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Released: 6th May 2011

Directed By: Kenneth Brannagh

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins

Certificate: 12

Reviewed By: Luke Walkley

Directed by experienced Actor-turned Director Kenneth Branagh, Thor is the latest in the series of ‘Pre-Avenger’ movies from Marvel Studios, famous for their comic book adaptations such asIron Man and The Incredible Hulk.

Thor loosely takes its concept from Norse Mythology, set in the modern day and the mythical realm of Asgard, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), a powerful but arrogant Prince is cast out by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) after his reckless actions rekindle an age-old war between the realms. While his father struggles with ill health in Asgard, Thor’s brother Loki, takes control and intent on becoming more powerful than Thor, threatens to ensure Thor never returns from Earth. While on Earth. Thor with the help of Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) seeks to find his magical hammer in a quest to stop his brother and bring peace to the realms.

Thor is an odd choice for a Marvel superhero, the story isn’t original because as mentioned it comes straight from Norse Mythology, stories of Vikings, Asgard, Valhalla and Thor have been around for generations. So the latest adaptation posed a number of questions before its release. How would they incorporate Shield? Would we see any of The Avengers? Etc, etc.  These are all answered and to a surprisingly high level of ingenuity. The creators have managed to link this film to previous instalments in the Avengers run-up, such as Iron Man beautifully. Interlinking the time-line and key characters, fantastically well. It was a great thing to behold, numerous references to Tony Stark and a cleverly incorporated cameo from Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) made it all the more enjoyable.

Some people had called for there to be one director responsible for all of the series, saying that each film would differ too much from director to director. This is the case, but by no means is it a bad thing, Branagh keeps the wit and charm of Iron Man throughout, but there is a stark contrast (no pun intended) to the main themes. Iron Man director, Jon Favreau created fantastic action scenes using CGI and stunts. However Branagh has focused on the story a lot more, bringing in new ideas and developing characters a lot more than the Iron Man series has done so far.

Thor isn’t fantastic, but it’s certainly enough to keep viewers entertained for its duration. Portman’s inclusion is somewhat odd, acting differently to her norm, makes hers, in truth, the weakest performance. Hemsworth is everything Thor is supposed to be, cocky and clever, yet he does surprisingly well in the more close up acting scenes, Thor’s action scenes were never going to be an issue.  Anthony Hopkins is an interesting choice as Odin and does what little is required of him in the role- Shout at Thor, lie on bed pretty much sums it up.

The special effects are, as we have come to expect from a Marvel film, completely over the top, but somehow necessary. Asgard’s design poses some odd questions-looking more like a city from Star Wars than the residence of Viking Gods.

However, the ‘rainbow road’ is visually beautiful. There are a few moments of CGI overkill, the city design being one, along with the ridiculous throne that Hopkins sits on as Odin and the ‘Ice Dragon’ that Thor and his comrades face while on Jotenheim.

While Thor carries the Avengers series over very well, it lacks the certain spark of Iron Man. The dialogue in Thor is at times witty, but doesn’t come as naturally as it perhaps needed to. Hemsworth looks to be a great find and with Jeremy Renner among those already named in The Avengers- I can genuinely say that I’m excited for the prospect of these superheroes lining up together in The Avengers. Captain America is first up and with Chris Evans seriously looking the part and Hugo Weaving’s appearance as Redskull It is gaining a good deal of momentum. While Thor hammers down hard in some aspects, it doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head.

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