Sunday, May 8, 2011

Movie Review: "Thor"

By Skip Tucker
May 8, 2011

The summer movie season arrived a few weeks early with the release of Thor, the latest in the long line of Marvel Comics adaptations (Spider Man, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four – and they’re just getting started).

While Thor’s Hammer might be his primary weapon, director Kenneth Branagh’s primary weapon of choice is humor.

Chris Hemsworth (Captain Kirk’s father in “Star Trek”) plays the title role, the God of Thunder who has defied his father Odin (played by Oscar-winner Sir Anthony Hopkins) and has invaded an enemy territory. Cast down to Earth as punishment, he’s literally run into by scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman, who seems to be in everything these days), along with her Norwegian colleague, Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard, “Bootstrap Bill” in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise) and her ditzy intern, Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings from “The 40 Year-Old Virgin”).

Also cast down to Earth is the aforementioned Hammer of Thor, named Mjolnir, which imbeds itself in a chunk of rock in the middle of the desert. The local yokels try to make like King Arthur and pull it out until S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Colson (Clark Gregg) shows up to take all the fun away, along with everything else.

Hemsworth is obviously having fun with his character. The drinking scene with Skarsgard is a riot, especially when Thor shows up with a drunk Selvig over his shoulder, announcing, “"We drank. We fought. He did his ancestors proud."

Portman is eye candy and Sir Hopkins is regal. Also of note is Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Thor’s brother who is more than he appears to be. Hiddleston nails the role with just the right amount of guile and menace, without going over the top (in a clearly over-the-tip movie). His descent from mischievous younger brother to evil antagonist is as fast-paced as the movie itself. Rene Russo also has pretty much a cameo role as Thor’s mother.

As with pretty much all of the Marvel Comics adaptations, there’s a scene following the credits that gives a hint of what’s coming.

There’s scheming and battles between the gods, the humans, and shadowy government agencies, all delivered with winks and nods and things blowing up. MY type of movie!