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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Thor 3D

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4_Chicks_Small Judy Thorburn


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Thor leads the charge as the first of several highly anticipated comic book adaptations to hit the big screens for the summer of 2011. Introduced as one of the superheroes that eventually unite as part of the upcoming, The Avengers franchise, Thor, based on Stan Lee's Marvel comic's character, delivers the goods thanks in most part due to its star, tall (6'4”), hunky and handsome Australian bred Chris Hemsworth, a well known TV actor in his homeland, where he has starred in soap operas and as a contestant on the Aussie version of Dancing With The Stars.

Thor isn't the first time American audiences got a glance of Hemsworth. He had a small part in the recent reboot of Star Trek as Captain James Kirk's father. But landing the starring role of the Norse God of Thunder, Thor, is the ticket that should catapult the actor to international stardom. Along with his obvious physical attributes which translates into heartthrob, Hemsworth ignites the screen with his charismatic, likable presence as well as acting ability.

Thor also stars Academy Award winners Sir Anthony Hopkins as Thor's father King Odin, and Natalie Portman as astro physicist and love interest Jane Foster.

In the opening, we are given a back story voiced by King Odin (Hopkin) ruler of the mythical kingdom of Asgard. He tells of an ancient war between the demon like Frost Giants led by Laufey (Colm Feore) and the Nordic gods that have protected mankind from the Frost Giants' threat of destruction. The King, having lost an eye but won the last battle with his sworn enemies, has since sought to keep the peace which he expects his successor, first born son Thor, to uphold. But, just as Thor is ready to take the thrown, the palace is infiltrated by the malevolent Frost Giants. Headstrong and angry, Thor defies his father's wishes and along with younger brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), loyal friends Sif (Jaimie Alexander), and the Warriors Three; Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (Joshua Dallas) and Hogun (Japanese star Tadanobu Asano), retaliates by invading the Frost Giant's world of Jotunheim until Thor's father intervenes. Outraged by his son's arrogance, Odin, in turn, banishes Thor from Asgard, only moments later to cast out Thor's mighty hammer, Mjolnir, the source of his powers.

Meanwhile, driving through the desert of New Mexico on their way to investigate meteorological phenomena are astro physicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her mentor, Norwegian scientist Dr Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and intern/assistant Darcy (Kat Denning), when suddenly Thor crash lands against their truck. Following him, but landing fifty miles away with such force as to leave a crater, is the mighty hammer that embeds into a rock, in which, like King Arthur's Excalibur sword, only one who is worthy can pull it free. Enter government agent Coulson (Clark Gregg, Jennifer Grey's hubby) and his team from SHIELD, eager to delve into what they deem a security threat that leads to interference with Thor's attempt to retrieve his hammer.

The story proceeds to unfold back and forth from the otherworldly realms of Asgard and Jutenheim (that are beautifully realized thanks to the CGI wizards) to Earth. On Earth Thor, stripped of his powers and made mortal, appears to be a fish out of water. His attempts to adjust to earthly ways and manners as humans try to figure him out lend some humor to the film and indeed work to generate some laughs. Of course, Thor gets help for his mission from Jane, and her two colleagues.

Along the way, Jane can't help but fall for the handsome stranger from a strange otherworld, there are some cool battle sequences, a deep family secret revealed, and an evil alliance formed to stop Thor from returning to Asgard that come into play. Will Thor reclaim his hammer, redeem himself and regain the love, respect, and acceptance of his father? Will Jane and Thor form a love connection?
You know the drill.

Director Kenneth Branaugh working from a script by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne, injects several Shakespearean elements such as father/son conflict, sibling rivalry, jealously, betrayal and honor, which comes as no surprise since Branaugh, as an actor, is well recognized for his many Shakespearean roles on stage and in film. So, it is understandable if shades of Macbeth and Hamlet pop up.

Stan Lee, as in all his comic book adaptations, has a brief cameo. Idris Elba appears as the formidable Asgard gatekeeper, Heimdall. Jeremy Renner has a smaller, uncredited role as a government sharpshooter, and Rene Russo, returns to the screen after a six year absence to portray Thor's mother. Although she has appeared on several talk shows to promote the film, Russo is barely visible on screen and wasted as an undeveloped character in which she has no more than a few unmemorable lines of dialogue.

You don't have to be a fan of the Marvel comics character or know much about Norse mythology to like the big screen adaptation of Thor. I sat through the version of the film that was made in 3D via post production and unfortunately, it doesn't have the same impact or wow factor that would result if it was filmed using that technology from the start. Aside from that, although Thor won't make my list of the best superhero movies ever made, it does work as an enjoyable piece of escapist entertainment offering up sexy eye candy for females and enough testosterone filled action for guys. For its star, Chris Hemsworth, this vehicle marks the start of a Marvel-ous career in films.

One more thing. Stay after the credits and you will see a teaser preview from the upcoming Avengers series featuring Samuel L. Jackson.

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