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Overall Rating

Awesome: 14.86%
Worth A Look: 35.14%
Just Average47.3%
Pretty Crappy: 2.7%
Sucks: 0%

7 reviews, 32 user ratings

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by brianorndorf

"Branagh's Funny Book Glory"
4 stars

Now here’s a superhero that’s difficult to translate to the big screen. Born of mythology and armed with a magical hammer, Thor isn’t exactly Batman or Iron Man, lacking the brood and the gadgets required to keep viewers in a shadowy mood of fractured valor. To successfully bring the character to cinemas, director Kenneth Branagh has conjured an epic visual experience, infusing “Thor” with the expansive sweep of a comic book and some snappy personality, creating a wildly entertaining yarn that effectively launches the adventures of a new caped crusader (and his trusty hammer).

Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is the ruler of Asgard, a vast golden kingdom where magic reigns. After thwarting the universe-dominating efforts of the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, Odin keeps peace, educating his two sons, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth), on the finer points of leadership, hoping to prepare his boys for the throne. For Thor, the challenge to remain passive while the Frost Giants make a new play for the all-powerful Casket of Ancient Winters is too much, and for his arrogance and brash behavior, he’s exiled to Earth, where the former God of Thunder finds himself in the care of enthusiastic physicist, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Stripped of his powers, under the careful watch of S.H.I.E.L.D., and unable to wield his weapon, the hammer Mjolnir, Thor is left vulnerable, while Loki finds his path leading to darker forces, looking to disrupt the power of the Bifrost Bridge, a portal leading to other worlds, hoping to make Thor a permanent resident of Earth.

At least for the poor souls who didn’t spend their childhood with their noses in comic books (heathens!), “Thor” isn’t always an easy film to follow. Hitting the viewer with all sorts of locations, characters, and terms, the screenplay is perhaps one of the more ambitious pieces of writing the genre has seen to date, not due to rabid character complexity, but the sheer amount of exposition. That’s right, even the hammer has a name.

There’s an entire world of “Thor” to establish in the picture, which merges Norse and Arthurian mythology and ink-and-paint hijinks, creating a mesmerizing sci-fi touch to standard hero mechanics. Thor is a god with extraordinary powers and incredible arrogance, which provides a meaty arc of rehabilitation for the hulking blonde, who looks to reclaim the war cry he lost during his fall from Asgard. The hero is a handful, well stoked by Branagh, who brings Shakespearean tenacity to the picture, exploring deceptions and setbacks with enthusiasm for broad strokes of confrontation, filling the picture’s lungs with outstanding fire and charisma, taking Thor and the Asgardian way seriously, while instilling the rest of the film with needed Earthbound humor, or at least expected human hesitancy.

Splitting time between magical realms and Earth, “Thor” juggles the distance quite well, marrying some light comic relief with bellowed confrontations, with Loki feeling out his newfound sense of purpose, turning Asgard upside down, disrupting peace and the pure purpose of the Bifrost Bridge. Branagh cleanly communicates the incoming threat, deploying a series of swooping camera moves and Dutch angles to generate a proper funny book atmosphere, manufacturing a stirring tone for a feature that’s isn’t exactly action packed. Sure, Thor does involve himself in some early rumbling with his Asgardian brothers and sisters (including Ray Stevenson and Jaimie Alexander), making mush out of his enemies with the thunderous power of Mjolnir (gotta love those thudding iron sound effects), and there’s a whole encounter with Asgardian enforcer Destroyer, a fire-belching machine sent to Earth to test Thor’s newly acquired skills of negotiation. While keeping a healthy pace, “Thor” isn’t a thrill ride with stunt sequences planted every 10 minutes. Branagh is more consumed with selling the fantasy than the fury, a development that creates a richer, more engaging picture.

