I should probably start this review with some kind of disclaimer: I am not the intended audience for this film, I have almost zero interest in superhero movies and I havenâ€™t enjoyed any of the other Marvel Cinematic Universe films so far (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk). But, having gone in with zero expectations and knowing nothing about the Thor comic books, I actually quite liked it.
As with many of these types of films the plot is incredibly convoluted, so I will do my best to summarise without giving too much away. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is the king of Asgard, a realm of trans-dimensional beings who have a long standing feud with a race called the Ice Giants. Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the god of thunder, is Odinâ€™s eldest son and next in line to the throne. However, due to his reckless nature and some deceitful tampering on behalf his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) he is banished from Asgard and sent to Earth as punishment and to learn the error of his big-headed ways. Crash landing in the New Mexican desert Thor teams up with astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her goofy assistant Darcy (the always adorable Kat Dennings) and her mentor Erik Selvig (Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd).
Iâ€™ll start with what I didnâ€™t like first. Firstly, which Iâ€™m assuming is no fault of the film as it wasnâ€™t initially intended this way is the fact that it is being released in 3-D and in my opinion it suffers as a result, making some scenes so dark it is difficult to make out details (especially the scenes on Jotunheim, the Ice Giant planet) and many of the battle sequences were very blurry. Admittedly the 3-D conversion of films not shot in 3-D has come a long way since Alice in Wonderland but it is still far from perfect and completely unnecessary, itâ€™s only function seemingly to allow for a higher ticket price. Secondly, as with many of these kinds of films there are many secondary characters that are shamefully underused, perhaps they have a larger role in the wider universe of the story or will feature more heavily in anticipated sequels but it can be frustrating and merely adds further intricacies to an already complex plot, in Thor Iâ€™d say Kat Dennings and Renne Russo (as Thorâ€™s mother, Frigga) suffer the most from this although there are many characters who pop up and are underwritten and seem to serve little purpose. Lastly, there is absolutely zero chemistry between Hemsworth and Portman and it is difficult to buy into their relationship given that they have only known each other for about 2 days in the timescale of the film.
For what it is, a big budget Hollywood popcorn movie, Thor actually has many redeeming qualities, I enjoyed it a fair amount and there are definitely worse ways to spend a couple of hours. Even within the world of superhero movies, this pretty much takes the biscuit for ridiculousness, what with all the dimension travelling Norse Gods and Portman as the least convincing astrophysicist ever. But it works is the same way that something like Flash Gordon works (including a fair few ropey accents, Odin is as inexplicably Welsh as Ming the Merciless is Swedish), by embracing just how silly it is and by not taking itself too seriously. There were a few scenes, particularly when Thor first lands on Earth, that actually made me laugh out loud and Hemsworth convincingly achieves both straight faced warrior god Thor just as well as goofy duck-out-of-water Thor. I also think that by having a director like Kenneth Branagh it gives the film a certain amount of weight and there are a lot of Shakespearian elements to the plot that he manages to pull off to great effect and with more authority and conviction than another director could have. Hiddleston is also fantastic as Loki, a sneering and multifaceted villain who I hope we see more of in the forthcoming film of The Avengers and the just now confirmed Thor sequel. Speaking of The Avengers, Jeremy Renner shows up in a fleeting cameo as Hawkeye.
Like I said at the beginning I had zero expectations of this film, so Iâ€™d be interested to know what fans of the comic book series think of it, but for a superhero film thatâ€™s been trapped in development hell for a number of years (neither of these things immediately bring good things to mind) itâ€™s actually surprisingly good fun and Iâ€™d thoroughly recommend going to see it at the cinema, in 2-D where possible.