Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston
Dir. Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Branagh’s Thor is a silly film. To describe it any other way would not do justice to its absurd amounts of canted framing, bizarre casting choices, over-the-top production values, and the totally unexpected choice of Kenneth Branagh, the man behind a handful of Shakespeare films, as the director of it all.
Yet somehow, despite having all of these variables stacked against it, Thor works. Based on the comic book of the same name, the film is a far cry from Branagh’s Shakespearean works. Thor is about, like any good comic-book movie, the titular character saving the world and the girl he loves. Natalie Portman, fresh off her Oscar win for Black Swan, plays Jane Foster – a real Jane of a character – a scientist studying something that isn’t really fully explained, but has something to do with the weather. Jane’s world is quite literally shaken when Thor, played by uber-stud Chris Hemsworth, inexplicably appears from the sky during one of her experiments. Thor, we discover, is from a distant planet that is on the brink of interplanetary warfare that could potentially destroy Earth. In an interesting, though kind of banal twist, Thor, a hot-tempered meat-head who gets off at the thought of war, starts the whole thing, causing his father, Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins), to banish him to Earth until he learns some greater lesson that isn’t really important but just drives the plot.
The film is two hours of Hemsworth kicking ass Norse-style while a veritable who’s-who of Hollywood (including Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgaard, and Colm Feore) watch in awe, sometimes at his strength, other times at his stupidity. Don’t go to Thor looking for a Branagh-style Shakespearean epic. Go to Thor looking for a kick-ass time.