbow Bridge looks as if it’s got arcane, ancient circuitry within its structure.
The movie could have ended after the battle with The Frost Giants and I’d have been satisfied because to me that captured the totality of the Lee/Kirby Thor. And I can’t let this review end with once again giving a standing ovation to the performance of Clark Gregg as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson. Coulson has proven to be one of the major linchpins holding the Cinematic Marvel Universe together and with good reason. Thanks to the wonderful on-point performance of Clark Gregg, Coulson demonstrates a quiet authority and calm demeanor even while dealing with Asgardian gods and super-science from beyond the stars.
And Idris Elba as Heimdall is absolutely Epic. ‘Nuff Said.
And as an added bonus because I couldn’t help thinking of this while the movie was playing: