Released: 27 April
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Screenwriter: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins
Running Time: 114 mins
At this point in the road to The Avengers, Marvel’s clutch of superhero flicks aren’t so much hinting at the cinematic team-up as laying the foundations of the storyline. Thor does retrieve some of the enthusiasm we lost for this mega-franchise with last year’s unfortunately rubbish, overstuffed Iron Man 2. Still, while the film stands on its own as an amusing superhero outing enhanced by colourfully adapted Norse mythology, those extra story threads are more prevalent than ever, an occasionally exciting yet often contrived setup to the cinematic event of 2012.
The mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is cast out of Asgard after defying his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), and bringing the realm to the brink of war with the Frost Giants of Jotunheim. Thor is sent to Earth, where he encounters pretty scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her amusing entourage. Here, the god of thunder is forced to go on a quest to discover what being a hero really encompasses. Meanwhile, power-hungry sibling Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has his own plans for Asgard, consumed by jealousy of his father’s favouritism towards Thor throughout their lifetimes. This is awkwardly jammed into the story with one of the most expositional lines of dialogue ever to feature in mainstream cinema.
Thor is a confused film – the necessity of including all the Norse mythology on top of the exiled adventures of the protagonist mean that it isn’t paced like a normal superhero movie. There are two very different stories being told at once, here, which is fundamental to the appeal of the comic but difficult to cram into a conventional summer blockbuster. Thor starts off with maximum amounts of action and effects, which ends up being counter-intuitive because the characterisation isn’t layered on top until later in the film; the first act of Thor ends up feeling a little empty as a result. It immediately picks up when Thor is wandering about on Earth with the lovestruck Foster, though, eating entire boxes of pop tarts and drinking copious amounts of alcohol.