As Odinson of Asgard, Thor was born with a silver spoon in his mouth – or in this case a mighty large hammer. He and his dark-haired brother Loki are raised together to become kings, each with opposing personalities. Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the loud, super confident, older and larger of the two, overpowers Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who plays the more conservative and subdued brother. Things soon change, however, when Thor becomes cocky and tries to defeat the enemy realm of the Frost Giants, lead by King Laufey (Colm Feore). Odin (Anthony Hopkins) banishes Thor to Earth, stripping him of his powers and armor.
As Thor, Chris Hemsworth brings to life the mythical Norse god in gigantic proportions, both in physical presence and strength of character. At first he is the shallow, superficial, invincible god who takes his power for granted. Upon his banishment, he is unable to attain Mjolnir, the hammer with his power force, which also falls to Earth and becomes a site of attention by locals and federal agents. Thor’s transformation into a vulnerable mortal and his realization of the limits of his abilities ultimately drives the heart the film. He endears himself as a mortal who becomes a god with a soul.
More surprising is the character of Loki, who seems at first a background personality but soon transforms into a dark, sinister being, capable of deceit and treason. He uses his powers of magic to his advantage, manipulating both the enemy and his family. His ultimate goal, however, becomes the need to gain approval from his father, Odin, even after he learns of his own origin.
Anthony Hopkins as Odin is perfectly cast in his role as a god king who guides and loves his sons, albeit in a tough manner for one. His presence gives the film class and quality drama. He becomes weakened from the actions of one son and regains power from the love of the other. It is this three-way interaction that causes intrigue and is the internal focus of the film.
Kenneth Branaugh, primarily known for his Shakespearean pieces, faced a daunting task of cohesively directing an action fantasy film with care for its characters. The beautiful landscape scenery of Asgard is a joy to behold in each shot, the cinematography graphically excellent. His treatment of the characters, specifically Odin, Thor, and Loki, center the film, giving them dimension beyond mere comic book players.
Far from being a two-dimensional comic book film, Thor is exceedingly beautiful, refined, action-filled, and heartfelt with funny moments thrown into scenes. It’s well casted, with Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, and Idris Elba as Heimdall, the imposing, giant gatekeeper of the realms. The Warriors Three and Sif (Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Josh Dallas, and Jaime Alexander) are Thor’s fearless companions who fight for and alongside him. Kat Dennings as Darcy the assistant provides cute comic relief, doing things such as pronouncing Mjolnir the Hammer as “Meow Meow.” Jeremy Renner makes a brief appearance in this film as Hawkeye, as a teaser for the 2012 film The Avengers which will feature Thor, Ironman, The Black Widow, and other superheroes.
Highly entertaining and visually stunning, Thor is one of this year’s best films.