“Thor” Movie Review

     Director Kenneth Branagh's "Thor" is yet another superior Marvel comic adaptation in the spirit of "Iron Man" and effectively sets the stage for the character in the upcoming "Avengers" film.  Not as well known as most super heroes' Thor comes to the main stream with the challenge of connecting mostly unknowing fans to the origin story.  Other Marvel characters like Iron Man and the Hulk stood as more popular over the years and came with built in interest and large fan bases.  Thor, outside of your average San Diego Comic Convention attendee, has none of those things going for it.  This made it extremely important that the filmmakers deliver a quality entertainment strong enough to create a new core audience.  I believe they have done that.

     New comer Chris Hemsworth stars in the title role of the arrogant warrior Thor.  Whereas Thor is billed as the "God of Thunder", in reality he is an alien from another world or realm as they call it in the film.  As the heir to the throne of Asgard, Thor is thought of as reckless by his father King Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and this is further demonstrated by Thor's inability to follow orders with his decision to rekindle a war with beings from another realm called Frost Giants.  As a result of his insolence, Odin banishes Thor to earth and strips him of his power in hopes that he will learn the true meaning of being a leader.

     The film does a great job of cohesively switching back and forth between realms.  From the royalty and grandness of Asgard to the cold and darkness of the Frost Giant's home world, you really never get confused about where the characters are or what they intend to accomplish while there.  When Thor arrives on earth, he runs into, literally, a group of scientists who are intrigued by the very funnel cloud that delivers him. Led by Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), the group interacts with Thor as he transitions to his new environment.  During many scenes, I was reminded of the comic banter between the crew of the Enterprise in "Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home" and the people of present day earth.  As a being from another planet, Thor is shall we say, a fish out of water and the screen writers did a great job maximizing this to superb comic effect.

     Thor's hammer, known in mythology as the "Mjolnir", plays an important symbolic role in the film. During Thor's banishment, Odin sends the hammer with him, but as Thor finds out early, he as a mortal cannot pick up the hammer, nor can anyone for that matter.  Similar to only King Arthur having the ability to pull Excalibur from the stone, only Thor can pick up the weight of the hammer.  Early on, you realize Thor is sent to Earth to learn a valuable lesson and only then will he be given the power to pick up the hammer once more.  Incidentally, if your wondering what is so special about this hammer it is said to have the ability to level mountains.  In the film, Thor can fly and can kick some serious Frost Giant butt with it in his possession.

     Of course, this film is ultimately a set up for the upcoming "Avengers" film that will feature all of the Marvel Super Heroes in one film.  Watching "Thor" will give audiences the necessary back story in order to understand how and why Thor becomes an Avenger in the first place.  Thor is every bit as engaging and funny as "Iron Man" and marks a fine debut for Chris Hemsworth as the title character.  As Odin, I don't think Anthony Hopkins has been better for a character in quite some time.  He is excellent here.  As the love interest, Natalie Portman plays a very spunky Jane Foster and I would expect her and Thor's relationship to go further in future films as a true Superman / Lois Lane type relationship. Tom Hiddleston is masterful as Thor's brother Loki who is essential to the plot and is sure to be seen in the future as well.  The quality of Thor as a film bodes well for what Marvel is trying to do and with Captain America on deck now, the Avengers will soon be a reality on screen.  Can't wait.  GRADE: B+