Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Anthony Hopkins
Directed by Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet)
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence
Appropriate for ages 10+

    In the processing of going to the Marvel bench for more super hero movies, Paramount has turned to the story of the one of the few heroes who is not actually a man, but a god.  Thor (Hemsworth), the powerful but arrogant Norse god of thunder has been cast down to Earth by his father (Hopkins), sentenced to live as a mortal until he does a little growing up.  Jealous of Thor’s life and legacy, his younger brother Loki seeks to wreak havoc amongst his own people and the folks on Earth as well.

    Marvel and fanboys throughout the world have been clamoring for an Avengers movie, but in order to bring the Avengers together (Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America) it is important to introduce Thor and his world to the movie-going public, and so this film serves as the necessary genesis.  While it is spectacular to look at, and contains some entertaining features, the film also misses the mark when it comes to creating a truly original and award-worthy action film.  

    First the good.  As previously stated, the production design is breathtaking.  The world of Asgard is a site to behold and the visual effects are jaw-dropping.  While the score by the usually terrific Patrick Doyle (Henry V) almost gives a cheap b-movie sound to the film, the visual effects team is very worthy of praise.  

    I also thought they did a great job with casting the main roles.  The relatively unknown Hemsworth was a terrific Thor and Hopkins was superb as his father Odin.  Tom Hiddleston could have been a little more of a snake in the grass as Loki, but by the end his creepiness showed forth just right.  

    Where they messed up is in the story department.  Most of the time when you see so many writers receiving credit – that ain’t a good thing.   The story’s direction was so bent on getting to the Avenger’s film that it became a huge distraction.  It cheapened the film and almost ruined it.  I liked Iron Man and Thor when they included nice plugs after the credits, but here, just as in Iron Man 2, they made the plugs a central theme in the movie.  When Thor tells the SHIELD leader that they are on the same side and that he will be an ally, it feels forced and ridiculous.  I honestly believe that the studio’s involvement in trying to make Thor a commercial plug for the big upcoming film hurt the integrity of the project tremendously.

    Another shameful inclusion were Thor’s friends from Asgard.  I’m sure they played a major part in the comic but here they not only came off as unimpressive and almost weak, but they also added a silly element that the film didn’t need.  Perhaps Marvel was trying to figure out which character was worthy of a spinoff, like they did with X-Men 3 and Wolverine, but whatever the reason for inclusion, it did nothing to help the film but rather created annoying characters that only served to confuse and cause the audience to roll their eyes.

    So is it a good film? I have to admit that it is entertaining at times, and they did get many things right, but the things they got wrong stuck out like a hammered thumb.  C+