"Legend tells us one thing; history, another. But, every now and then, we find something that belongs to both"
A thousand years after his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of Asgard defeated the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, his arrogant but powerful son Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to take on his father’s old nemesis after an unprovoked attack on Asgard. This is against his father’s will and as a result Thor is cast out of Asgard, losing all of his power and most importantly Mjolnir, his hammer. Landing on Earth, Thor is accidentally run over by scientists Jane (Natalie Portman) and Erik Selvig (Stellen Skarsgard) who are skeptical about his story. Thor must prove his worth to Asgard and protect the Earth from his jealous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in order to be able to ascend his father’s throne.
I think that the tone of this film was judged very well. It didn’t take itself too seriously which considering the plot involves caped Viking Gods talking in late Middle English and large blue Frost Giants was a good call. It wasn’t as funny as Iron Man but I laughed several times.
The story is probably the most fantastical of all the recent Marvel films but I went with it. In the end it’s just a coming of age story with added sibling rivalry but set in a world of Gods and magic. Its three settings complimented each other and all three were expertly designed. I seem to remember being more impressed with the visuals of Asgard when I saw the film in the cinema but maybe it looked better on the big screen and also I’d just seen the incredible Prometheus before watching Thor again so maybe that impacted on my impression. The Frost Giants’ world, Jotunheim looks dark and icy but on my second viewing the world that impressed me the most was Earth. A lot of the film is set in a small
town which was in the middle of
nowhere. It felt isolated and almost unchanged from the 1950s. The town of New Mexico was used for
location filming and was extensively modified for the film. It was a fantastic
For me the film’s strength lies in its characters. Thor is strong and arrogant but quite raw. His arc involves his realization that patience and brains can often match brawn. Loki, Thor’s brother has always lived in the shadows and decides that his time has come. His relationship with Thor is further explored in The Avengers and his character is explored in even greater detail there. Dr. Selvig is the sort of skeptical scientist character that you’d expect to find in this sort of film but his Scandinavian heritage gives him something more. Thor’s love interest Jane is a geeky and shy scientist type who falls head over heels in love with the God. Of all the characters it was Thor’s friends Sif and the Warriors Three who I enjoyed the most. I loved these characters; they felt like a really unusual band of friends. There’s the huge bearded Viking, the sexy girl one, an Errol Flynn swashbuckling type and a Japanese guy! It felt really random but worked great. They were all loyal to Thor and provided a lot of the humour. Along with the principle cast there are a couple of Avengers links which I didn’t pick up on my first viewing which include Agent Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye. Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury also makes an appearance in a post credits scene which sets up The Avengers nicely.
The acting was great and like the film, the actors appeared to be having fun rather than being all Battleship like. Hemsworth is an excellent Thor and Hiddleston is great as Loki. The actor I thought did the best job was Idris Elba as the sentry of the bifrost bridge. My only complaint is that Anthony Hopkins felt miscast.
The special effects were excellent but as I said previously I remembered them as being even better. The battle scenes looked great and I especially liked the giant automaton that Loki sends to Earth. I also liked the way that Director Kenneth Branagh shot the film. He often used an odd camera angle that was about 30 degrees off horizontal known as a ‘Dutch angle’. I thought that this gave the film a dream or fantasy like quality.
Thor and The Avengers are the two Marvel films which have actually made me want to seek out and read comics. I’ve only ever read two or three in my life but these films have both made me want to find out more about the worlds that they come from and the characters that we meet. I have never felt like this after any other comic book film and I think that is testament as to how good these two are. Thor is my favourite pre-Avengers film. It is great to look at and has an endearing story and well fleshed out characters. It is funny and not too serious and is a film that I would happily watch for a third time.