“Thor” has arrived and gives “Captain America” and “X-Men: First Class” an early run for their money.
***** out of 5
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action.
Article first published as Movie Review: Thor on Blogcritics.
During the early 2000s it seemed like superhero movies were all the craze… okay, they were. But over the last few years they’ve suddenly become fewer and farther between. Maybe it’s because by the end of the gluttonous era it seemed to be getting a little long-winded. While I might not completely agree with that, the last few were not as favored by the hardcore geeks as they were by me. “Spider-man 3” is nowhere near the monstrosity as others may claim; “The Incredible Hulk” was not the financial one-upmanship that Marvel was hoping for after Ang Lee’s “Hulk;” and even “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” wasn’t the total disaster it’s been accused of being.
In bringing “Thor” to the big screen, I’m sure it was tasked by the credited writers (Ashley Miller, Zach Stentz, and Don Payne) to come up with something believable for modern audiences. Most people who buy a ticket probably won’t even have much background with the “Thor” character (I know I don’t) aside from knowing it’s the latest chapter in the ever-expanding universe of crossover films leading up to the big one next year – “The Avengers.” While some may have complained about “Iron Man 2” playing like just another piece of that puzzle, it definitely stood on its own and was every bit the sequel to better the original than was given credit. This summer also sees the release of “Captain America: The First Avenger;” which with the team’s inclusion of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) makes no sense whatsoever, but who’s counting? Obviously not Marvel’s marketing department.
When a trio of Frost Giants enters Asgard to take back their Casket, Thor, along with his trusty “sidekicks” the Warriors Three: Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (Joshua Dallas), and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano); and childhood friend Sif (Jaimie Alexander), wind up threatening to break his father’s truce with the Frost Giants from venturing to Jotunheim to find out how they managed to slip into Asgard undetected. After a spectacular battle sequence, Thor is renounced of his godliness due to his arrogance and cast down to Earth along with his hammer Mjolnir of which is no longer of his use after Odin casts a spell upon it allowing only someone of worth to be able to wield its power from hereon.
Branagh and his writers keep things zooming merrily along for one of the fastest 114 minutes so far this year. The whole film features an epic scope worthy of the best Shakespearean tragedies. And while some may balk at his overuse of slant shots, here’s a film where they’re far more fitting in keeping things looking as epic as they deserve as opposed to a lack of visual ideas ala John Patrick Shanley’s misuse in “Doubt.” The converted 3-D is also less burdensome than most of what’s been offered, but unless you see it in IMAX 3-D (which I unfortunately did not), it ultimately adds little unless there’s an action scene happening. Thankfully, however, there’s many.
Photos courtesy Paramount Pictures