Saturday 30 April 2011

Thor (2011) - Kenneth Branagh

Though many will be familiar with the basics of Norse mythology, Thor is probably one of the least well known of Marvel's comic book heroes (except to die-hard fans of course).  Like many, I therefore had few expectations before the film began, besides watching trailers filled with special effects and cheesy dialogue.

And these two elements are particularly noteworthy.  Visually, the realm of Asgard is stunningly designed with sprawling fantastical vistas filling each frame with eye-popping detail; the lightning-paced action well choreographed.  There is, however, an over-reliance on CGI which lessens the tangibility of the fantasy world.  This is accentuated by the fairly unnecessary 3D, which emphasises the separate planes of the image and, thereby, the heavy use of blue screen.

As for the cheesy dialogue, it's actually welcome here.  The first act of the film narrates the rise and fall of Thor in Asgard, relaying the necessary backstory before switching back to Earth.  At this point, the tongue-in-cheek dialogue seeps in ("I need sustenance!") and from here on in the film never takes itself too seriously.  It works in a similar vein to other blockbusters such as Iron Man and Pirates of the Caribbean, ensuring that Thor never gets bogged down in its own mythology.  Hemsworth does a fine job portraying the titular protagonist, though his beard and sparkling eyes do most of the work for him; Portman, as ever, is a very welcome addition.  The soundtrack is suitably epic, though pretty unoriginal.

Sure, the plot is rather silly, the characterisation two-dimensional and the cliff-hanger ending draws a bifrost path to the inevitable sequel.  But it's a fun and enjoyable hammer-wielding blockbuster that will thoroughly entertain.

And Avengers fans, make sure you stay until after the credits for a hint of what's to come next...