Thor is the latest Marvel superhero movie to hit our screens and what a force of special effects to be hit with. The movie has a surprisingly fine array of talent, including Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo, with Kenneth Branagh as director.
The film opens on the dark plains of the US, where a cosmic disturbance drops Thor (Aussie Chris Hemsworth) onto our unsuspecting astrophysicists. We are thrown into a flashback and another galaxy, where Thor's tale is told: He is a headstrong young heir to the throne of Asgard who is keen to throw his hammer around and take on the Frost Giants.
The fight scenes feature some brilliant special effects with giants who can spout ice and a Thor wields a hammer that can bend earth. But it all comes to an early end thanks to Odin, regally played by Anthony Hopkins, who banishes him to a hellish place called Earth to learn some manners (he obviously hasn't done his research).
All humour takes place on modern-day Earth, with "fish out of water" comedy. Thor is stun-gunned, hit by a four-wheel drive twice and strides into a pet shop and says "I need a horse". His buddies and jealous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) try to change Odin's mind but things take a turn for the worst and Loki ends up on the throne. But Thor has a few twists that are more biblical than understandable.
There are too many undeveloped characters, as if they are being introduced in preparation for a sequel or two (stay tuned). Thor's cohorts are lifted straight from the comic book and given glib lines, while Rene Russo (who plays Thor's mother) has even less to do. Hopkins sleepwalks through this role — and still impresses — which is ironic given Odin spends half the movie sleeping.
Portman shines and grabs every moment and Chris Hemsworth manages his Shakespearean delivery and transition from ego-driven war monger to comical humble hero quite well. You still suspect he is cast more for his height, looks and incredible body than his acting skills, but he does have talent.
Kat Dennings (Darcy) and Stellan Skarsgard (Dr Erik Selvig) are the strongest of the supporting cast.
Director Branagh has seized on the central brotherly love story as the driving force, let the special effects work their magic, and paid little attention to anything else. The romance is only carried by the acting talents of Portman and I'm still wondering why they bothered with 3-D. There is next to nothing that warrants it.
But this is still a movie with heart, some great fight scenes and brilliant special effects that will dazzle your vision and you will feel rumble through your seat. The problem is, once you leave it, there is little else that will resonate for much longer.