I initially had no interest in Thor. It’s not that Thor wasn’t an appealing hero, he is. Nor was it the choice of Shakespearean director Kenneth Branagh to direct, he is one of my favourites. Nor was it the choice of Chris Hemsworth as Thor, he seemed bulky and interesting enough to play the Norse God. Rather, the combination of all these elements seems completely out-of-place. For the most part, Thor feels like a clever marketing plan and a really long commercial for the upcoming Avengers movie.
Based on comic book character of the same name published by Marvel Comics, which has always drawn on influences from Shakespeare, the story of Thor has always been one about power, pride, arrogance and lessons learnt. Prince Thor, a mighty Norse God and ruthless warrior, has his heart set out on ruling the kingdom. His powerful, old and wise father Odin tries in vain to teach his son that war isn’t the solution to the world’s problems. When Thor’s actions endanger their kingdom, Odin strips Thor of his power and magical hammer, Mjolnir, and banishes him to Earth. When he crash lands on earth, he is hit by an RV, which happens to be driven by three of the world’s most brilliant scientists.
One of the main problems with Thor is the paper-thin personality of Thor himself. For the most part, he doesn’t seem to be the brightest bulb in Asgard. He is immature, proud, and although he sometimes presents some charm, he comes off as the typical alpha-male brute. This presents a huge problem when rooting for the hero to overcome the bad guys. Luckily, this is somewhat remedied by the battle scenes – which usually consist of our hero performing awesome tricks with his hammer.
The second problem I found was the love story between Thor and Jane Foster. Not only is it completely unromantic but it doesn’t make any sense. There is no real chemistry between them or the actors. In essence, their relationship consists of her hitting him with cars and helping him as he wanders off clueless in an unfamiliar world. This is by far Natalie Portman’s weakest role to date.
Thor suffers from being mundane and obvious at times. It’s not all bad, though. The special effects are amazing. The visual landscapes of Asgard are breathtaking. I sometimes wished they would rather show more of Asgard, as opposed to the story happening on Earth. Anthony Hopkins is memorising as Odin – a part he plays remarkably well. So well, in fact, that when Odin speaks you can do nothing but quiver at his authority. Under Branagh’s direction, you can’t miss the Shakespearean and Christian overtones. These are well crafted into the film.
The standards for comic book movies have been established by movies like The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 2, Iron Man and X-men: First Class. Thor will struggle to contend with the current competition on the market.