Film Review -Thor

Thor

Kenneth Branagh may have seemed an odd choice to direct Thor, with the majority of his filmwork being Shakespeare adaptations. Yet you cannot deny that both Dead Again and Frankenstein (the former, bonkers, the latter, stylish but redundant) are both visually arresting and tell the story well. Thor is crammed full of fantastic shots of Asgard, exciting fight scenes and cute moments of humour.

And yet… somehow it doesn’t quite gel and I’m not entirely sure I can put my finger on why. All the scenes in Asgard are great, managing to stay away from the high camp of something like Flash Gordon. Anthony Hopkins as Odin gives an unexpected and pleasatly restrained performance, no chewing of scenery but exactly the gravitas that Odin requires. Thor on Earth is a fish out of water, smashing coffee cups in approval or striding into the local pet shop to buy a horse, and it’s light and fluffy when it needs to be, and super-dramatic at all the right times.

It all feels a little lightweight, possibly because the story of the Frost Giants potentially invading Asgard, and the threats Thor experiences on Earth don’t quite marry up. Portman as love interest, astro-physicist Jane Foster is surprisingly underwhelming. She seems less of a possible love interest than the Lady Warrior Sif (Jaimie Alexander) who commands attention every time the camera rests on her.

The script drifts between sublime and ridiculous. Almost all of Loki’s (Tom Hiddlestone) speeches are wonderful, eschewing cartoon villainy for depth of character and some interesting motivations. On the flipside, we have Jane’s assistant Kat (Darcy Lewis) who contributes nothing to the plot or pace of the movie. However most of the supporting characters are excellent, especially Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig, Jane’s mentor, and Idris Elba as Heimdall. Anyone who had an issue with Elba’s casting needs to get over themselves, he is perfect as the guardian of Asgard, colour doesn’t come into it.

The movie has plenty of action with fight scenes and explosions galore. If I have any niggles with Branagh’s direction it’s that the editiing of the the hand to hand combat isn’t great, it’s almost too fast to process. I wonder though, if this would be rectified by shooting at 48fps to eliminate blur. The 3D was shoe-horned onto the film in post-production, and this works perfectly well in 2D.

Overall though, Chris Hemsworth as Thor is the absolute star of the show. Utterly charming with a twinkle in his eye, he manages to also convey Thor’s sense of arrogance and entitlement. However, while flawed, he is never unlikeable. I wasn’t expecting his performance to be so enjoyable and it does make me excited for The Avengers.

On reflection it may well be that it’s just the initial clunky pacing of the film, and Portman’s wispy performance that has me unconvinced. Maybe Thor just suffers from having to introduce all the characters and have them do something interesting. But with Hemsworth, Hiddlestone and Skarsgård all featuring in The Avengers movie, this is one saga I’m keen to see more of.

Thor opened in the UK today, April 27th

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~ by moviegrrlreviews on April 27, 2011.

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