Story: The third film in the MCU, Thor had the unfortunate pressure of being the first Marvel film based on lesser known source material, unlike Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. It also starred a yet untested Chris Hemsworth to carry a multi-million dollar film. Thankfully, with the help of director Kenneth Branagh and a stellar cast including Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Kat Dennings, and Stellan Skarsgard, Thor manages to be a very fun, humour filled action adventure about a young god assuming responsibility for all humanity. It’s hard to see the film as anything more than a glorified trailer for The Avengers, but it does an adequate job of setting up the character’s back story while introducing key characters who will reappear throughout the MCU.
Execution: I enjoyed watching this film and escaping into the Norse influenced comic book world on display here. Kenneth Branagh, best known for his Shakespearean films Much Ado about Nothing and Hamlet finds a harmony balancing the differences of Thor’s world and Earth’s with a unique framing style and camera movements. Of course much of Asgard was created with CGI, but the detail of the backdrops, court halls, and even the rainbow bridge was absolutely spectacular. This film is an example of using CGI in the best possible way – to enhance the believability of the world without calling attention to the fact that the world was not actually on set.
Acting: Chris Hemsworth carries the film well. He brings an awkwardness to the role while he is trying to fit in with his new found life on Earth which brings a lot of comic relief to the film. The way he handles the obstacles in his way with a commanding arrogant yet charming presence kept me interested in the film. Thor’s companions – played by some welcome established actors like Ray Stevenson and Jaimie Alexander – create an interesting dynamic about the nature of loyalty. This group contrasted with Thor’s own family – where Odin banished Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) seeks to remove his father from the throne, show how important loyalty is among soldiers and individuals.
Overall Impression: The film certainly maintains a nice pace throughout. If it’s only job is to establish the main characters and villains who will go on to play larger roles in the MCU, then Thor did it’s job well. As a stand alone film, it tells a compelling story about being true to yourself in the face of many challenges. And it tells this story with a lot of humour and a very charismatic, is not dashing, lead actor.