Film Review – Thor

Thor (M)

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard

Three stars

Review by Julian Wright

It does feel silly to pick at inconsistencies, plot holes and unrealistic moments when reviewing a comic book adaptation. I know it is all make-believe. What part of “God of thunder is banished from his home planet after a tiff with his Dad and forced to live on Earth” would lead audiences to believe this was a realistic drama? None, really, but it is supposed to create an alternate world in which logic should still be apparent.

Who really believed a nerdy kid from New York could shoot spider webs from his wrists and swing from skyscrapers while battling villains in a home-made costume? Or that a man with super powers could hide his identity from close friends and colleagues with a pair of spectacles? Very few, I am sure. All these stories are meant to be just a bit if fun, but it was the hero’s relationships with others that humanised them and grounded them in an alternate, but somewhat, realistic world.

I didn’t have a problem with the intergalactic battles, space travel or sorcery in Thor. Instead, my quibbles lay with the character arc of the lead hero and his unrealistic portrayal. Between the mind-blowing special effects and impressive battle sequences, I couldn’t help but think “that just doesn’t make sense.”

A legendary war between the people of Asgard and the Frost Giants was finally settled when King Odin (Anthony Hopkins) was able to secure their power source during battle and keep it under lock and key. The most recent attempt to retrieve it happened to be in the middle of the crowning of a new king.

Odin is now getting on and feels it is best to pass his duties on to his son Thor (Chris Hemsworth), much to the chagrin of his more sensible brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Thor is the next logical person in line for King but his arrogant and gung-ho attitude worries Odin. Thor’s behaviour breaks the camels back when, after his crowning ceremony is interrupted by the Frost Giants, he recruits his warrior mates for a revenge seeking battle.

Odin banishes Thor for his reckless behaviour and he and his weapon of choice, the mighty hammer, are banished to Earth. Wouldn’t you know it, he lands smack bang in the path of feisty astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her witty side kick Darcy (Kat Dennings) and their mentor Professor Andrews (Stellan Skarsgard).

Jane thinks she can learn something from Thor while he adjusts to life on Earth and attempts to redeem himself. Meanwhile, back in Asgard, Loki is crowned King after his father takes a turn for the worst, discovers his family ties are not what he was led to believe and begins creating havoc.

While, most of the time, the family drama is palpable and keeps you hooked into the story, other times this feels like a throwaway introduction to Thor to include him in the upcoming Avengers film that will unite several Marvel heroes. Loki is a far more interesting and complex character than Thor and his familiar “bad boy redeems himself” arc. I sense a spin-off/origins story.

The troubling part is the¬† jarring 180 degree turn Thor does as soon as he hits Earth. In Asgard, Thor is an arrogant warrior, always on the lookout for the next bloody battle. He isn’t even afraid to instigate one for his own satisfaction. But on Earth, he is a charming cutie pie. What the? While Hemsworth certainly has star power and is able to hold his own against heavyweights like Hopkins, he failed to make the transition a smooth one. It is a shame because this oversight is what pulled me right out of the “reality” of the film.

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