This is a film that I had originally not wanted to see for a long list of reasons. Firstly, growing up, Thor was one of the ‘superheros’ I had absolutely no interest in. He just wasn’t like the Batmans and Supermans and such. Why would I want to follow the story of a god of thunder (yeah, I know that’s not actually what Thor is, strictly speaking).
Secondly, the original information that came out of this film wasn’t encouraging. The shots of Anthony Hopkins donned in what looked like a cheap plastic armor. The 2 and a half minute trailer that was nothing short of a total snore-fest, making it seem like a drama devoid of action. I dismissed this film from the start as something Hollywood had to do to legitimize a horrible Avenger mashup film.
Then I saw something that surprised me and got my instant attention. Rotten Tomatoes (at the time) gave it 92% positive reviews. Not to say that this makes Thor a Citizen Kane, just that a very large percent of reviewers gave it a positive review. So armed with this, and the fact my other half wanted to see it, off I went, curious to see why it had.
Premise; Thor is a son of Odin, the king of the realm of Asgard. Back history tells us that Odin has in the past fought a great war against the frost giants, who have threatened to take over all Nine Realms (Earth included) before their defeat. However an uneasy peace is broken and Thor goes against Odins wishes sparking off the beginnings of a new war.
There is so much to like about this film, and I think perhaps that a lot of those things are entirely its directors doing. Kenneth Branagh is traditionally a Shakespearian actor and director, and I think that taking that sort of approach to this film is probably what made it the solid, and entirely enjoyable watch that it was.
Yes, Thor is essentially a ‘superhero’ film. He flies, he fights, he smashes stuff. But here we have an entirely more intelligent telling of something that’s touched on as more mythical than superheroic. You can’t possibly go wrong putting a Shakespearian director to the head of a film like that. Astute viewers might notice the rather Shakespearian circular plot format that leads throughout.
What Branagh gives us is just a good, solid story. Well paced, well acted, I can see how this could have easily been a mess. We do get action in big heaping helpings, but there’s plenty of well woven storytelling, whether in the form of Lord of the Rings style flashbacks, or the two paths of the story that follow Thor in exile and his brother Loki in Asgard.
Thor’s exile is something that I felt could have been all too quick and over all too soon. Mostly because how are you going to tell an interesting story when the main character has no powers, and really, the more interesting story is happening in Asgard? It’s something the film manages to do well, and with good humor as well. The very brief nods to the wider Marvel universe were both refreshing in their subtlety and good in letting Thor stand on its own merits.
But one of the great highlights of the film for me was definitely Loki. The film sets us up for the very typical story of good brother, bad brother. The big strapping blonde guy and the rather weedy looking black haired guy who spends most of the first part of the film quietly suggesting things in peoples ears. When things happen as they do, you just know it’s all Loki’s doing, and of course the evil brother is behind it all.
Without saying anything to spoil the film, I’ll say that it’s at least partly true, but I really appreciate the path that it takes. Loki makes an outstanding villain for the piece, but just like the villains of Shakespeare, are anything but clear cut. It’s something that I really appreciated in a superhero genre where good guys wear white hats, and bad guys wear black ones.
I’d recommend this film wholehearted. And although, like I said, they’re probably going down the list of the cast for an Avengers film (which I’ve heard both ways on whether it’s going to be made) but Thor is a great stand alone film, and certainly not a Batman or Superman type of superhero film.
Lastly, the poster for the film up there is not its original one, but certainly more stylish than the real one. To check it out more closely, and to see some very cool reimaginings of film posters, head on over to Olly Moss’ homepage. It’s a great look.