…Bring the Hammer Down

“Thor” has a lot riding on its extremely muscular shoulders.

Not only is it kicking off a very crowded summer blockbuster season, but it also sets the tone for a summer of Marvel movies (“Captain America: The First Avenger” and “X-Men: First Class“).

As one of the final and lesser known superhero puzzle pieces for next summer’s “The Avengers“, “Thor” carries more than its fair share of the weight.

After his arrogance and hot-headedness relaunch an ancient war between the realm of Asgard and the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is stripped of his strength and banished to Earth by his father King Odin (Anthony Hopkins).

Once on Earth, Thor lands in the lap of scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her assistant Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård).  Though reluctant at first, the trio helps Thor find his way and, eventually, regain his strength.

 The strength of this film lies in its light heartedness.  It does not take itself too seriously, but it still tells a compelling story.

When dealing with ancient Norse gods, the modern world and frost giants it’s easy to end up with another campy, popcorn movie.

Somehow, Kenneth Branagh has kept “Thor” from teetering over the edge.  Branagh manages to blend “Thor” into the other Marvel Universe films while still leaving his own touch on the film.

The film’s more prominent themes, father son issues and sibling rivalry, allow Branagh’s well-known Shakespearian style to shine through.  However, it’s in the films quieter moments between Thor and Jane that his style is really appreciated.  This very sweet, little love story is a nice break from all the screaming and fighting.

Of course, a lot of the credit also goes to the strong cast.

As Thor, Chris Hemsworth is the totally buff, hammer-wielding superhero that comic fans expect, but his take on the character leaves hope that he’ll have a career outside of the comic book world.  Not to say that we wouldn’t love to see a “Thor” sequel.

Natalie Portman as Jane Foster once again proves that it’s nearly impossible not to like her.  Her part is surprisingly small, but  her adorableness makes Thor being completely smitten, believable.

Of course, every superhero needs an archenemy, and Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Thor’s brother turned adopted brother turned archenemy, avoids the pitfalls of so many comic book villains.  At times it seems that Hiddleston forgot he was playing the bad guy.  He’s even kind of likable.  It’s refreshing to see an antagonist whose motivation isn’t “I am evil.”

This freshness is found throughout the film.  “Thor” is nothing new, but it’s done well and told from a new perspective.

All in all, “Thor” is a well told story with some beautiful fight scenes, well-spoken dialogue and a great start to an action packed summer movie schedule.

There’s really only one more thing to say: Captain America, your move.

_______________________________________

Movie Goer Tip: Don’t forget to stick around until after the credits.  Marvel movies love their bonus scenes.

…just for fun:

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