Considering the Thor story premise established by Marvel Comics, having Shakespearian expert Kenneth Branagh direct is a stroke of genius. The second god-like move on the part of Paramount and Marvel Studios is casting Star Trek‘s Chris Hemsworth as the titular character. Without either of those pieces in place, the puzzle of how to bring a Marvel icon to the silver screen would be incomplete.
The Thor story is classic Shakespearian drama. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the first born prince to King Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Cocky, commanding and insanely boastful of not only his entitlement to the throne, but also in his ability to kick some serious ass, Thor’s youthful arrogance immediately lands him in hot water with his father on what should have been his day to inherit the throne from his father.
Throw in a younger brother in Loki (Tom Hiddleston), a slightly mad, intensely jealous sibling and all supernaturally powerful, and the movie Thor could easily land in the wheelhouse of the Bard himself.
There are two worlds in Thor. His home, Asgard, and the world we know on Earth. Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgard anchor the Earth-born cast who meets Hemsworth and his Thor at the most inopportune of times for the universe. We give the recent Oscar winner Portman props for accepting the role of a physicist convinced of a world beyond our own. It is very much a supporting venture to the star-making vehicle for Hemsworth, the always iconic Hopkins’ kingly turn and the 3D special effects that are truly out of this world.
Because of Thor’s actions on Asgard, he has been banished to Earth by his father, King Odin. Stripped of his powers that begin and end with a godly hammer, it is through actor Chris Hemsworth’s eyes that we see his journey anew. Thor must find humility before he can regain not only his power, but his place in the kingdom.
On Earth, he meets a band of scientists led by Natalie Portman. Maybe it’s just that the parts of the film on Asgard are so visually and emotionally powerful that it made the Earth scenes pale in comparison — or perhaps those Earth-bound scenes lack a cohesive path, but whatever the reasons, the earthly moments of the film drag a tad, but still manage to not pull down the film as a whole. This is largely due to the chemistry of Hemsworth and Portman who forge a relationship of understanding and attraction.
Overall, Kenneth Branagh has created a Thor that is thunderous fun and a perfect summer movie that sprinkles its killer special effects with a Shakespearean dysfunctional royal family story that is equal parts fun and fantastical!
Out of five stars…