Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston Stellan Skarsgard, Rene Russo, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba.
Duration: 114 mins
A mythic super-hero race from the far off realm of Asgard. A soon-to-be King, the petulant, impatient and impulsive Thor (Hemsworth – decent). Odin, the wise, knowing father (Hopkins – autopilot) and various familial tensions involving brothers (Hiddleston – good) and mothers (Rene Russo – barely there). Not too mention some era-hopping, double-crossing, realm-defending and a little personal redemption thrown in for narrative journey. And have I mentioned the evil Frost Giants have come out to play? If this sounds like a lot to take in, it is. Many decades of comic history is condensed and any epic reaching film – not just this one – would struggle to impart sufficiently impactful meaning within its less than two hours running length.
After Thor is cast out by his own father he ends up on earth with those pesky mortals. And it is here that the film turns in to a lot of fun. The contrast between the two worlds is nicely drawn as we flit back and forth between the shimmering, shining city on a hill (Asgard – as it were) and the dusty New Mexican desert. There is plenty of humour in the stranger-in-a-strange-land set pieces and Thor mines it for all its worth – Thor zestfully smashing a just-finished cup of coffee to the floor and bellowing ‘ANOTHER!’ is a lot funnier than it sounds – but the rest of the film isn’t as involving. Natalie Portman flirts amiably with Thor and, rather dangerously from a scientific point of view, all too readily ditches her years of research for the “I come from a land where magic and science meet” explanation that Thor proffers. She just wants to believe in her dishy new space hunk and his stunning pectorals. There are faint allegorical overtones between the tumultuous times we live in and the character’s world, but overall it’s a pretty standard redemptive journey for Thor from petulant prince to altruistic protector of mankind.
And apart from his “Warriors Three” sidekicks coming across on earth like some sort of fantastical medieval Village People, they don’t have much to do. Ditto Idris Elba and Stellan Skarsgard (although stick around until after the end credits for a secret Skarsgard surprise).
You may bristle at the final ten minutes set-up for a sequel, or the knowledge that it cost you and extra few quid for some totally unnoticeable 3D (State URGES you to see this in 2D) but, lighten up. This is a comic book film about a giant blonde superhero who flies through space and time with a hammer’ and, in that sense, you could spend a far worse Friday.