Now in Theaters: Thor, Asgard's warriors and family troubles, and Earth's search for knowledge
The recently globally-released Thor is fun while still being smarter than most action films gracing the big screen. It actually strives for coherence and a more profound conception of itself and its viewer. The previews did not look good to me – they seemed to promise yet another bland super hero film. But when I found out the director was Kenneth Branagh, I decided I had to see what the Shakespearean graduate had come up with.
I'm glad I changed my mind because it was an above-average movie that would be perhaps one of the better chances at a decent purely-for-entertainment (and not to be remembered or thought of again) action flick. It managed to remind of that original comic book wonder at the extensive possibilities of other-worldly strengths, be they mental or physical. It's not just the comic book geek, however, that marvels at the powers our imaginations can conjure – it's society as a whole, expressed through its various cultural products (religion, folklore, myth, literature, and, yes, film). Instead of further turning ourselves inward and distancing "others" from us, the film attempted something different: to open up what we could conceive as part of "us" and our civilization. There is also, for once, something that is not the least bit challenged by human force, but rather by something way beyond what those guys in suits or labs can come up with. I wasn't sure, however, what exactly tthe antagonist force was, and it meant little to me as a watched things explode and warriors clash.
Branagh succeeded, on some level, in taking the much-enfeebled genre out of its slump and rejuvenating it with universal ideas and more worked-through narrative. It was more "serious" than I expected, but Chris Hemsworth, actually did an okay job of getting laughs out of Thor's cultural and linguistic clash with Earth, as represented by New Mexico.
My rating is 5/10 because it superseded my expectation. But, do not misunderstand, this is still a very limited genre, and this particular film did not milk it in all its respects. The "3D" effect was not very well capitalized (as it was with Tron, for example). And there was little suspense. No standout secondary character. In short, not very memorable. Probably will never see it again. Yet, it was a good time to see it at least once.
The film also stars Natalie Portman as Thor's earthling crush; Tom Hiddleston as Thor's rivaling brother; and Anthony Hopkins as Thor's father and lord of his world.