With renewed focus on the plot, “Thor” is brought to life by a winning cast, with Hemsworth proving himself in a major way as the title character. A brute of charm and intelligence, Thor is a tricky individual, requiring a special wink and a physical presence that’s able to convey the deflation and rebirth of a future king. Hemsworth nails the tonality of the role, triumphantly creating a brash and vulnerable Thor, while generating some butterflies with Portman, who gives her side of the googly eyes a welcome spin of tickled disbelief. The love story seems shoehorned in to warm up the proceedings, but there’s chemistry there to be explored. Also amusing is Stellan Skarsgard as Jane’s disapproving cohort, who dares to challenge Thor to a drinking contest. The Asgardians are equally merry and devious in their roles, though I must admit that Anthony Hopkins is superbly commanding as Odin, making a regal screen impression he hasn’t enjoyed in decades.

While plot particulars weigh down the conclusion of the picture, “Thor” remains a heartily satisfying picture with an unexpected superhero plan of attack. The film offers a few surprises (as per routine with a Marvel movie, stay for the end credits), a good number of sight gags, and a full-bodied exploration of a fringe player in the comic book domain. I have to hand it to Branagh and his production team, they made something fulfilling out of difficult material, clarifying backstory and establishing Thor as a hammer-throwing force of nature for (hopefully) a few more movies.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=20200&reviewer=404
originally posted: 05/06/11 16:33:51
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User Comments

11/17/16 deepak koi he 2 stars
10/01/14 Horror Lover 3.5 stars. Solid enough comic book movie. 4 stars
6/23/14 Haley S. I loved this movie. It was funny and entertaining, and the plot was good. 5 stars
1/20/13 dmasz91 my fave superhero movie ever! and funny 5 stars
8/31/12 Dr.Lao Not as good as "Captain America" but better than "The Fantastic Four" 3 stars
7/20/12 Sean Harrison As if William Shakespeare wrote a superhero story. 4 stars
1/27/12 Kathryn Martinez Plot was enticing, but I thought the ending could have been different. 4 stars
12/24/11 debbie hodgdon so funny, great graphics, epic, my favorite!!! 5 stars
10/18/11 Magic While not bad, still pointless, only serves as a long advertisement to the Avengers movie. 3 stars
9/26/11 sake02mo Sasa Pudar 5 stars
9/10/11 Captain00Kirk Marvel succeeds yet again! www.youtube.com/Captain00Kirk 4 stars
9/08/11 Pret Not bad, but still yet another only half-good comic-book adaptation, something else please 3 stars
6/21/11 KingNeutron Thor(attitude) is a little too much like the guy from the "I'm on a horse" commercial. 3.5 3 stars
6/11/11 Rich Great costumes and sets! 5 stars
6/01/11 Chris White Best parts in the film are with Loki. 4 stars
5/30/11 g. Great movie. 4 stars
5/27/11 Shaun A A must-see epic film worthy of the character. 5 stars
5/23/11 Koitus I thought it was a good movie. Nothing "obnoxious / stupid" in the writing. Not great tho. 4 stars
5/21/11 Apollo Really really liked it. 4 stars
5/21/11 Darkstar Best Marvel movie so far. 5 stars
5/20/11 Faraz Fun movie. The armour looks real !! 4 stars
5/13/11 kaz LOVED IT!!! 5 stars
5/12/11 peter jokeson I agree about the lack of control Branagh had - But I only agree with that! Fun film 4 stars
5/10/11 gc Great action sequences, Hopkins was perfect for the role as Odin,overall very well done 4 stars
5/09/11 damalc i'll be damned. so that's what was in Marsellus' briefcase. 5 stars
5/09/11 Butt Boring. Really. Damn. Boring 2 stars
5/09/11 Leeee sit back, smoke a dun, and enjoy... 5 stars
5/08/11 jim huggins a respectful hero story admirably done. 5 stars
5/07/11 action movie fan not faithful to the comic but still fun to watch 3 stars
5/07/11 Toni Lots of fun! 4 stars
5/06/11 mr.mike Branagh brings it home. 4 stars
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  06-May-2011 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Sep-2011


  DVD: 13-Sep-2011

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