Anyone order the Asgardian Beefcake?

Theatrical Release Date: 05/06/2011
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings, Clark Gregg, Jaimie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, Josh Dallas, Tadanobu Asano, Idris Elba, Colm Feore
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence.
Runtime: 1 hour, 54 minutes


It’s Hammer Time!

“Thor” was meant to be the beginning of the summer movie season. But “Fast Five” roared out of the gates last week and got that job done with over $80 million in opening weekend box office (domestically).

Still, I’m sure there are high hopes for the Norse god of thunder as Thor is yet another property that Paramount and Marvel is hoping will not only become a franchise in its own right but also pump up the interest in next summer’s “Avengers” movie (being directed by fanboy wet dream Joss Whedon).

The good news, and this is me being creatively lazy, is that “Thor” works. Chris Hemsworth was a perfect fit for the role, able to pull off both the arrogance and humility required. He also knows his way around the weight room, as anyone inclined to admire the male form will attest to after seeing him waltz around without a shirt on (this scene seemed to go on a bit long … but then again no one would accuse me of knowing where the gym is even located).

Helping to keep the stuffy Norse elements from turning an action movie into a complete Shakespeare festival (remember, it’s Kenneth Branagh in the director’s chair), this isn’t just about Thor, his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Fans of the comic will be happy to see the Warriors Three (Ray Stevenson, Josh Dallas, Tadanobu Asano) and Sif (Jaimie Alexander) also tag along on our hero’s quests.

Of course, for those of us who live in Midgard (Earth to those who have a life), the story isn’t all about rainbow bridges and frost giants. Our perspective is handled via scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her associate Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and intern/comic relief Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings). They run into Thor once he’s been sent to Earth (sorry if this sentence elicits groans from anyone who’s seen the film).

Thor eventually fills them in on the connection between Asgard and Earth, all while they mix it up with S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel like Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), who serves as the main link between the Marvel properties leading up to the aforementioned Avengers movie.

There are thankfully more action scenes than expected, though the need to set up Thor’s origins slows things down from time to time. Also, the opening battle scene requires significant CGI and was reminiscent of some of the large scale battles seen in “The Lord of the Rings”; only these looked a little too fake and more like a cut scene from a video game than something in a major motion picture. And the 3D won’t distract you from the film but it certainly isn’t so amazing that forgoing the extra costs is probably a better bet.

Seeing as comic book properties are largely critic proof, droning on and on about each element seems unnecessary. The bottom line is that “Thor” is entertaining and will probably please fans of the Marvel franchises as well as casual filmgoers with no attachment to the comic, so it gets a 3.5 out of 5. The pacing could have been a little better, somehow “Fast Five” feels shorter even though it has 15 more minutes of runtime, but that’s really the biggest complaint since I’m only concerned with judging this against other Marvel franchise films.

And of course, like every film meant to tease the upcoming “Avengers” project, stick around for the end of the credits for an extra scene. (Though it was nice that one Avenger makes his cameo within the main movie rather than just being tacked on to whet fanboy appetites.)

3.5 out of 53D Maybe