Marvel Movie Madness! Day 1: Thor
The latest to fly out of Marvel studios.
Day 1: Thor (2011, 79%)
Directed by Kenneth Branaugh, starring Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgard, Tom Hiddleston.
Jeff: Okay, so it isn't a perfect movie. In fact, it's kind of messy. But here's what I really dug about Thor: I loved the feeling of watching something that was at least trying to be a piece of epic escapist entertainment -- and succeeding more than it really had any right to. It's funny, it has plenty of action, it's impeccably cast, and it even boasts a touch of the old Branagh gravitas. For all its flaws, it looks like a movie, and that's something you can't say as often as you used to.
Matt: I agree that it isn't perfect, but it is pretty damn entertaining. I think in another director's hands, Thor could be a pretty tedious character: lots of thees and thous and forsooths and verilys. But Branagh gives us a portrait of a guy that's trying to be a bit more than just Viking god with a lust for battle. The big hole here is that it's kind of a shallow portrait. Thor is amiable enough (if a bit arrogant) but you don't really see how he learns that heroism is more than just skill in battle. But I was willing to forgive that, because Hemsworth gives Thor some real charisma, and he's fun to watch. The supporting cast (Portman, Skarsgaard, Hopkins, Dennings, etc) is definitely having fun here, even if we don't really get very much of them.
Alex: Outside of the great first act raid on Jotunheim, Thor doesn't feel like it had many extended action sets. That's perfectly fine. Thor goes by the original Iron Man playbook and draws its mileage from drama and performance, with Hemsworth earning his paycheck as the film's anchor. I was skeptical of the dude but he's convincing as a deity, a role that invites more laughter, pity, and scorn than one initially suspects. Hemsworth holds his own against Hopkins and Hiddleston, and the movie is lightest on its feet during the Earthly moments shared with Portman (playing a junior scientist looking for new dimensions). Stripped of power but aware he holds the knowledge she desperately seeks, Hemsworth turns the role on its head and plays Thor as magnanimous enigma. He disarms not using brute strength but a sly, bewitching smile. Suddenly, the story's human potential emerges with perfect clarity. Thor falls in love, kicks some ass, learns a lesson, and the movie never hits you over the head with a hammer to get there.
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