Toon Talk: Thor
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Back in my comic book reading youth, The Avengers was always a must-read. A Justice League of America for the Marvel Comics set, the super group included such faves as Captain America, Hawkeye and Iron Man in spectacular battles that only the world’s greatest superheroes could win. One of the Avengers’ many-many members was the mighty Thor, the Norse God of Thunder. Although he had a cool weapon (an oversized hammer he called Mjolnir), his stoic nature and stilted, archaic dialogue (filled with “thee’s” and “thou’s” and such) never endeared him to me much.
So now that it has come time in Marvel Studios’ prolonged build-up to next year’s Avengers movie to introduce Thor to the movie-going masses, I was a bit skeptical that this chapter would be a sword-and-sorcery snooze fest. Thankfully, I was wrong, as Marvel has wisely followed the format of the two hit Iron Man movies and injected Thor (in theaters now) with plenty of humor and over-the-top fantasy sequences, enough at least to distract you from the fact that this is basically a feature length prologue to 2012’s main event.
Following in the footsteps of his fellow Aussie Hugh Jackman, relative newcomer Chris Hemsworth (best known stateside as Kirk’s father in the most recent Star Trek movie) gives a robust, star-making performance as the title character. A hotheaded warmonger at first, Thor is exiled by his father, King Odin (a rough and regal Anthony Hopkins) from the Olympian land of Asgard to our Earth, specifically the humble deserts of New Mexico. Stripped of his godly powers and powerful hammer, he is found by spunky astrophysicist Jane Foster (recent Academy Award winner Natalie Portman, not so much slumming it in a superhero flick as enjoying the ride) and her electrical storm chasing crew (includingPirates of the Caribbean’s Stellan Skarsgård). They take him for a crazy drifter, that is until a UFO (unidentified falling object) also lands nearby, attracting the attention of the mysterious shadow agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D. (you’ll remember them from the Iron Man films).
The object in question is Mjolnir, and Thor wants it back so he can return to Asgard, where his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), God of Mischief, is… well, causing a lot of mischief. This includes plotting the murder of their father so he can ascend the throne in Thor’s absence, not to mention plunge Asgard into an all-out war with their longtime nemesis, the Frost Giants. Needless to say, it’s hammer time for Thor, but he must first prove his heroic worth in order to regain his mighty weapon.
With its many allusions to Shakespearean themes and characters from Henry V to King Lear, Kenneth Branagh would, on paper at least, seem the ideal choice to direct Thor. Nevertheless, at the end of the day this is a superhero movie, and all superhero movies need good action sequences, a feat that Branagh cannot quite accomplish, what with their murky cinematography, sloppy editing and shoddy pacing. Branagh, along with scriptwriters Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne, also fail when it comes to the character of Loki, who lacks the strong definition a true super villain needs.
Still, thanks to its golden boy of a leading man and a host of eye-popping special effects, Thor is a fun, early summer stop along the way to next May’s premiere of The Avengers. That super epic will also feature Iron Man, the Hulk and the star of Marvel’s next chapter, Captain America: The First Avenger, in theaters this July.
Toon Talk Rating: B Coming Soon:
Toon Talk Rating: B
- Captain Jack is back… again… in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Disney, May 20).
- Lightning McQueen returns (with Mater in tow) for Pixar’s Cars 2 (Disney, June 24).