out of Five
Running time: 114
Hugely entertaining comic-book adventure that delivers pretty much everything you could want from a Thor movie, thanks to a superb script, note-perfect direction from Kenneth Branagh, a terrific supporting cast and a charismatic, star-making central performance from Chris Hemsworth.
What's it all about?
Directed by Kenneth Branagh, Thor is based on the Marvel Comics superhero and stars Chris Hemsworth as Norse god Thor, who's about to be crowned king of the realm of Asgard by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). However, Thor's jealous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) manipulates him into starting a war with a race of Frost Giants, which results in Odin stripping Thor of his powers and banishing him to Earth.
Crash-landing in the New Mexico desert, Thor befriends scientists Jane (Natalie Portman) and Erik (Stellan Skarsgard), as well as their wise-cracking assistant Darcy (a scene-stealing Kat Dennings), while the separate arrival of Thor's unliftable hammer Mjolnir attracts the attention of SHIELD agent Coulson (Clark Gregg, providing crossover with Iron Man). As Thor tries to retrieve his hammer and adjust to life on Earth, Loki schemes to become king of Asgard and dispatches the Destroyer (a giant robot) to battle a still powerless Thor in New Mexico.
Hemsworth delivers a charismatic, star-making performance as Thor, combining suitably impressive physicality (he even manages to rock the costume) with an engaging and likeable personality; he also has great comic timing and generates strong chemistry with Portman. The supporting cast are equally good, especially Hopkins (who's so good that you wonder if Branagh upped his game by threatening to replace him with Brian Blessed) and Hiddleston, who makes Loki a complex, intriguing and almost tragic character rather than the capering, cackling pantomime villain he could have been.
Branagh's direction is note-perfect throughout – he gets the tone exactly right, injecting a large amount of humour but also ensuring that the film balances action, fantasy, romance and intense family conflict drama without ever letting one element overwhelm the others. Similarly, the script is superb, ensuring that each character gets a chance to shine and dropping in subtle nods to fans along the way.
In addition, the fight scenes are nicely handled and the visual effects are impressive, especially in the Halls of Asgard. That said, while the post-production 3D has come out well (as opposed to Clash of the Titans), it doesn't really add anything significant to the film in terms of flying hammers and the like.
In short, Thor is a huge amount of fun and is easily the best superhero movie since Iron Man. Highly recommended.