Thor (2011)

When Thor, successor to the throne of Asgard, makes a brash and immature decision that potentially destructs a tentative peace agreement between Asgard and Jotunheim (world of the Frost Giants) King Odin strips him of his Godlike powers and banishes him to Earth. Kenneth Branagh makes for a fitting director, his Shakespearean experience gets put to good use, as Thor contains its fair share of palace politics. Simultaneously a fish-out-of-water and coming-of-age(throne?) tale, Thor is surprisingly light on action (heavy on character) despite being a film about the God of Thunder.

This isn’t to say action junkies won’t get their fix. The set piece that leads to Thor’s banishment is exciting, acting both as a “muscle flex” that shows off what he is capable of and a visual representation of his brash and foolish nature. As the first character of the Marvel Cinematic Universe firmly grounded in pure fantasy, Thor was always going to be the most difficult Avenger to adapt. Branagh adequately world builds, and the production design brings Asgard to life suitably. Nevertheless, the choice to set much of the run time on Earth was a good one – the film’s middle hour spent in Arizona is its best. Surrounded by two great actors (Stellan Skarsgard and Natlie Portman) Thor’s development is fun, entertaining, silly, and genuine. Chris Hemsworth proves to be a perfect casting choice, capable of both the physicality, posture, and presence demanded by the role. He’s also the funniest of the bunch here, reveling in the “fish out of water” aspects of his Norse God being confronted with Americana.

It’s a shame the charm and emotional heft of the middle hour transitions into a lackluster finale that feels generally bereft of stakes. Tom Hiddleston’s sly performance as Loki helps, but Thor’s climax is a bit of a dud. Not even Branagh, who dishes out enough Dutch angles to feed an army, can heat things up. Nevertheless, Thor‘s final minutes have a bittersweet finality to them, and it was lovely to see the film get its feet back under itself before the credits rolled, because it’s really a fun slice of smart blockbuster entertainment (Kat Dennings aside).

★★★½

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6 comments

  1. Great review … Pretty much spot on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. While not my favorite of Marvel’s long line of movies, I definitely enjoyed this one more than its sequel. It’s a lot more focused and character driven. Plus, it’s the only movie where Hiddleston doesn’t completely steal the spotlight from Hemsworth. Good review!

    Like

    1. I actually prefer The Dark World because I think it has the same weaknesses (poorly characterized villain, among others) and its strengths are stronger. I’ve always thought that Hemsworth does a superb job, and the only reason Hiddleston “steals the spotlight” is because his character is so devious and full of mischief (which I think audiences are inherently more drawn to). It helps that he’s by far the most interesting and well-acted villain in the MCU thus far. I love the dichotomy between Thor and Loki more in Dark World as well.

      Here’s to hoping Spader’s Ultron rivals Hiddleston.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I honestly can’t remember for the life of me who the villain was in The Dark World, so you’re right about that being a weakness. I don’t know, I felt like it was a little all over the place in story and tone. True about Hiddleston, mischievous characters are always more interesting, and he brings so much charisma to the character. Hemsworth is good but when I think of the Avengers, he’s always the one I forget about.

        I hope Ultron is good, the MCU really needs a good villain for once besides Loki. They fail almost every time in that regard. I’ve been staying away from Ultron reviews so far, so I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised haha.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know I’ll like it, because I grew up a comic book fan, so it’s ingrained in me. I just hope I like it a lot, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

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