Best Movies of All Time + Tom Hiddleston



Thor is a 2011 superhero action film directed by Kenneth Branagh and serves as the latest addition to the list of films leading to the upcoming "Avengers Initiative" movie set for release next year. The film starts with a flash-forward on Earth as Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) hits Thor (Chris Hemsworth) with her car. We're immediately taken back to Thor's home world of Asgard where we learn that he is the heir apparent to the great king Odin (Anthony Hopkins). However, Thor's arrogance and desire to start a war with the enemy frost giants forces Odin to banish Thor from Asgard and strip him of his supernatural powers. Thor soon finds himself a mortal on Earth, where he meets the aforementioned Jane, a scientist trying to find the secrets to the wormholes first proposed by Einstein. Jane and her fellow scientists Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) try to make sense of the seemingly crazed ramblings of Thor as they try to piece together from where he may have come. The group soon learns of a mysterious "satellite" crash near where they found Thor, which immediately piques the Asgardian's interest as he realizes the satellite is, in fact, his hammer Mjölnir. With Jane's help, he makes his way to the site which has been surrounded by government security, but he soon realizes that without his immortality, he cannot control Mjölnir. As Thor struggles to find a way back to Asgard, he learns of the nefarious plot concocted by his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and swears to defend both Asgard and Earth from his rule.

I'd like to start by saying that I am not a fan of the source comics and have never been one. I don't think I've ever read a comic book of any kind, to be honest, but I just think that should be mentioned as I try to explain my opinion of this film. In a way, I was able to go into the film without any real expectations, so I could view it simply as a film rather than an adaptation. I've had conversations with avid Marvel fans who span the entire spectrum of enjoyment with Thor - some said they loved it, others said they hated it, but they all mentioned that they based their opinion on whether or not they felt it reflected the comic books well. I will not be doing that; instead, I'll be looking at this as a stand-alone film despite the fact that I know it's anything but.

I had some hesitations going into the film based on the trailers I had seen in the previous few months. In fact, there was enough hesitation that I did not place Thor on my list of the twenty-five summer films I was most excited to see. Something about the trailers made it look a little bit on the unsatisfying side, and I'd have to say that I feel like I hit the nail on the head with my original feelings. While the film wasn't horrendous by any means, it lacked any real spark that could possibly propel it towards anything beyond being "good."

I actually didn't know that Branagh had directed the film until the day of its release, and the moment I heard it, I had some qualms. Branagh is a classically trained Shakespearean actor and director who has deftly taken on such famous titles as Henry V, Hamlet and Frankenstein. But how would he do with a superhero comic book adaptation? I've heard reports that Branagh has been a massive Thor fan since he was a child, so that precision should have translated into a well thought-out endeavor. However, things just seemed a little amiss throughout this one.

The screenplay wasn't anything spectacular, giving us a rather predictable storyline aided by some very simplistic dialogue. From the first moment, even non-comic book readers like myself should be able to guess exactly how this one's going to end, and that doesn't do much in terms of hooking the viewer into the movie. And while not atrocious, the dialogue spoken throughout the film seemed so simple and easy that it just wasn't realistic. It's difficult not to compare this film to its Iron Man predecessors, but part of the reason those films worked so well is because the dialogue was fresh and interesting. In Thor, it's just a little bit stale, and it's hard to imagine that anyone would speak in such a manner.

To be fair, the Iron Man films are lucky enough to have the ever-fabulous Robert Downey Jr., and unfortunately, no one in Thor comes within a thousand miles of his brilliance. Our lead is Hemsworth, whose largest film role prior to this one was his cameo appearance in the beginning of 2009's Star Trek. He definitely has the look for Thor, but his acting bravado just isn't quite enough to make him a captivating lead for this particular film. Sadly, we'll have to see some more of him in the Avengers film, and I can already tell you that he's going to be pushed to the side by Downey and Chris Evans, who will appear as Captain America. Considering the rest of Thor's cast, we should have seen something a little bit better than what we get. Recent Oscar winner Portman mails in a performance that's not bad but not good by any means. Skarsgård and Hiddleston are decent but nothing spectacular. Dennings probably gives the most realistic performance in the film, but she's not given much screen-time. And even the "great" Anthony Hopkins isn't all that great. I could make an argument towards the "greatness" of Hopkins' overall acting ability, but I won't bog down this review with that particular argument.

If anything works extremely well in the film, it's the musical composition which definitely deserves mention. Patrick Doyle does well with the score that fits the scene almost perfectly. It's always there, but it's never so strong that it dominates the film. It does exactly what a film score should do: complement the events on-screen without taking them over.

Overall, Thor is a pedestrian addition to the annals of superhero film history. I understand its necessity in crafting a prelude to the character as he enters the Avengers film, but there just wasn't anything that was going to blow you away. It's not quite good, but it's not quite bad - it's just found a niche somewhere in the middle, but that doesn't necessarily bode well for its longevity. I'd say save your money and wait for the DVD unless you desperately think you need to see it on the big screen for the visual effects (which were, admittedly, quite good even if they were a tad bit frantic). But visual effects don't make a successful film - screenplay and acting do, and in those facets, Thor just doesn't entirely succeed.

(Oh, and as is the new norm with Marvel flicks, don't forget to wait through all the credits for one last scene. It might seem like a long time - the credits span seven minutes - but if you're interested, you'll probably want to sit through them all for that one last bit).

Movie Review Summary:Grade: C+
0.5 Thumbs Up

2011, action, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Hemsworth, Kat Dennings, Kenneth Branagh, movie review, Natalie Portman, Patrick Doyle, Stellan Skarsgård, superhero, Thor, and more:

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