Thor (2011) Directed by Kenneth Branagh. With Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Rene Russo, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, Clark Gregg and Colm Feore.
For me, growing up, Thor was little more than a confusing comic strip creation who sparked about as much interest in me as my sisters My Little Pony collection. With Spider-Man and his amazing friends and Christopher Reeve’s magnificent Superman series, I had all the superhero distractions a 7yr old could hope for.
Fast forward to present day and a thirty-something me, and well, that same sense of Thor apathy still lives on, un-sparked. Then I saw Joss Whedon’s ridiculously entertaining Avengers, and everything changed. All of a sudden, I want to know who Thor is. Not only that, I want to be fed his back-story and immerse myself deeper into this Marvel universe.
What’s pleasing to me about Branagh’s handling of the subject matter, is just how much fun he manages to make it. With a blend of excellent casting, some grand, fantastical design and a previously unseen knack for big action set pieces, Branagh serves up a serendipitously enjoyable appetiser to the Avengers main course.
In the lead role of Thor, Chris Hemsworth plays along with some well balanced touches of humour while easing comfortably into the straight man hero stuff like he was born to do it. Tom Hiddlestone too, as Thor’s brother ‘Loki’, grabs his character with both hands and turns in a suitably menacing performance that gives the audience plenty to ‘boo-hiss’. If there’s any oversight here, it’s in Natalie Portman’s badly underwritten part. For an actress of her calibre, it’s puzzling to see her given so little to do, which in turn damages the credence of her blossoming relationship with Thor.
In lesser hands, Thor could have easily been a portentous slice of comic book nonsense. As it stands, it’s an exceedingly good piece of comic book nonsense that perfectly sets up the brilliantly inflated uber-nonsense of The Avengers’ super-hero mash up that was to follow it. 3.5/5