{2jtab: Movie Review}

Thor - Movie Review


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4 stars

There are so many ways in which a modern movie about a hammer-wielding god from Old Norse mythology could fail.  Oh, so many ways.  Thankfully, under the kinetically skilled direction of Shakespearean wonder-kid Kenneth Branagh, Thor is a blissfully operatic experience that rivals the thrill of Iron Man before it.  Yet, the film never leaves the realm of the epically fantastical – even when it comes to Earth – and that is a plus.  In fact, if I had to choose which one I responded better to it would be the charisma of Thor.  More of a wondrous comic book than a skilled depiction of reality, Thor is able to balance an entertaining yarn with the already cinematically established Marvel universe with fantastic results.

The ever-expansive realm of Thor exists in a mystical area of space called Asgard in which the Norse gods dwell and protect their universe from all manners of attack and beings.  With family drama (the best kind according to Aristotle) at its center, two brothers – Thor (Chris Hemsworth, in a deafening star-making role if ever there was one) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston, a baddie we will see again) – are in an unannounced dual to be the heir to their father’s throne, Odin (Anthony Hopkins, who finally delivers a performance that is not simply phoned-in).  Out thwarted and outsmarted by the Frost Giants, Thor and his friends in Asgard defy his father’s wishes and enact an ass-kicking of brazen fury against them.  When Thor is found out, his punishment comes swift and hard: he is banished and stripped of his powers; sent to earth as a mere mortal.

On Earth, specifically the desert of New Mexico, Thor is discovered by master physicist Jane (Natalie Portman), her mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and their wisecracking assistant (Kat Dennings, who’s comedic timing keeps things interesting).  Soon enough, S.H.I.E.L.D., led by agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) arrives and secures the area around where Odin has slammed Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, as it waits for Thor to learn the humility he so lacks in character.  Trouble brews above the skies in Asgard, though.  Loki has taken over his father’s kingdom while Odin recovers from a stroke and a team of Asgardians - Sif (Jamie Alexander) and the Warriors Three - assembles to bring Thor back for an epic battle, on Earth and Asgard, against his brother.

Equal parts Flash Gordon and Excalibur, Thor - written by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, and Don Payne - delivers a sweeping adventure that combines epic and fully-realized fantasy moments with some funny situations as Thor’s fish-out-of-water routine goes on display down on Earth.  It might be a bit unfocused as it is a “bridge” film, but Branagh has done the characters of Thor and his actors a great service in that everything is well-rounded and played straight – which makes the intended humor, when it happens, so uproarious and enjoyable.  The three fantastic battles that frame the story – one involving The Destoyer – are well-conceived and certainly favor Thor’s abilities to be, well, so completely badass and exciting.

Fancier that expected, the scenes in Asgard are absolutely stunning and mighty and every single bit fit for the universe as originally imagined by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  The Bifröst Bridge is a holy set piece to gaze upon and its golden-eyed gatekeeper (Idris Elba) is also an important and impressive inclusion.  Although, once again, the studios are scamming audiences with the inclusion of 3-D as nothing in this film warrants a 3D viewing.  Still, Thor packs a lot of cinematic muscle for the buck.

While the red cape and flying abilities my make some long for DC’s Superman, Hemsworth performance as the proud titan is certainly rock solid and gives even more promise and faith that The Avengers movie will actually work when all its pieces are put together.  Who needs Superman when you have a spinning hammer to circumnavigate the winds with?  And speaking of The Avengers, adding Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) in a few choice scenes of Thor is certainly a nice and welcome touch.

With Captain America on the peripherals and the success of Thor (already grossing $100 million in Australia alone), things in the Marvel universe are coming along nicely…

{2jtab: Film Details}

Thor - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence..
: Kenneth Brannagh
: Ashley Miller (screenplay), Zack Stentz
Cast: Chris Hemsworth; Natalie Portman; Tom Hiddleston; Anthony Hopkins; Stellan Skarsgård; Kat Dennings; Clark Gregg
Genre: Action | Adventure | Drama | Fantasy
Memorable Movie Quote: "For the first time in my life, I have no idea what I'm supposed to do... "
Two worlds. One hero.
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date: May 5, 2011
Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available

Plot Synopsis: The powerful but arrogant warrior Thor is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard and sent to live amongst humans on Earth, where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.

{2jtab: Blu-ray/DVD Review}

Thor - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

5 Stars

Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - September 13, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); Digital copy (on disc); DVD copy

While it isn’t the most perfect of transfers that we’ve ever seen, Thor’s 1080p Blu-ray transfer covers a lot of magical realms before settling onto earth’s terrain.  The warmer locale serves up the best offerings with unmatched warmth; it’s when things get cold and dark that fine detail is lost and dissolve into flat shadows.  Still, when all the lights are on, Thor’s transfer kicks major ass during its running time.  Flesh tones are light and clothing details are crisp.  The sound – rendered here in a perfectly balanced DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless soundtrack – more than makes up for any picture crushing and banding tarrying about.  This sucker is loaded with punch and pop.



  • It’s amazing. It really is. Director Kenneth Branagh delivers a rich commentary to rival all other director-helmed commentaries that shows his love for the universe; proof enough that he understands the character Thor and, yet, he isn’t returning to direct the next film in Thor’s story.  Enjoy this, though.  It’s one of the better commentaries we’ve ever heard.

Special Features:

Alongside a DVD copy of the film, a digital download, and some trailers for some upcoming Marvel properties, the supplementals are filled with featurettes that attempt to tie the Marvel properties together (a hinting of The Avengers) and explain the making of Thor.  There are in-depth looks at the casting process, how to handle the Mjolnir hammer, and the film’s rich production design.  And, with 30 minutes of deleted scenes, one can see that had Branagh’s full vision of Thor been realized, we might have seen more Shakespearean nods.  Overall, a strong release from Paramount, that will proudly stand alongside your Iron Man and Hulk Blu-rays.

  • From Asgard to Earth (20 min)
  • Our Fearless Leader (3 min)
  • Assembling the Troupe (5 min)
  • Hammer Time (6 min)
  • Creating Laufey (6 min)
  • Music of the Gods (2 min)
  • A Conversation (2 min)
  • Road to the Avengers (3 min)
  • Deleted Scenes (30 min)
  • Trailers

{2jtab: Trailer}