Movies / Comics Movie Reviews

THOR 3-D IMAX review

By Dan Horn
May 4, 2011 - 02:40

THOR is released nationwide May 6
Thor: it's not a household name (in the States, anyway), at least not until recently, but for those few devotees, the announcement that Marvel Studios was going to give the God of Thunder his own feature film filled them with apprehension. Could Marvel recapture the Iron Man lightning in a different bottle, or would this fizzle like The Incredible Hulk? It would certainly be no easy task to realize the essence of a god, who commands the very elements, and translate that deity's distillate to the big screen.

First appearing as a comic book hero in 1962's Journey Into Mystery #83, created by Stan Lee, Larry Leiber, and Jack Kirby, Thor would eventually transcend the ranks of anthological fantasy and make that series his very own. The newly titled The Mighty Thor became a mainstay of the Marvel line of comic books and graphic novels for decades after, and the flaxen-haired Norseman became one of the first inductees of the Avengers team. Though, the hammer-wielding demigod has struggled to keep up with the Joneses, so to speak, in the past ten years, going in and out of print, he's recently enjoyed several popular reboots and miniseries. With Marvel's movie franchises each diverting into a contingent Avengers film, a Thor motion picture was ostensibly a requisite for the success of the aggregate Marvel Universe on celluloid.

Hopkins plays the Allfather

Seeing a nationwide release on May 6, 2011, THOR can easily be allocated into two prevailing movements: one is the antecedent expository, delineating the origins of the war between Asgard, the realm of the gods, and Jotunheim, the realm of the insidious Frost Giants, and the other is a coming-of-age  saga of self-discovery and redemption. The first part, which can be best summed up as a kind of prologue, is a vapid adventure tale, derivative of every fantasy quest yarn that has ever come before it. Frost Giants have infiltrated Asgard, yet Odin, the Allfather of the Asgardian gods, wishes to maintain the tenuous truce with the Jotun. Enraged, an impetuous Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Odin's heir, sets out to take matters into his own hands, accompanied by his brother, Loki, and compatriots, Lady Sif, Fandral, Hogun, and Volstagg. Thor's vengeful actions shatter the delicate peace between Asgard and Jotunheim, and Odin, exasperated by his son's foolishness, strips the young thunder god of his powers and casts the scion's enchanted uru hammer Mjolnir to the realm of Earth before finally banishing the enfeebled Thor to that selfsame realm.

THOR's visuals are marvelous
The supporting cast here is incredibly two-dimensional, and the acting reflects its lack of depth. Ray Stevenson's Volstagg is a torpid rendition of Tolkien's Gimli model of the crude bruiser character, and Jaimie Alexander's Sif seems to overreach dramatically to compensate for her inability to emote effectually. The remainder of the Warriors Three are easily forgettable. Even Renee Russo turns in a languid, though fleeting, display as Odin's wife, Frigga.

On the other hand, the lead players are in fantastic form. Chris Hemsworth superlatively plays an impulsive hothead and an archetypal Thor, and Tom Hiddleston's performance as Loki, the sinister God of Mischief, is scintillating. It's not easy to upstage Anthony Hopkins, who plays the part of Odin in a rather understated depiction, but Hiddleston steals the show every time he's on screen. Idris Elba, interestingly enough, does a superb job of representing the stoic Norse god, Heimdall.

The visuals in this first part of the film are remarkable. The ethereal majesty of Asgard and the grim desolation of Jotunheim are gorgeously rendered. The 3-D landscapes are breathtaking and full of imaginative architecture and spellbinding designs. I would have never thought that Asgard could be evoked so magnificently on film. There is a bit of motion blurring, especially during some of the fast-paced battles, and it does get a bit punishing on the old eyes. Nonetheless, the artistry in the CGI sets, the makeup, and special effects is astonishing.

Once on Earth, where the physicist Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman, and company find the divine exile, the story really begins to pick up some steam, and Thor's aforementioned allegory of atonement begins. The dialogue is crisp, snarky, and at times genuinely funny, tongue-in-cheek humor surprisingly and refreshingly a prevalent constituent in this presentation. Thor becomes more dynamic, making the gradual transition from rash to wise in a believable time frame. The on-screen chemistry between Portman and Hemsworth is immediately evident, yet restrained enough as to not impede the grander scheme of things. Their budding romance parallels one of THOR's many motifs, the relationship between faith and science, describing how the two coalesce and are dependent upon one another, rather than being entirely exclusory. The action becomes better choreographed as the film goes on, leading to an exceptionally exciting and ingenious bout between Thor and Loki at the heart of the climax.

Hemsworth and Portman's chemistry shines

THOR respectfully blends classic comic book continuity with the contemporary while taking several liberties along the way, but Thor is a character whose origins are hard to muck up. He's a god. What else do you need to know? Sure, in the comics he was Dr. Donald Blake, and he would bang his walking stick on the ground to transform into Thor, but here he's just Thor (though they do find an interesting way to sneak Blake in there). I found it kept things pleasantly uncomplicated. The inclusion of the Destroyer and the creative manner in which its powers are portrayed had my inner nerd absolutely giddy with nostalgia.  

The film ends spectacularly, and even the credits are backed by a beautiful celestial interpretation of Yggdrasil, the World Tree. Don't forget to stay through the credits! You'll be glad you did after you see the teaser.

Hiddleston's performance as Loki is electrifying
Director Kenneth Branagh and director of photography Haris Zambarloukos do a fine job here. I couldn't help but marvel (no pun intended) at some of the spectacular shots and cinematography in this movie, though the number of needlessly skewed camera angles throughout THOR began to wear on my nerves. Still, Branagh adeptly channels an impossibly textured cinematic experience through his well-honed craft. THOR may not be perfect by any means, but it sure as Hel is an entertaining ride.

Rating: 7 /10

Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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