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.
In my youth, the character of Thor was nothing more than a guy with a big hammer. A confusing comic strip creation, who sparked as much interest as my younger sister’s My Little Pony collection. With a plethora of Spider-Man cartoons, TV’s Incredible Hulk and Christopher Reeve’s magnificent Superman series, I had all the superhero fixes a 7-yr old could hope for. Fast-forward to thirty-something me in present day, and well, that same Thor apathy still lived on.
What’s pleasing about Kennth Branagh’s handling of the subject matter, is 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 conjures a serendipitously enjoyable appetiser to the Avengers main course.
In the lead role of Thor, Chris Hemsworth plays along with balanced touches of humour, easing comfortably into the straight man hero stuff like he was born for it. Tom Hiddlestone too, as Thor’s evil brother, Loki, emboldens his character, turning in a bright performance that gives the audience plenty to ‘boo-hiss’. If there’s any oversight, it’s Natalie Portman’s underwritten part. For an actress of her talent, it’s disappointing to see her given so little to do, which in turn, hurts the credence of her blossoming relationship with the title character.
In less capable hands, Thor could easily have been a portentous slice of comic book nonsense. As it stands, it’s a good piece of comic book nonsense that sets up the brilliantly inflated uber-nonsense of The Avengers’ superhero mash-up that was to follow. 3.5/5