Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Written by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz and Dan Payne

Paramount Pictures

My experience with Thor comics growing up was minimal. If it wasn’t Spider-Man or Batman, forget it. So my expectations for a Thor movie were modest, although the pre-release images were great and I trusted director Kenneth Branagh to deliver a fun film with at least some ambition towards Shakespearean gravitas. Fortunately that is exactly the tone Branagh, best known for his films of “Henry V” and “Hamlet,” was going for.

Plot-wise, Thor (Hemsworth) is the son of Norse god Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Blonde and blue-eyed, he fully expects to ascend to the throne of the kingdom of Asgard. But Thor’s attack upon Asgard’s enemies, the Frost Giants, leaves him disgraced in Odin’s eyes. In punishment, Odin strips Thor of his powers and casts him down upon the Earth, where he is found by scientist Jane Foster (Portman). Odin’s spell upon Thor’s weapon, the hammer Mjolnir, leaves it useless until the one who wields it is worthy.

Thor and his brother Loki

Meanwhile Thor’s brother Loki (Hiddleston) has taken over for Odin upon his father’s entrance into the regenerative state of Odinsleep. This doesn’t sit well with Thor’s warrior friends Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three, who descend to Earth to aid Thor. But the motives of Loki, the god of mischief, are murky at best.

I could go on. For a comic book film, “Thor” is densely plotted and requires a great deal of concentration. At the same time, it’s relatively silly, and benefits from the decision by Branagh and his cast to respect the source material (a comic book, after all) but to also have fun with it. Hemsworth is perfectly cast as the arrogant Thor. His physique is admirably God-like, but it’s his playfulness and humour which makes Thor a likeable asshole. Kudos too to Idris Elba for his dignified portrayal of the Asgardian sentry Heimdall.

The post-production 3D isn’t awful but is unnecessary so see it on a flat screen if possible. Also, be sure to stick around until after the final credits for a scene which may point towards a sequel.

Rating: 3.5/5

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