‘Thor’ is the latest from Marvel Studios and the best comic-book film since ‘The Dark Knight’. Although in tone this film is closer to ‘Iron Man’ in terms of mixing humor and groundbreaking special effects, which it does seamlessly. Relative newcomer Chris Hemsworth is ideally cast as the Nordic God of the title. His physicality is put to great effect and he handles the shift from arrogant spoiled heir to selfless prince in grand fashion. It’s a startlingly good debut performance in a high profile blockbuster film reminiscent of Chris Pine’s star-making role in ‘Star Trek’ a few years back.
Director Kenneth Branagh surrounds Hemsworth with a top-notch supporting cast including Anthony Hopkins (chewing the scenery), Iris Elba and Natalie Portman. The film is essentially broken into two halves, the first takes place in the mythical realm of Asgard where Thor is banished to earth for his action in instigating a war between the Ogden’s and a monstrous clan known as the ‘Frost Monsters’. The second half is set on earth and deals with Thor’s interaction amongst a group of astrologists studying constellations. This section, although visually duller, is far more humorous and grounded than the fantastical opening hour.
A simplified storyline about the power struggle between Thor and his brother Loki is Shakespearean, and the writers and director handle the narrative with the appropriate amount of wit and pathos. Iris Elba plays ‘Heimdall’ the guardian of time-travel. His character is so compelling that I found myself wanting to see a spin-off centering on him alone. ‘Thor’ is the best film that could be made from the source material and credit must be given to Marvel for having the foresight to hire a filmmaker the caliber of Kenneth Branagh to make this mystical world engaging and very entertaining.
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins
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