Thor Review: A Thundering Prelude
It’s clear the purpose of “Thor” is to deliver an exciting back story for the monumental Marvel Studios project “The Avengers,” which is slotted for release in May 2012. Studio execs can now breathe a sigh of relief because “Thor” succeeds in exactly what it sets out to be: an energetic, yet charming introduction to a supreme juggernaut.
Australian actor Chris Hemsworth plays Thor, a beefy, brazen and mighty god-warrior, poised to assume the throne of the heavenly realm from his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Unfortunately, an enemy breach into their kingdom provokes Thor to behave with such dangerous defiance that Odin strips him of his powers, seizes his mighty hammer and swiftly banishes him from their realm Asgard.
Like a fallen star, Thor plummets from the blue heights and crashes onto the barren soil of New Mexico. Thor first meets an alarmed astrophysicist played by Natalie Portman and her two equally startled colleagues played by Kat Dennings (“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”) and Stellan Skarsgård (“Good Will Hunting”). Despite their initial panic and their better judgments, they resolve to help the stranded celestial being and accompany him on what becomes his quest for inner redemption.
Thor’s journey is indeed one of grandiosity and perilous stakes, but that doesn’t stop it from being surprisingly funny. Watching a disoriented Viking god blunder his way through shabby town fixtures is like watching a toddler attempt to master dominoes. Hilarious calamity ensues as his new chaperones do their best to clean up his mess and instruct him on the guidelines of contemporary etiquette.
The cast of characters does a great job with a hurried plot. The kingly Hopkins rules over Asgard with a wise eye, while his second son Loki (Tom Hiddleton) has a mysterious ulterior motive and makes for an intriguing villain. While Portman and Hemsworth don’t really have a chance to develop their romance, they are both believable, real characters in their own right.
Patched around the comedy is the vital buildup of tension and thrills — this is where director Branagh displays his cinematic verve. He triumphs over the skeptics who doubted his ability to overcome his Shakespearean sensibilities and succeeds in inducing the raw adrenaline required of a summer blockbuster.
Asgard serves as the basis for most of the meaningful action. It is a beautiful collage of glimmering golden skies and lavish sparkling halls. Though the absence of some cultural detail and the presence of some unconvincing computer generated images slightly betray its authenticity, it does, for the most part, exemplify a heightened domain of power.
“Thor” is first and foremost a high-octane popcorn movie. On that front, it is guaranteed to entertain. But in addition, Thor’s struggle to balance his two dissimilar worlds also, at times, brings to mind the image of a restless soul fighting to reconcile violence with valiance.
Written by – Uchenna Ononye
(Originally published May 8th)